Inspires Change

We believe that entrepreneurship can be a viable pathway out of poverty. By leveraging campus and community resources, we can assist disadvantaged entrepreneurs as the navigate the entrepreneurial journey. These entrepreneurs face a unique set of obstacles beyond those confronted by all entrepreneurs. The Urban Business Poverty Initiative provides a unique approach and toolkit to help our partners walk with these entrepreneurs as the build sustainable enterprises.  This website contains a wealth of resources to help your shape your program.  As you grow, we hope you will also contribute additional tools and resources that can be shared with all the UPBI partners.  

Urban Poverty
Business Initiative

“Poverty is not a characteristic of a person, but rather, their situation.”


Is A Journey

When a business succeeds, it is often with products or services and customer segments that were not the ones they initially had in mind. The entrepreneurial journey is a messy, chaotic, adaptive and emergent one. With the poor and disadvantaged, they often experience a scarcity and very short-term mindset and significant non-business distractions, making it hard to put together five-year business plans, or to think and act strategically. So they hit roadblocks and stop, or they build very fragile businesses. We have found it more productive to focus on step-by-step progress that allows the entrepreneur to put strong building blocks in place as they develop the venture. The UPBI approach involves breaking down the entrepreneurial journey into 80 activity steps, and walking alongside the entrepreneur through the stages of the program over 10+ months. The 80 steps are further broken down into pre-launch steps, launch and early operations steps, and steps related to the movement to sustainability. As the entrepreneurs gain confidence and skills, we find that progress begets progress, and they are able to make great strides in the development of the business on their own.