Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

Kauffman ESHIP Summit


Research shows that new companies drive nearly all net new job creation, fostering innovation and economic vitality in communities. Yet today’s entrepreneurial support strategies often do not provide equal access to entrepreneurship for underrepresented groups--women, racial minorities, immigrants and people from rural communities, among others---leaving entire communities falling economically further behind.


In 2017, the Kauffman Foundation convened our first ESHIP Summit, a gathering of community and civic leaders working to build systems to support entrepreneurs in their communities. Diversity and inclusion were the top priority for the event. To achieve this, we reached beyond our normal networks to invite a diverse array of people, offering scholarship assistance for those who might not have been able to attend otherwise.


Our delegation reflected the diversity of America more than most entrepreneurship-focused events: 436 attendees represented 48 states and 10 countries, was 47% female and nearly 30% people of color. The largest theme that emerged from the event was the need for the group to develop a more inclusive model of economic development. The inclusion of ecosystem builders from these underrepresented groups will be principle #1 as we continue to emerge this new field.

Entrepreneurship in America isn’t nearly as diverse as it needs to be if we are going to flourish as an economy and society. Through our entrepreneurial communities work, including the ESHIP Summit, we are taking an intentional approach to leveling the playing field for all who want to realize their entrepreneurial dream.

Wendy Guillies, president & CEO, Kauffman Foundation

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