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Kauffman Foundation and National Coalition of Entrepreneurship Advocates Urge Policymakers to Break Down Systemic Barriers to Opportunity and Entrepreneurship

Bipartisan Policy Roadmap Released by Kauffman Foundation Prioritizes Support For Entrepreneurs of Color, Women and Rural Entrepreneurs

As America confronts the dual pandemics of COVID-19 and growing economic inequality compounded by racial injustice, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation has released its new and expanded version of America’s New Business Plan. The plan — championed by Start Us Up, a national coalition comprised of more than 200 entrepreneurship advocacy groups and organizations from 39 states and territories —features updated recommendations to provide policymakers a roadmap for strengthening access to entrepreneurship for those who are underrepresented today. It focuses on addressing the systemic barriers that limit opportunity and prosperity in America, particularly for people of color, women and rural residents.

“Moments of crisis are also moments of opportunity,” said Philip Gaskin, Vice President of Entrepreneurship at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. “We have witnessed firsthand communities demonstrating resilience and mutual support during this time of need. But, our communities need help. Now is the time for America to ensure that the best and boldest ideas for supporting entrepreneurship are inclusively discussed, debated, and acted on to level the playing field for all entrepreneurs.  America has the opportunity to transform not just in response to the pandemic, but for the long-term by strengthening policies that address racial inequality, narrow the gap between rich and poor, and raise the economic status of historically marginalized communities.””

Launched in 2019, America’s New Business Plan sets out to level the playing field and create equitable access to entrepreneurial opportunities for everyday Americans striving to launch new businesses. Now, as a new federal administration and Congress continue to address the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kauffman Foundation has updated the plan with recommendations for policies that directly impact new and small businesses as well as much larger issues that limit access to entrepreneurship and prosperity.

The plan includes recommendations that make it easier for all people to start and grow a business, as well as recommendations to strengthen economic equality including:

  • Creating universal access to affordable broadband technology so all Americans can access the internet
  • Closing wealth gaps—particularly for Black and Latino families—through new ideas such as baby bonds
  • Investing in Black-owned banks and CDFIs that have a stronger track record of creating pathways to homeownership and entrepreneurship for people of color
  • Ensuring that all Americans are equipped with real-world experiences and stronger workforce training to excel in current and future careers, as employees or entrepreneurs

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the racial, gender and geographic inequities that have kept opportunities out of reach for far too many people in our country,” said Betsy Hodges, former Mayor of Minneapolis. “To get different outcomes, we need different policies. This plan gives policymakers at all levels of government specific recommendations to address the systemic inequities that have been particularly pronounced for America’s entrepreneurs.”

Data shows that structural barriers to entrepreneurship worsened during the pandemic. Businesses owned by entrepreneurs of color were less likely to secure low-interest government loans in 2020 and more likely to shut down permanently. From February 2020 to April 2020, the number of active business owners in the United States declined 22%—the largest drop on record. Black, Latino, Asian, and female business owners were all more likely to close their doors for good.

But even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the rate of new entrepreneurs was essentially flat for 20 years. While the number of business applications filed in 2020 jumped 24% over 2019, data suggest many new entrepreneurs were spurred by limited options for economic engagement due to layoffs and COVID-19-related restrictions. According to the Kauffman Indicators of Entrepreneurship, the percentage of new entrepreneurs who created a business by choice in 2020 was 69.8%—the lowest this measure has been in 25 years and a year-over-year decline more than twice what was seen during the Great Recession.

To give policymakers the tools to begin removing the barriers that have made it harder for people of color, women, and those in rural communities to start a business, America’s New Business Plan is divided into short-and long-term actions and organized around the four core needs all entrepreneurs have:

  • Access to Opportunity: A level playing field without red tape
  • Access to Funding: The right kind of capital everywhere
  • Access to Knowledge: The know-how to start a business
  • Access to Support: The ability for all to take risks 


About Start Us Up:

Start Us Up is a diverse group of organizations working together to eliminate barriers to starting new businesses. For more information, visit us at

About the Kauffman Foundation:

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private, nonpartisan foundation based in Kansas City, Mo., that seeks to build inclusive prosperity through a prepared workforce and entrepreneur-focused economic development. The Foundation uses its $2.5 billion in assets to change conditions, address root causes, and break down systemic barriers so that all people – regardless of race, gender, or geography – have the opportunity to achieve economic stability, mobility, and prosperity. For more information, visit and connect with us at and

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