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Equalising Opportunity

Janis Bowdler of J.P. Morgan tells us how it’s possible to power economic opportunity and do it one small business at a time

When it comes to running a small business, sometimes who you know matters as much as what you know. Family connections, old classmates or business networks can fling the door open to the right introductions, the right expertise and the right funding. But the door to these resources has been shut for entrepreneurs of colour, women and those located in lowincome communities. These businesses have often faced major obstacles getting a strong start without the access and advantages these networks provide. 

The right access

Yet access is exactly what these small business owners need. Given an equal shot at the financial, intellectual and human capital needed to launch a business, these underserved entrepreneurs can and do walk through the door to success. And when they succeed, the benefits reverberate way beyond the economic mainstream. We call these businesses ‘community commerce’ - restaurants, hardware stores, dry cleaners and day cares that boost the vibrancy of existing neighbourhoods and revitalise distressed ones. They also have vast potential to power inclusive economic growth. To take the United States as an example: a study by the Association for Enterprise Opportunity found that if one in three micro businesses in the country hired at least one person, the economy would reach full employment. Arming these underserved entrepreneurs with the resources to succeed can be one of the most powerful levers for creating economic opportunity broadly. 

Positive impact

JPMorgan Chase is tackling major challenges faced by underserved entrepreneurs around the world, especially the availability of targeted technical assistance. Through ‘Small Business Forward’, a five-year, $30 million global initiative that builds on our long-standing commitment to supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs, we are tailoring solutions to meet the needs of women and minority-owned businesses, all with the aim of helping to generate inclusive growth in the communities where we live and work. “Providing capital can positively impact small business growth, including those in underserved communities,” says Chase Business Banking CEO, Jennifer Piepszak. “But beyond lending, we also believe in the power of sharing intellectual capital: advice, technical assistance and connections to supporting services. There is a broad and multiplying effect of both kinds of capital flowing through a community.” 

A Worthwhile ENDEAVOR

Our commitment to small businesses extends globally and reduces the global barriers to economic growth. The barriers to opportunity faced by women- and minority-owned small businesses aren’t unique to the United States, and Small Business Forward backs programmes that open pathways to economic growth and success for underserved entrepreneurs worldwide.

For example, in countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, the Philippines and Singapore we have supported Endeavor, a nonprofit organisation that identifies, mentors and supports entrepreneurs with the greatest potential to contribute to economic growth and social progress in developing markets globally.

Endeavor takes a long-term, focused approach by identifying entrepreneurs with the most potential for social and economic impact in emerging and growth markets around the world. The organisation then connects these entrepreneurs to a network of seasoned global and local business leaders who serve as mentors, advisers, connectors and investors to help them grow their businesses and create jobs. In turn, these entrepreneurs become role models to inspire future generations to innovate. By helping the most promising entrepreneurs develop the skills and networks they need, Endeavor is catalysing long-term economic growth around the world. 

Janis Bowdler is Head of Community Development, Small Business, and Financial Capability Initiatives within Global Philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase & Co, a global leader in corporate philanthropy with more than $200 million invested in communities annually. Under her leadership the firm invests more than $80 million each year to advance strategies that connect distressed communities and underserved individuals and entrepreneurs from around the world with the tools, resources, and opportunities necessary to prosper. In her short time at the firm she has launched several high profile initiatives, including Financial Solutions Lab, PRO Neighborhoods, the National African American Loan Fund, and blight mitigation initiatives in Detroit, MI. Janis has authored a number of publications on financial opportunity and economic mobility. She also serves on the board of Raza Development Fund, the nation’s largest Hispanic Community Development Corporation.

How YTKO helps

YTKO is giving thousands of small business owners in East London the skills and confidence to make it.

YTKO Group’s GetSet for Growth is geared toward small businesses seeking expansion. But the effects are huge: in the past 18 months, the programme has helped support more than 500 businesses and created more than 200 local jobs. In addition, these businesses have been able to access over £500,000 of funding.

The organisation’s 30-year plus track record of advising both new and established businesses throughout its regional UK offices led to YTKO’s forwardthinking collaboration with J.P. Morgan – ultimately resulting in the creation of the GetSet for Growth East London programme, geared toward proactive economic development in this vibrant community. “We started our collaboration with J.P. Morgan in Bournemouth back in 2013, and that pilot programme went so well that we brought it to East London,” said Bev Hurley, CBE, CEO of YTKO. “J.P. Morgan wanted to fund the same project in East London because they could see the need there.”

