Innovation Works: Fostering Racial Equity Through Social Entrepreneurship And Impact Investing In Baltimore

In Baltimore, where vibrant communities coexist with systemic disparities, a glimmer of hope emerges through social entrepreneurship and impact investing. As the CEO of Innovation Works, I have witnessed the immense potential of these forces to address the racial wealth gap in Baltimore City and catalyze transformative change in underserved neighborhoods.

Like many other urban centers across the United States, Baltimore City grapples with deep-rooted racial inequalities that have persistently stifled economic opportunities for communities of color. Generations of systemic barriers have hindered talented individuals’ entrepreneurial ambitions and stifled local businesses’ growth. In this ongoing fight against such entrenched disparities, social entrepreneurship and impact investing are proving to be powerful allies, illuminating a path toward a more equitable future.

 Initially, Innovation Works focused on private sector and philanthropic support rather than relying on public sector resources. Recently, we began to engage more with the public sector. This strategic shift aligns with Baltimore City’s recent policy efforts, notably Mayor Brandon Scott’s allocation of ARPA funds to support small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC) was crucial in distributing $11.7 million of these funds, focusing on local, small businesses, especially those owned by Black, Brown, and women entrepreneurs. This new phase in Innovation Works’ strategy marks a deeper engagement with community impact initiatives and leveraging public sector resources.