PHILADELPHIA (October 17, 2019) United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, in partnership with the City of Philadelphia and PIDC, today released a Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking a consultant to comprehensively analyze the current entrepreneurial landscape in Philadelphia. The analysis and assessment will have a specific focus on the ecosystem of resources available to diverse business owners—including people of color, immigrants, and women—who have traditionally been underrepresented in the business community. 

United Way is seeking a consultant to assess the existing landscape of resources currently supporting entrepreneurs in Philadelphia and to provide a set of recommendations on how to increase effectiveness, enhance collaborations, fill gaps, and address opportunities for further investment. The goal is to identify and provide support to high-potential, lower-resourced opportunities, with a focus on the resources available and accessible to diverse entrepreneurs and businesses at different stages of growth.

“This initiative is a major step forward in elevating opportunities for people of color, women, and immigrants who are underrepresented in the Philadelphia business community,” said Harold T. Epps, Commerce Director for the City of Philadelphia. “Philadelphia is a majority-minority city, but our minority business creation and growth trails peer cities. This assessment will help us identify solutions and new resources to break down barriers that inhibit the growth of businesses from historically disadvantaged backgrounds.”

This initiative—one of the priorities in the City’s inclusive growth plan, “Growing With Equity”—builds on existing investments by the City, United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, and PIDC in enhancing Philadelphia’s entrepreneurial landscape. The City and its partners are committed to creating and supporting an environment where diverse business owners in all areas of the city can open and grow a business successfully.

Successful proposals in response to the RFP must address three major phases, to be completed over the next year: 

  1. National Research and Review — Conduct peer city research and review models for collaborative, regional entrepreneurship strategies across the country; report on best practices, case studies and replicable models.
  2. Local Needs Assessment and Recommendations — Comprehensively review Philadelphia’s local entrepreneurial landscape, including support organizations, lenders, philanthropic funders and more to identify  opportunities available, with a focus on businesses owned by women, immigrants, and people of color. 
  3. Facilitated Program Design — Collaborate with stakeholders and apply research findings to build a continuum of supports for entrepreneurs that covers the entire lifecycle of business growth by incorporating evidence-based, equitable strategies to support diverse entrepreneurs.

“United Way believes in a community where every person in every zip code has access to transformative, life changing opportunities to unlock their potential and build more prosperous lives,” said Bill Golderer, President and CEO of United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. “The research from this RFP will inform a critical step to moving the needle on poverty: building an ecosystem that equips entrepreneurs with access to the resources they need to launch and grow thriving business that not only provide them with a sustainable income, but also have the potential to transform neighborhoods, create jobs and stimulate economic growth for others as well.”   

Current racial and gender disparities in rates of business formation and growth are due in part to structural barriers, and this proposal seeks to identify those barriers and find comprehensive solutions. Diverse entrepreneurs generally do not have the same type of access to the necessary requirements to launch and grow successfully, which include access to capital, business and financial management education, and market opportunity. By identifying structural barriers and gaps in resources, this initiative will help all Philadelphia businesses and entrepreneurs grow.

“From our years of experience supporting the growth of entrepreneurs, PIDC is familiar with the particular challenges faced by people of color, women, and immigrants trying to grow their businesses in Philadelphia,” said John Grady, President of PIDC. “We are excited for the results of this assessment and the development of a strategy to help build capacity, strengthen effectiveness, and ultimately to identify opportunities for resources to accelerate the growth of these businesses.”


About the Philadelphia Department of Commerce

The mission of the Department of Commerce is to ensure that Philadelphia is a globally competitive city to which employers flock, entrepreneurs thrive and innovation abounds; to recruit and retain a diverse set of businesses; to foster economic opportunities for all Philadelphians in all neighborhoods; and to partner with workforce development programs and local businesses on talent development ensuring that all Philadelphians can find and retain living-wage jobs. For more information about the Department of Commerce, visit

About United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey

United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, serving communities in Pennsylvania’s Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties, and New Jersey’s Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May and Cumberland counties, is part of a national network of more than 1,300 locally governed organizations that work to create lasting positive changes in communities and in people’s lives. United Way fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community. In Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, United Way fights for youth success and family stability because we LIVE UNITED against intergenerational poverty. For more information about United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey visit

About PIDC 

PIDC is Philadelphia’s public-private economic development corporation. A non-profit founded in 1958 by the City of Philadelphia and the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, PIDC’s mission is to spur investment, support business growth, and foster developments that create jobs, revitalize neighborhoods, and drive growth to every corner of Philadelphia. PIDC has invested more than $16.6 billion of financing and more than 3,200 acres of land saleswhich has leveraged over $29 billion in total investment and assisted in retaining and creating hundreds of thousands of jobs in Philadelphia. In the last five years, PIDC has borrowed more than $60 million of capital from private investors and raised more than $10 million in new equity investments that have helped fund more than $142 million in 480 business loans to growing companies located in 96% of the city’s zip codes and more than half of PIDC clients are minority- or woman-owned businesses. For more information about PIDC, visit and follow us @PIDCphila on Twitter.