The goals for startup founders are clear. Founders need capital and customers to grow their businesses and create jobs. However, minority entrepreneurs frequently feel like outsiders.
Darrin Redus, vice president at Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce and founder of the Cincinnati Minority Business Collaborative (CMBC), is working hard to make diversity and inclusion (D&I) part of everyday business.
Redus believes that Cincinnati business founders can be thought leaders on the subject of anti-racist companies. A 2019 LendingTree report identified Cincinnati in the top 10 of the largest 50 US metropolitan areas where minorities are finding success.
Cincinnati Future spoke with Redus about his vision.
How are diverse and inclusive workspaces crucial for Cincinnati's future entrepreneurial and startup success?
Redus: Continuing to foster and cultivate an environment where diverse entrepreneurs can come together, share ideas, best practices, and resources is foundational to a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem. Many ethnically diverse entrepreneurs lack access to critical networks and relationships vital in the pursuit and readiness for early-stage capital and client relationships. Fostering diverse and inclusive workplaces is undoubtedly one way to ensure that these critical connections take place.
What leadership roles around diversity and inclusion can the CMBC provide to current and future business leaders?
Redus: The CMBC creates unique access and pathways to decision-makers at the highest levels of business and government. Whether it's leadership roles with the Minority Business Accelerator itself or leveraging its vast regional and national network to facilitate pathways to leadership for businesses large and small, the Accelerator is a direct conduit to these critical relationships.
What are some of the accomplished goals from the Minority Entrepreneurial Connectivity Assessment (MECA)? What benchmarks from the MECA report remain?
Redus: Some of the early and foundational work of creating an emerging pipeline of minority, tech-based entrepreneurs is well underway and generating strong momentum. Building upon these efforts to ensure that more minority entrepreneurs are securing higher amounts of angel and venture capital and leveraging that capital to attract critical customer relationships to scale their businesses to sizable enterprises is ongoing work that must occur.
Increasing workplace diversity and inclusion is a global challenge. What D&I challenges are unique to the Greater Cincinnati business ecosystem?
Redus: The challenges around workplace diversity and inclusion that are unique to the Cincinnati region center on ensuring that the core industries of this region, specifically advanced manufacturing, bio health, business and professional services, and technology are at optimal levels from a D&I standpoint. As crucial as workplace diversity and inclusion are for all industries across the board, those industries that identify as regional strengths must also reflect the diversity of the region if all citizens are to reap the benefits of a growing and thriving economy.
Click here to learn the stories of the minority businesses in Cincinnati through the Minority Business Building a Business Enterprise Series.