Initiative for Inclusive Entrepreneurship

The Initiative for Inclusive Entrepreneurship (IIE) is a national initiative working to increase the flow of capital to entrepreneurs of color — creating opportunities for them to start and grow their businesses — by leveraging private and philanthropic investments and serving as a force multiplier for historic levels of federal resources. The Initiative has a primary focus on ensuring that the $10 billion State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) reaches underserved entrepreneurs.

The Aspen Institute’s Business Ownership Initiative (BOI) joined the IIE in January 2024 as co-lead in IIE’s work focused on Main Street businesses. BOI has been helping microlenders increase their scale and impact for more than 30 years — particularly for business owners of color, women, rural firms, and others who have been excluded from access to traditional sources of capital — and this is where our expertise will play a role in IIE’s success. Working with our partners at Scale Link, we’re focused on helping community development financial institutions (CDFIs) tap resources from the SSBCI to scale loan originations under $100,000.

Scale Link, created in collaboration with BOI, is a three-year old CDFI that offers a secondary market for CDFI-originated microloans. Together, we’re working with six CDFI partners — the Microfinance Impact Collaborative — to assess and identify ways in which SSBCI programs can effectively support their lending. And through the IIE’s knowledge network, we’ll engage with the US Treasury and SSBCI administrators to identify practical strategies and tools for enabling SSBCI to support microlending.

IIE is led and incubated by Hyphen. To learn more about the initiative, including its strategic components, geographic targets, and implementation partners, click here.