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Rising Voices, the podcast on underrepresented entrepreneurship

Itinera introduces you to the new podcast "Rising Voices". This new series seeks to provide a platform for underrepresented entrepreneurs to share their stories and experiences, offer guidance and advice, and inspire others to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. We are eager to hear the stories – successes and difficulties – of underrepresented groups of individuals in entrepreneurship to inspire society. The initiative aims to go beyond conventional conversations with underrepresented entrepreneurs and foster dialogues between them and successful entrepreneurs who have overcome similar obstacles. Through these exchanges, we hope to facilitate mutual learning.

Underrepresented entrepreneurship is an essential and significant topic in the present scenario, where minority entrepreneurs face numerous challenges and barriers while setting up and running their businesses. Research shows that entrepreneurs from minority groups face more difficulties than their mainstream counterparts in establishing their businesses, and their businesses are less likely to operate in high-value-added sectors with growth potential[i].

Moreover, underrepresented entrepreneurs still face challenges, such as access to funding, networking opportunities, and gender biases. Furthermore, covering the topic of underrepresented entrepreneurship in our podcast will not only bring to light the challenges faced by those groups of entrepreneurs but also inspire and motivate other individuals from minority groups to become entrepreneurs. It will also provide a platform for successful underrepresented entrepreneurs to share their experiences, knowledge, and insights with aspiring entrepreneurs

Discussing inclusive entrepreneurship is also important in terms of the growth and development of the economy. Research shows that minority-led businesses have many advantages to society and the economy, such as increased innovation, productivity, job creation, and revenues. Therefore, we launch the podcast “Rising Voices” which highlights the experiences and insights of successful underrepresented entrepreneurs, provides advice, and resources, and promotes diversity and inclusivity in business. "Rising Voices" aims to inspire upcoming entrepreneurs, in particular from underrepresented groups in society, to start and grow their businesses, showcase their achievements, and address the barriers and challenges in entrepreneurship. The podcast will feature interviews with entrepreneurs from diverse industries and backgrounds, discussing their entrepreneurial journeys, lessons learned, and strategies for success

Minority entrepreneurship is rising globally, and it has immense potential to contribute to the economic growth of countries. In the United States, more than 50% of businesses over the last ten years were created by minority entrepreneurs and they created 4.7 million jobs[i].

In Belgium, women-owned businesses account for 31.6% of all enterprises, and the number has been increasing steadily in recent years. The country has recognized the importance of promoting gender equality and supporting female entrepreneurs. In 2021, the Belgian government launched a new initiative to support women's entrepreneurship, which aims to provide funding, training, and mentoring for female entrepreneurs[i]. As for businesses held by migrants, Europe launched in 2022 the “Entrepreneurship 2020 action plan” which aims to unleash the entrepreneurial potential in Europe, to revolutionize the entrepreneurial culture in Europe and to remove existing obstacles[ii]. Concerning entrepreneurs with disabilities in Belgium, there is limited information available. According to the federal Department of Economics’ yearly Workforce Survey, around 26 000 self-employed people were disabled in 2016, compared to 16 000 in 2009[iii].

Overall, while disabled, migrants and women entrepreneurs in Belgium face challenges, there are also many initiatives and resources available to support and promote their success – which we will talk about.

[iii] OECD. (2020). Inclusive Entrepreneurship Policies, Country Assessment Notes.

[i] Minority Entrepreneurs - U.S. Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship.