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ESHIP Summit
Alberta McCrory, mayor of Hobson City, Alabama, collaborates with a colleague at Mayors Conference on Entrepreneurship in Kansas City, Missouri, July 2018.

An entrepreneurial spirit is at the heart of the work we do across the Kauffman Foundation every day.

Our founder, Mr. Kauffman, believed it was a fundamental right for anyone who had a big idea to be able to bring it to life. We work with entrepreneurs, empower them with tools and resources, and work to break down barriers that stand in the way of starting and growing their businesses.

> 81%

of entrepreneurs do not access a bank loan or venture capital.


of venture capital dollars went to African-American and Latino founders in 2016.

< 2%

of venture capital dollars went to women founders in 2016.

Here’s the reality: Too many are left out of our economy. A recent report expands on the connection between the long-term decline in entrepreneurship and the effect on productivity and growth. The lackluster productivity drags down wages and living standards. Put simply – fewer startups mean a lower quality of life for Americans. We need to contribute to a new economic model. One that infuses entrepreneurship into the economy and removes barriers to starting and growing businesses.

As Mr. Kauffman said, we believe that everyone has a fundamental right to turn an idea into an economic reality, regardless of who you are or where you’re from, with zero barriers in the way.

How to work with us

Wondering how you can get involved in the Kauffman Foundation’s entrepreneurship work? Find the statement below that fits your interests and learn more.

Entrepreneurship Focus Areas


We work to create supportive communities for entrepreneurs to make an idea a reality by empowering entrepreneurs everywhere as agents of progress. The strategy models a new approach to economic development by pioneering the principles, culture, tools, and metrics for successful entrepreneurial communities.

New Entrepreneurial Learning

Creating a learning community of entrepreneurs, providing people with ideas the connections, tools, and support needed to be successful, like launching a revamped Kauffman FastTrac and expanding 1 Million Cups to more markets and demographics.

Entrepreneur Support Organizations

Through our grantmaking, we work to benefit entrepreneurs across the Heartland region of the United States (Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas) by ensuring entrepreneurs have equitable access to the resources they need to start and grow businesses. We convene and make grants to Heartland ESOs in order to develop programs, forge partnerships, and build organizational capacity to serve more entrepreneurs with high-quality support.


Starting a business is difficult enough; government shouldn’t make it harder or more complicated. We provide advocates access to funding, resources, and learning opportunities so that the voices of entrepreneurs make a greater impact on policy debates at the local, state, and federal level.


We aim to create actionable insights and practical tools to reduce barriers to entrepreneurs through problem-based grantmaking, advances in data, and translation capacity and infrastructure.