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Entrepreneurship: Resources for Underserved Entrepreneurs

Why this List?

As a library we strive to provide access to as many resources as possible to suit the needs of our community. We know that BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and marginalized genders often struggle to find resources in the business world. I curated this list with the needs of these communities in mind, in order to assist those looking for such resources, Of course, if you need further assistance finding sources for funding, mentoring, or other entrepreneurial educational programs, please do not hesitate to contact me for assistance. 

Other Sources

Chicago Area Incubators

2112
An incubator space for entrepreneurs in creative fields, including music, film/video, and other content creation. Huge roster of mentors in the Chicago area, including Northwestern alumni.
 

BLUE1647
A tech based, community-focused incubator and education center. Heavy emphasis on coding skills and tech based-startups in under-served communities.
 

1817
A huge, incredibly successful incubator with multiple programs that have spun off from the original space. Long-term and short-term programs focusing on improving business practices, providing further funding, and otherwise advancing small start-ups across Chicago.

Funding Opportunities

SBA 8(a) Business Development Program
Grant program available for US citizens from economically and socially marginalized groups. Must certify with the program before becoming eligible
 

Chicago Community Trust
Grant opportunities from businesses or nonprofits aiming to address the racial wealth gap in the Chicago Area. All funding requests are considered based on fit to the current strategic plan.
 

Backstage Funding
VC firm started by Arlan Hamilton, focused on investing in minority-lead business across the country. Additional focus on connecting partners with mentors from similar backgrounds, primarily provide seed and round A funding.
 

Digital Undivided
Educational programming and micro-funding for Black and Latinx women entrepreneurs. Programming includes mentoring opportunities as well as networking events. 

Mentoring Programs

Start Out Chicago
A national organization with chapters across the US, including in Chicago. The organization provides continuing education, mentoring opportunities, and funding for qualifying start ups. 
 

LGBT Chamber of Commerce of Illinois
A great resource for Illinois based LGBT entrepreneurs, aims to promote and facilitate the overall success of the LGBT community and its allies. Hosts events, learning and networking opportunities.
 

Sunshine Enterprises
A local incubator program and mentoring organization that is focused on fostering neighbor entrepreneurs and business in under-served neighborhoods across the Chicagoland area.
 

Humble VC
National network of venture capitalists, looking to support and innovate the approach to serving minority lead start-ups and entrepreneurs. Focusing on start-ups seeking to improve

Government Resources

MBDA Business Centers
A national organization of experts and mentors for minority-owned firms seeking to penetrate new markets — domestic & global — and growing in size and scale. Assistance includes mentoring, funding, and networking.
 

SBA 8(a) Business Development Program
Grant program available for US citizens from economically and socially marginalized groups. Must certify with the program before becoming eligible.
 

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) & Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR)
An awards-based program, SBIR and STTR enable small businesses to explore their technological potential. Designed to support and encourage scientific research and commercialization of innovative research.
 

SBA Illinois District Office
Located in downtown Chicago, the SBA provides resources including funding opportunities, networking events, and educational programming for small businesses and start-ups across Illinois. 

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