This week President Obama hosted the first ever White House Demo Day. The long awaited event, which convened on the President’s birthday, was centered on the promotion and celebration of inclusive entrepreneurship. This focus is vital when you consider that women lead only 3% of venture capital backed startups – a startling statistic. Even more pathetic is that the percentage drops 2 points when you are looking at African Americans and Hispanics – 1% representation within venture capital backed startups.
During White House Demo Day, Maria Contreras-Sweet, the Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, announced the winners of their 2015 Growth Accelerator Fund. We are proud to announce that Mission: Launch is one of the 80 recipients of a $50,000 cash prize. This enables us to introduce our business incubator, Mission: LaunchPad, for returning citizens and their family members. This is our angle on inclusive entrepreneurship.
“Inclusive entrepreneurship is all about expanding the ideal of who entrepreneurs are and when their journey begins,” said Laurin N. Hodge, Executive Director & Co-Founder Mission: Launch.“ We are excited to be among the first small business accelerators committed to including the 1-in-4 Americans with an arrest or conviction record. Due to workforce discrimination, often associated with a mistake from their past, entrepreneurship is the most viable pathway to self-sufficiency for many of our cohort members. Without interventions, we are losing the restored human capital of millions of citizens and creating a ripple of negative economic outcomes.”
The Mission: LaunchPad business accelerator concept was developed by our co-founder and Director of Strategy & Innovation, Teresa Hodge, who is also a returning citizen. She brings first-hand experience to the accelerator. “When lying on my bunk in prison, I dreamt of being able to launch a business; my goal was to empower not only me but so many formerly incarcerated women. Today, is a dream come true for this organization and me.”
Our inaugural LaunchPad cohort will be hosted within Impact Hub DC, a Washington, D.C. co-working and events space for social impact professionals taking action to drive positive change. Impact Hub DC is owned and operated by MissionHUB, a network of Impact Hub campuses, in San Francisco, Berkeley, New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., and the Social Capital Markets Conference (SOCAP) for impact investing.
Impact Hub DC has been a believer and supporter of our work and the possibility of scaling our model within the Impact Hub locations nationally is being discussed. It is the goal of Mission: Launch, Inc. and Impact Hub DC to jointly secure scholarships and funding for this community that has often been locked-out of participating in the hope and promise of entrepreneurship.
Please read more about our exciting news, as it was covered by Technical.ly DC (link to article here).