Black-Owned Business Support Ecosystem
Prosper is a coalition of community, civic and business leaders committed to creating a more vibrant, racially and gender inclusive economy in Birmingham, Alabama.
Prosper tasked Fourth Economy with examining the ecosystem supporting Black-owned businesses, including its participants, strengths, weaknesses, and the areas of opportunity for impact.
The project team engaged in analysis of Birmingham’s economy, industries, and small business trends. Fourth Economy built relationships through interviews with business owners, key stakeholders, and community members to uncover qualitative trends and insights as well as hosted a series of large facilitated discussions to engage the community in the co-creation strategies to advance economic equity in Birmingham. These qualitative insights were paired with quantitative analyses to understand the broader economy in Birmingham, along with the specific trends being displayed within the small business community. These combined insights were leveraged for the final report, which inventories the organizations and assets that comprise the ecosystem supporting Black-owned businesses, as well as the larger economic opportunities, challenges, and strategic recommendations that have the potential to positively impact Birmingham and its Black residents. The final report is expected to launch in January 2023.
While the final report has not launched yet, the tools that were developed within the report will provide multifaceted support to Birmingham's small business community. An ecosystem database was developed that inventories all of the assets and organizations that make up the ecosystem supporting Black-owned businesses. This tool will be leveraged to support business owners in better navigating and utilizing the ecosystem, while simultaneously helping organizations to identify areas of synergy and opportunity for collaboration or program creation. The report itself includes the findings of our economic analysis, including data assessments and qualitative insights from interviews and community meetings, which are leveraged to present strategic recommendations that Birmingham, as a community, should pursue. These recommendations are presented for consideration by ecosystem organizations, local government, and philanthropy for future investment.