Today, DPN has released three new policy kits, authored by Nourel-Hoda Eidy, on Democratizing Entrepreneurship — state policies to help make it easier for more Americans to launch startups, coops, and other ventures:
As we have written about before, American entrepreneurship is currently dominated by a narrow slice of the American population—disproportionately men born into family wealth and embedded in wealthy social networks centered in coastal cities. As one commenter wrote in a Hacker News in 2017:
Entrepreneurship is like one of those carnival games where you throw darts or something. Middle class kids can afford one throw. Most miss. A few hit the target and get a small prize. A very few hit the center bullseye and get a bigger prize. Rags to riches! The American Dream lives on. Rich kids can afford many throws. If they want to, they can try over and over and over again until they hit something and feel good about themselves. Some keep going until they hit the center bullseye, then they give speeches or write blog posts about ‘meritocracy’ and the salutary effects of hard work. Poor kids aren’t visiting the carnival. They’re the ones working it.
Democracy is not just about participation in state power — it is also about participation in economic power. And a key pillar of economic democracy (alongside other important pillars, such as labor power, social entitlements, public goods, and public enterprise) is ensuring that it is not only the wealthy and well-connected who can realize their ideas as ventures in the economy. Fortunately, there exist public programs, policies, and institutions that states can implement to democratize startup capital, know-how, and technology — and, in doing so, help democratize entrepreneurship.
And when we, in partnership with Data for Progress, polled Americans on the topic, we found that across the country, across demographic groups, and across the partisan divide: Taking affirmative steps to democratize entrepreneurship — from public banks to public startup incubators to public venture funds — is very popular.
DPN organizer Nourel-Hoda Eidy has split her democratizing entrepreneurship research into three state policy kits:
- Access to Startup Capital: How states can democratize startup capital through state facilitation of various local investment funds, platforms, and programs
- Entrepreneurship Infrastructure: How states can broaden access to startup know-how through public incubators, entrepreneurial campuses, startup competitions, and entrepreneurial leave programs
- Startup Technology Diffusion: How states can democratize startup technology through Public Technology Centers, Innovation Voucher systems, and digital education support
For an overview of these proposals, we put together a short video:
Americans do not want to base their state economy’s future on the whims of out-of-state megacorporations — they want to support the development of their own local economy, and they see the state taking a larger role in democratizing production and cultivating local entrepreneurial ecosystems as part of that project. We hope these new kits can help in this effort.
If you are a legislator, activist, expert, or journalist looking to help promote these policies in your state, check out (and share) our kit — and please get in touch!