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 worked together to host a series of five community forums utilizing participatory design methods to craft and create program solutions that address Black entrepreneurs’ current challenges while identifying opportunities for sustainable growth. Through the community forums, which were attended by over 200 people, Hester Street gathered new information, research and insights to iterate solutions alongside entrepreneurs, ensuring that proposed programs are crafted by and for Black business owners. Building on these findings, Hester Street analyzed the community feedback to better inform SBS and its partners on strategies that will foster 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.

The resulting BE NYC report, “Advancing Black Entrepreneurship in NYC“, was released in August 2020 – read it here.