A Look Back at the White House Urban Entrepreneurship Summit: Building a Roadmap for Entrepreneurial Success

Posted by | August 11, 2011

On Monday, I had the opportunity to attend the White House Urban Entrepreneurship Summit held at the Temple Fox School of Business. After a poignant welcome address by Mayor Michael Nutter, local entrepreneurs joined with Greater Philadelphia’s city and business leaders to discuss urban entrepreneurship in a series of round tables and breakout sessions. The event brought together the community’s brightest minds to discuss best practices of entrepreneurship and ideas for spurring innovation and job creation.

My most lasting impression was the high level of energy that permeated throughout the event. Even after the networking reception and resource fair ended, people were still mingling and connecting with each other.

That energy is essential for creating and building businesses to stimulate the economy and foster job growth.

As a participant in the first roundtable discussion titled, “Unleashing Ideas: Stimulating Innovation, Barriers and Challenges to Urban Entrepreneurship,” I had the opportunity to share some of the exciting milestones NFTE Philadelphia has accomplished over the past few years in developing the next generation of business leaders. It was an honor to be asked to speak to attendees to advocate on the behalf of entrepreneurship at the high school level.

In light of the tremendous strides we’ve had to date, NFTE’s work is nowhere near complete. In fact, a recent report from the University of Michigan found that of young people whose parents ranked in the bottom income quintile, 42 percent ended up in the bottom quintile like their parents, and only 6 percent made it to the top quintile. This issue of hereditary poverty not only is a major argument for enhanced job creation, but it also focuses on the three things that are essential for these young people to advance to a higher quintile: economic, social and cultural capital. That’s what NFTE aims to do—engage students through entrepreneurship education in the classroom and provide them with the economic and social capital to create a business and build a network of supportive adult entrepreneurs.

In a great example of NFTE’s work in action, there was a competition at the Forum in which entrepreneurs had the opportunity to pitch their business plans to attendees. The Philadelphia Chapter of NFTE’s first place business plan competition winner, Bianca Nieves, took the stage and presented her plan for Benita’s Sofritos in front of more than 200 people. Following her presentation, Bianca received advice and feedback from business leaders and fellow entrepreneurs, and even met one or two new mentors to advise her on business aspirations. These new networks and connections are important not just for Bianca, but for all entrepreneurs, to augment their social capital and generate income and job creation through the development of their businesses.

We congratulate Bianca for her courage and willingness to present her business plan, and on a job well done! And a special thanks to the team coordinating the Philadelphia portion of the White House Urban Entrepreneurship Summit. It was a great event and provided Philadelphia’s entrepreneurs with a great roadmap for future success.

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