Through specialised finance, marketing and sales support, the three biggest barriers to growth, GetSet for Growth East London guides a variety of small business owners with a wealth of talent, from fashion designers to gamers. Such entrepreneurs represent a significant slice of the local economy. Recent research by the British Bankers Association identifies that smaller businesses remain engines for growth, creating 60 percent of all private sector jobs, and £1.6 trillion of revenue. It’s all part of YTKO’s mission to facilitate the growth of more than 10,000 companies that will contribute more than £1 billion annually to the British economy by 2020, which they expect to achieve before the end of this year.

“GetSet for Growth London changed our company philosophy by ensuring we understand that failures do occur on the route to success and we can be equipped to handle that. They put us in the right direction, by empowering us with knowledge. They made us believe in our company more than we already did,” noted Christopher Larbi, who runs an advertising company based in Hackney, north London.

Of course, the success of a small business doesn’t only impact its owners; it has a ripple effect throughout the local economy. “The whole point is if we can make [small business owners] more resilient and grow, and improve their profits and turnover, they will take on new people and create new jobs,” Hurley said. 

A rising tide

Hang Ho, Head of Global Philanthropy for Europe, Middle East, Africa and Latin America at J.P. Morgan, talks to Clarelisa Camilleri of EBN about why, for entrepreneurs on the margins of society, a rising tide doesn’t always lift all boats… and what business incubators and accelerators can do to help.

The JPMorgan Chase Foundation is funding EBN to help European incubators and accelerators to share good practice on diversity and inclusion to enhance their practice over the next two years. What’s your motivation?

The phrase ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’ comes from a speech by John F Kennedy. It’s the idea that, if the economy is doing well, all of the businesses in that economy will do well. Through the firm’s corporate responsibility work, we’ve seen that this just isn’t the case; when the tide is rising, some businesses profit much more than others, which is to be expected. However what separates one type of business from the other often isn’t hard work or drive… the underlying problems are more complicated than that.

What kind of businesses have you seen struggling when market conditions are difficult?

Our Foundation works with business accelerators and incubators across Europe and around the world, and different businesses struggle in different contexts. Gender is a big issue: in the UK, aside from the lower overall levels of female entrepreneurship, enterprises run by women are considerably less likely to be approved for a loan. Sometimes it’s a question of geography: in Paris, for instance, entrepreneurs in the Quartier Urbain Prioritaire (low-income urban zones) don’t have the same access to support networks and referrals to business development services as businesses located in richer areas. In Johannesburg, we’ve seen that - even 20 years after the end of apartheid - entrepreneurs of colour face challenges when they try to get onto the supply chains of larger businesses. Our firm’s corporate responsibility agenda seeks to address these imbalances, helping to confront major economic and social challenges by expanding economic opportunity to a wider group of people to drive more inclusive economic growth. In part, we do this by supporting organisations that help businesses to grow in an inclusive way.

What role do business incubators play?

An effective incubator can make such a profound difference to a business - from strategy, to operations, to a founder’s outlook. When an entrepreneur has faced systemic social and economic challenges, they can really benefit from tailored support that addresses their specific need - be it access to supply chain, networks or capital. These entrepreneurs can be difficult to reach, especially when an incubator isn’t linked into their community. However, we’ve seen some approaches hat take the entrepreneur into account, along with their social context, and are quite effective as a result; these are programmes that account for child-care and family commitments, transportation costs and business hours - all the things that make up an entrepreneurs’ daily life, and can make life hard for entrepreneurs whose backgrounds create extra challenges. Through our work with EBN, we’re bringing together business accelerators and incubators to take a look at their clients through a social and economic lens, to share good practices, and to shape their services for a wave of fresh talent. That’s the sea-change we’re looking for.

Hang Ho leads J.P. Morgan’s philanthropic efforts across Europe, Middle East, Africa and Latin America. This includes the direct management of all grant-making and related employee engagement activities in 24 countries across the region in the areas of workforce readiness, small business development and financial capability. During her time at J.P. Morgan, Hang also played a leadership role in developing the firm’s diversity programme across the Bournemouth campus. Hang participated in the CityUK Social Mobility Steering Group which is responsible for bringing CityUK members together to share best practice and raise awareness of activities to promote social mobility among financial and professional companies. Hang also served on the London Child Poverty Delivery Group for place-based programmes, set up by UK Ministers to tackle child poverty in London.

Published on 13-07-2017 00:00 by Hang Ho. 1073 page views

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