Policy Brief: Digital Entrepreneurship in Communities of Color

As COVID-19 disrupted the economy and all aspects of daily life, businesses scrambled to maintain operations by using their online presence to facilitate transactions through curbside pickup and contactless payments. They advertised on websites and used social media to communicate changed hours, health protocols, and reopening plans. Trends toward digital transformation of the economy were rapidly accelerated and are likely to mark a turning point in technology use for entrepreneurship going forward. This acceleration brings with it a renewed emphasis on the following question: What is needed to support equitable technology use in communities and to help entrepreneurs of color thrive in this digital environment?

This policy brief is based on presentations from expert scholars and practitioners who participated in the “Digital Entrepreneurship in Communities of Color” workshop sponsored by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and organized by the Center on Technology, Data and Society at Arizona State University during April 2021. This brief explains challenges that entrepreneurs of color face in harnessing the potential of technology as well as the promise that such technologies may offer. Technology may present opportunities to grow and thrive, through access to new markets, including those beyond local boundaries.

The workshop’s participants offered a toolkit of policies and practices for consideration by local leaders. Local governments play a critical role in the ecosystem needed to support technology use by businesses of color. Needs will differ across racial and ethnic groups, as well as for the context of the community, including whether it is urban, rural, growing, or struggling. We present a summary of the speakers’ recommendations below.




Download executive summary here.

Download full report here.

Watch workshop presentations here.