LA2050 Grants Challenge applications are open now through June 28th, 2024.
2023 Grants Challenge

Capital Readiness for Underrepresented Entrepreneurs

Pi's goal is to prepare underrepresented Black & Brown entrepreneurs to be capital ready as part of our Fundable CEO program. In reality, capital readiness is just a new term for being bankable. We will teach these business owners how to develop and pitch a financial package that is sound. We will teach them how to leverage capital to sustain and scale their businesses above the $1,000,000 level. Social Entrepreneurship is what makes us unique. Of the companies we work with, our goal is that 60% also be certified to become a B-Corp.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Income Inequality

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

County of Los Angeles

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

Businesses especially those owned by the underrepresented Black and Brown community rarely exceed $1MM in sales and do not typically close the wealth gap or offer a wealth transfer to subsequent generations. The scope and scale of the problem is such that 80% of Black and Brown businesses create no legacy or transfer of wealth once the founder dies. Pi trains Black and Brown, Women, and Veteran emerging business owners and helps them build a legacy business above $1MM in sales and sustainable into the 2nd or 3rd generation thus closing the wealth gap. Pi reaches out to under-served communities of persons adversely affected by persistent poverty, discrimination, or inequality, including Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), LGBTQ+ individuals, women, immigrants, veterans, individuals with disabilities, individuals in rural communities, individuals without a college degree, Individuals with or recovering from substance use disorder, and justice-involved individuals.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

Pi offers two levels of practitioner and mentor driven training and technical assistance on a tuition-free basis. Pi is industry agnostic. Unlike many industry-specific incubators and accelerators, Pi is open to all types of industries. Instead, Pi targets entrepreneurs that are coachable, have grit, and have a vision to grow a business to annual sales of $1,000,000 in three to five years. Regardless of location, industry, or market segment, it is Pi's intent to deliver an entrepreneurial training and technical assistance program especially for low-to-moderate-income entrepreneurs and under-served Black & Brown entrepreneurs to help them find financial freedom and create a positive business legacy for future generations. To reach the Fundable CEO level means they have completed the first two phases. In order to be ready for their phase 3, Access to Capital, Pi culminates their capital readiness-training program with a Showcase event called Founders Meets Funders Demo Day. Pi Phase-1 (incubator) Clients presents a 5-Minute "Go to Market" Pitch whereas Phase-2 (accelerator) Clients presents a 10-minutes "Investor Quality" Pitch during the Showcase. Pi invites Angel individual investors, Angel groups, Venture Capitalists, and Community Development Lenders to attend the Showcases. In just two plus years, Pi launched three separate Cohort Classes of startups, early stage, and emerging businesses (one to nine years in business) for a total of 84 businesses served thus far.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

Our vision is To Launch 1,000 Social Entrepreneur...Ships by 2032, representing success for our overall program. Polk Institute (Pi) launched in September 2020, right in the heart of the negativity created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Pi was a positive ray of hope. Now imagine the positive impact created by the prosperity coming from the 1000 companies that Pi launches and 60% or 600 of them become social entrepreneurs. 100% is not realistic for social entrepreneur converts, however 60% is certainly realistic. Now imagine the positive impact that PI will have on Los Angeles County. Imagine the multiplier effect that our 600 Social Entrepreneurs who share a purpose driven mission of The Triple Bottom Line of People + Planet + Planet will create. Imagine if 600 companies averaged sales of $1,250,000 each over the next five years for a total of $750,000,000. What if...those 600 companies created just seven new jobs each over the next five years for a total of 4,200 new jobs.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

The Polk Institute (Pi) promotes social entrepreneurship, leading to more companies like Ben & Jerry's, Patagonia, and Tom's Shoes. This benefits Los Angeles County residents fostering more communities achieving social justice. Social entrepreneurship cultivates ethical leaders who prioritize sustainable practices, care for their employees, and challenge profit-centric mindsets. Pi's vision of launching 1,000 ventures by 2032 includes empowering underrepresented groups. Overall, our efforts create positive change by supporting social entrepreneurs and making a significant impact on society.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 75

Indirect Impact: 100