CELEBRATE | October 30, 2020

Forward Cities Invites Entrepreneurs to Chart a Path Forward

Forward Cities
Photo Credit: Forward Cities

GEW USA national partner Forward Cities is offering its proprietary E3 Scorecard for free during this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Week. We are inviting allies of entrepreneurs across the country to apply it in their communities to identify how strategic investments in their ecosystems can advance the goal of bringing equity to every entrepreneur (E3). The E3 Scorecard is a do-it-yourself tool for you to take stock of your ecosystem’s strengths and areas for growth that can be completed individually in under 15 minutes, but preferably is filled out by a cross section of the ecosystem yielding a much richer scorecard report. The Signature Activity overview (link here) details the easy steps to get a scorecard custom to your ecosystem. 

As a national nonprofit organization Forward Cities is committed to ensuring that all individuals, regardless of background, can reach their full entrepreneurial potential and that the communities in which they live thrive. Working over the past two years in ecosystems as diverse as New Kensington, a micropolitan community outside of Pittsburgh, the City of Baltimore as well as the five county region around Santa Fe and Albuquerque, we listened and learned, oftentimes un-learning a lot, about what current and future entrepreneurs really need. 

We believe that the knowledge we distilled and co-created with ecosystems across the country holds a key to accelerating the economic recovery in the months and years ahead. What emerged can chart the way for ecosystems across the country: 

  1. Building communities for and with the talent, ingenuity and persistence of entrepreneurs that we have historically not given a fair shot means centering equity through entrepreneur-first support structures, power-sharing and resource commitments. It takes a community-wide effort to ensure that the fate of a business only hinges on its own merits, not on who started it. 

  1. People, Programs, Networks and Narratives are the tent poles of ecosystems that provide enabling conditions for all entrepreneurs to thrive. That’s why we structured the Scorecard along these categories, further fanning out into 8 subcategories, including ‘Onramps and Pathways’, and 40 individual markers of a healthy and equitable ecosystem (e.g. Does your ecosystem have free or low-cost startup and/or entrepreneurial mindset workshops (online and offline)?). 

  1. Most efforts so far to try to conceptualize something as inherently complex and adaptive as entrepreneurial ecosystems have emphasized visible support infrastructure like the existence of a co-working space or accelerator program. This has unfortunately come at the detriment of valuing the invisible tissue that holds together and animates ecosystems: the trusting relationships, the feeling of being heard, the humility to acknowledge past mistakes and the character to learn from them. The scorecard takes a stance and incorporates as many as possible of these vital components too, recognizing that this specific way of measuring is one of many possible ways.  

At Forward Cities we are excited by the prospect of seeing communities across the country adopt the E3 Scorecard during GEW 2020. Together, we can bring about equity for every entrepreneur - one ecosystem at a time. 

Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions or suggestions.  

Nicolas Gunkel is the Vice President, Ecosystem Impacts at Forward Cities, where he develops the research and policy agenda of the organization… About the author