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Ways to Run an Inclusive Incubator

Incubators should consider setting up niche programmes to serve the needs of women and minority entrepreneurs - Disha Singla - 17 April 2021

Startup incubators and accelerators have proved to be a common way to support the growth of startup founders, particularly in the high technology sector. Incubators, as well as accelerators, provide entrepreneurs - mentorship, business coaching, networking, free or subsidized office space, and access to capital, with a broad range of opportunities. Incubators and accelerators are built to respond to all entrepreneurs' networking and capital challenges. For women and minority entrepreneurs, these problems are most acute as they do not participate at the same rates as their male and majority partners in high technology incubators and accelerators. Given both the public and private sectors' growing commitment to the numbers of high-tech companies held by women and minorities, the critical move is to make incubators and accelerators of various entrepreneurs more inclusive.

Diversity happens when you make it happen.

Some tools and models incubators and accelerators can implement to become more diverse and inclusive are –

1. Unbiased Application and Selection Processes with Diverse Selection Committees: Inefficient recruiting is one of the key factors why women and minority entrepreneurs have a comparatively low participation rate. The establishment of diverse selection committees can support the establishment of a diverse set of startup founders. Incubators must adjust criteria and streamline the application and selection process.

2. Moving from Boy’s Club Culture to an Inviting Inclusive Open Culture and Celebrating Diversity: The “dude-bro culture” is a carry-over that acts as yet another potent exclusionary factor and women have to work harder to break in. Incubators and accelerators must make room for their diverse and inclusive startup founders base. As an entity made of many different people and brands, there should be an appreciation for the fact that difference and diversity make one stronger - as a company and a community. Being always open and inclusive, drawing on the strengths of one’s different personalities, experiences and mindsets can make the startup community go further and faster.

3. Women and Minority Entrepreneurs Focused Program Design: Incubators should also consider setting up niche programmes to serve the unique needs of women and minority entrepreneurs. Partnering with organizations that serve women and minority entrepreneurs could go a long way. Building relations must be given priority as with the right medium used, prompt comprehension, cooperation promoted and clear conduct can help in encouraging minority entrepreneurs.

4. Collaborate with Corporates, Universities, Co-Working Spaces, and Diverse Cities: Incubators should seek a different method of management and promotion initiatives because it will help them attract a diverse set of startup founders. They should collaborate with universities, co-working spaces, colleges, companies, and cities, and towns from

different varied regions to accomplish this.

High technology incubators and accelerators should adopt a range of inclusive and efficient strategies. This includes widening recruiting networks and developing niche programmes for minority entrepreneurs deliberately.

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