Black Entrepreneurs NYC (BE NYC) is an initiative by NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) to support Black entrepreneurs in starting and growing thriving businesses across the five boroughs in an effort to address the racial wealth gap. While Black individuals account for over 20% of New Yorkers, only 2% own NYC businesses and hire only 1.9% of employees. With this first-of-it-kind initiative, SBS is co-developing BE NYC’s programs with advocates, business leaders and entrepreneurs across various business sectors to ensure policies and practices are tailored to the unique needs and desires of Black entrepreneurs.

In 2019, Hester Street and SBS are working together to host a series of community forums using participatory design methods with the goal of creating program solutions that address these entrepreneurs’ current challenges while identifying opportunities for sustainable growth. Through the community forums, Hester Street will gather new information, research and insights to iterate solutions with entrepreneurs, ensuring that proposed programs are crafted by and for Black business owners. Building on these findings, Hester Street will develop a report to inform SBS and its partners as they work towards fostering stronger business networks, support systems and business conditions for NYC’s Black entrepreneurs. Specific aims include providing tailored support to entrepreneurs with storefronts in existing business sectors of sales and personal services, and to grow participation in arenas such as healthcare, technology and environmental sciences.