Greater Good Blog

Building An Economy for All

Alexandra LaForge, Cyrus Kharas, and India Gupta
Building An Economy for All

In February 2019, we published our report, An Economy for All: How Philanthropy Can Unlock Capital for Women Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurs of Color through Inclusive Investing. The report presented a case for how philanthropy can better use its power to level the playing field of economic opportunity by increasing access to investment capital for people of color and women entrepreneurs—all while advancing broader goals of racial and gender equity. With input from experienced investors and racial equity experts, An Economy for All laid out recommendations for how the philanthropic sector could use investing, grant making, and coalition building to influence mainstream capital markets and facilitate the flow of capital to diverse entrepreneurs.

Published in partnership with the JPMorgan Chase Foundation and the New Venture Fund, the 2019 report explored the tension between the proven potential of businesses owned by women or people of color—that is, their potential to generate financial growth, create jobs, and foster economic activity—and the systemic barriers that keep these entrepreneurs from accessing the capital they need to succeed.

Disturbingly, the latest data clearly show that businesses led by women or people of color have been particularly vulnerable to COVID-19–related economic challenges and are still unable to access more than a meager level of investment compared to their male- and white-led business peers. In fact, while 2020 was a booming year for venture capital and saw investment gains for some entrepreneurs of color, the overall allocation of capital to Black entrepreneurs has hovered around just 1 percent since 2013. Further, female founders raised just 2 percent of all venture capital last year, which was down $1 billion from 2019. Addressing the racial and gender inequities that persist in capital markets is more critical than ever, as is increasing the flow of resources to businesses led by women or people of color as a crucial means to developing a more inclusive economy.

Philanthropy can do more to help break down those barriers and ensure capital flows to its intended recipients. In consultation with the field experts who informed the original report and practitioners working across the capital spectrum, we have revisited An Economy for All’s recommendations and now lift up ways that philanthropy can act quickly to accelerate the progress on inclusive investing and ensure that the momentum in the field truly leads to a more equitable capital system for all. In sum, philanthropy should:

  • Lift up the leaders: invest in diverse fund managers and experienced equity-focused intermediaries to help them attract additional capital
  • Build the pipeline: provide different types of capital, including capacity-building grants and long-term investments, to equity-centered intermediaries so they can more effectively serve diverse businesses and communities
  • Bring others along: use philanthropy’s partnership power to work with public-sector stakeholders and other funders and investors to activate and coordinate capital


Organizations and individuals with capital have an opportunity to make the most of this rare moment when their resources match the field’s needs. Our update to the original An Economy for All report explores this opportunity in greater depth.

Read the update here.

Download the original report here.

Contact us to learn more here.


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