Supporting Entrepreneurs of Color with Brynn Plummer
Brynn Plummer, Vice President of Inclusion and Community Relations at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, shares her insight into the enormous potential that can be realized by making entrepreneurship more equitable.
Brynn Plummer understands that economics play a major role in the systems of inequity that exist in the U.S. today. As Vice President of Inclusion and Community Relations at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, she’s working to make sure that all entrepreneurs can succeed and thrive.
“Women are less likely to get funded, women of color are less likely to get funded, and people of color are less likely to get funded. And when you put all three of those together, they’re also less likely to achieve the same kind of success as white, male-owned firms,” she explained.
In this episode of Speak Up for Equity, Tennessee Diversity Consortium Executive Director Robert Lawrence Wilson talks with Plummer about the changing landscape for BIPOC entrepreneurs. Plummer also shares about the work the Entrepreneur Center is doing to become more representative of the broader Nashville.
Transformation at the Organizational Level
Until recent years, the Nashville EC focused on serving a demographic of mostly wealthy, mostly white individuals, because those people were the ones who had power. Eventually, the team at the EC started to realize that this focus was not going to serve them well as the city’s entrepreneurial landscape evolved.
“I think they realized that being seen as synonymous with a certain part of Nashville — that was white, moneyed and maybe out of touch with the everyday civilian — was not going to take them far. That was not where we were seeing growth in the entrepreneur marketplace,” Plummer explained.
When she started at the EC, Plummer began working to build connections with people of color, women and LGBTQ+ individuals in an effort to better understand their needs. The EC has since built a program specifically for founders of color, and they’ve also gotten better at supporting diverse groups of entrepreneurs throughout all of their programs.
“We’ve gone from diversity, to inclusion, to equity. Our high touch programs are about 70% more diverse than they were when I came in,” Plummer shared.
Creating a Culture of Collaboration
When Plummer and the rest of the EC team started focusing more on outreach to underserved communities, they realized that it was important to partner with the organizations that had already been doing that work for years.
Plummer believes this is essential for any organizations who are trying to focus more on equity. Since white supremacy culture is transactional and process oriented, she believes it’s better to focus on relationships and stay outcome oriented.
“[It’s] inviting the wisdom of these organizations that have all this institutional knowledge, while also being open handed in what I have to share,” she explained. “We don’t have to all be doing the same thing. We definitely don’t want to duplicate resources, and we don’t want to duplicate efforts.”
Seeing the Value in BIPOC Entrepreneurs
As Plummer works to support entrepreneurs on an individual level, she’s also passionate about changing the larger systems that support inequity in the entrepreneurial community.
To do this, she believes a bi-directional approach is most effective. First, she’s working to help the Nashville community see the potential in its entrepreneurs of color and encouraging people to support Black and Brown-owned businesses in the city. Second, she believes it’s important to help POC-owned businesses in lower-yield industries understand how they can expand and increase their profits.
“In the entrepreneurial community, there’s a lot of deficit-based talk about entrepreneurs of color, and BIPOC entrepreneurs in particular. And i just want to really turn that on its head and think about, ‘What are all the assets here? This is a community that likely knows a market segment that you know nothing about,’” she explained.
And while it can be frustrating to see that change isn’t happening fast enough, Plummer remains confident that change is still possible.
“Everything that feels intractable was made by man, so it can be unmade by man or woman or people.”
To learn more about the ways you can get involved with the Tennessee Diversity Consortium, visit tennesseediversityconsortium.org/join-tdc. And be sure to subscribe to Speak Up for Equity wherever you listen to podcasts so you never miss an episode.