New Jersey doesn’t just talk about diversity and inclusion. We live it every day. We are ranked as the #4 most diverse U.S. state. Jersey City is the #1 most culturally diverse city in America. It’s also the world leader for percentage of female startup founders.
New Jersey embraces different perspectives and encourages new ideas. We support startups looking to reach market. And we value the 884, 000 small businesses representing nearly half of New Jersey’s private sector workforce.
Most importantly, our State recognizes the historical barriers to success for minority entrepreneurs. Many lack access to funding, affordable space and mentorship opportunities. New Jersey is home to Black-owned coworking spaces, commercial kitchens, consulting organizations and angel investor groups that are looking to bridge this gap. Here are a few of New Jersey’s top incubators and investors that focus on supporting BIPOC entrepreneurs and small business owners.
=SPACE coworking space and incubator based in Newark, NJ. Part of =SPACE’s mission is to address the underrepresentation of diverse, successful entrepreneurs, particularly in tech. Founders CITI Medina and Rafael Roman designed a space for founders of all backgrounds to feel welcome to work and share ideas. Beyond desks and suites for rent, =Space offers programming that includes business strategy sessions and VC chats. =Space is part of New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA)’s NJ Ignite program that enables qualified startups to apply rent free.
“As one of the largest Black/Brown owned shared-spaces in New Jersey, we dedicate ourselves to providing opportunities and resources to multicultural founders, women ventures, and LGBTQ+ enterprises. We love Newark and always step up to the challenge of ensuring our space is accessible to all individuals who enter our humble abode. With the city’s entrepreneurial community ever growing, =SPACE wants to open wider doors for new and long standing local techies, freelancers, creatives, and everyone in-between” said Akosua Ayim, Interim CEO, =SPACE.
Digitalundivided is a social startup that focuses on creating pathways to success for Black and Latinx women entrepreneurs. Founded in Atlanta, the research and advocacy organization moved to an office in Newark in early 2020. Digitalundivided offers virtual training, incubator and leadership coaching programs specifically tailored for Black and Latinx founders. This includes 200 workshops, keynotes and panel presentations each year.
CoWork Street, located in Camden, NJ, is a hybrid coworking space for freelancers and entrepreneurs and nonprofit community space. An NJ Ignite approved facility, CoWork Street offers flex desk and office space, business consulting services and networking opportunities.
When Rosemari Hicks, Founder & CEO, launched her human resources business, RHC Consulting, she discovered her passion for supporting other entrepreneurs, especially women, through their own business journey. As a result, she expanded her HR practice to include consulting to micro business operations, including pre-launch, startup and early stage growth. To build on this support, she then “decided to create a space in Camden where folks, especially entrepreneurs of color, at various stages of start-up or scale-up, would feel comfortable and with a sense of community to grow a business.”
Headquartered in Jersey City, NJ, Rising Tide Capital(RTC) is a nonprofit organization that provides entrepreneurial development services and empowers underserved urban communities. Born and raised in Ethiopia, co-founder and CEO Alfa Demmellash has been named among Forbes’ Most Powerful Women Changing the World with Philanthropy. RTC has helped over 3,000 early-stage companies through its Community Business Academy. The that provides hands-on coaching and connection to resources. Within two years of graduating, its entrepreneurs achieve a 112% increase in sales and a 58% increase in household income.
The Black and Latino Angel Investment Fund of New Jersey was launched by the Center for Urban Entrepreneurship & Economic Development (CUEED) at Rutgers University in 2019. Thus far, the Fund has secured $500,000 from local private investors committed to working with Rutgers to invest seed-stage capital in startups owned by people of color.
Rutgers has helped over 400 young entrepreneurs open new businesses. Seventy percent of the entrepreneurs supported by CUEED are African-American or Latinx. Sixty percent are women and 40% are residents from Newark and Essex County. The have ranged from restaurants and beauty shops to technology, cannabis, health care and solar energy. Of the 400 businesses that CUEED has assisted, over 160 are generating more than $1 million in revenue.
Hudson Kitchen is a culinary incubator that recently moved into a commercial kitchen space in Kearny Point. Kearny Point is a modern co-working and flexible-use campus located five miles outside of Manhattan on a converted shipyard. Hudson Kitchen supports food and beverage entrepreneurs with mentorship, business training and marketing support to with scale up their business. Many of its founders are artisanal innovators celebrating diverse cuisines from around the world. MEZMEZ, an Egyptian frozen food brand assisted by Choose New Jersey, is one of the facility’s recent tenants.
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