About Neighborhood Start Fund

Neighborhood Start Fund was founded in 2015 by Di-Ann Eisnor and Lupe Fiasco to turn ideas into startups. The fund was born out of a shared concern about inequality and lack of diversity in the innovation economy. From 2015-2017, we supported entrepreneurs and startups from underserved areas, providing access, networks, workshops, mentoring, and funding.

We launched our pilot program in Brownsville, Brooklyn in October 2015 and went on to establish funds in 9 neighborhoods in 2016. The Neighborhood Start Fund was covered by several media outlets, including Fast Company, Huffington Post, Atlanta Black Star, and Technical.ly. These publications highlighted the fund's innovative approach to supporting entrepreneurs and its potential for driving economic growth in underserved communities.

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Funding Big Ideas

Neighborhood Start Fund was founded on the belief that good ideas can come from anywhere. We created neighborhood-specific funds to support entrepreneurs and startups that might otherwise go overlooked.

As Di-Ann Eisnor emphasized, "Entrepreneurship is really supposed to be about scarcity and solving problems. There are different kinds of entrepreneurs and we have to get back to solving problems. And there are plenty of people who have already identified problems but they don't have a way to do anything with that."

Our pilot in Brownsville showcased the untapped potential in underserved communities. At a business pitch competition in November 2015, Brownsville entrepreneurs presented ideas ranging from a digital platform for mental health resources to a marketplace for discovering subway performers. The winners, Lennie Carter (+1), Quardean Lewis-Allen (ShoodBE), and Bens Hilaire (SubwayTalent), each received $5,000 in funding and in-kind services from Folio3 to turn their ideas into reality.

Hyper Local Economic Impact

The Neighborhood Start Fund aimed to support local entrepreneurship and create a positive economic impact in underserved communities. By providing funding, mentorship, and resources to entrepreneurs, we hoped to foster a sense of community ownership and empowerment.

  • Local Investment: The fund focused on supporting entrepreneurs and businesses within specific neighborhoods, with the goal of keeping investment and economic growth local.
  • Mentorship and Resources: In addition to funding, the Neighborhood Start Fund provided mentorship and resources to help entrepreneurs navigate the challenges of starting and growing a business.
  • Community Impact: By supporting local businesses and entrepreneurs, the fund aimed to create jobs, improve local services, and contribute to the overall economic health of the community.

While the Neighborhood Start Fund's impact may not have reached the scale initially envisioned, it demonstrated the potential for community-driven entrepreneurship to create positive change. The lessons learned from this initiative can inform future efforts to support inclusive entrepreneurship and economic development in underserved communities.

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Entrepreneurs and Investors from Different Industries

Speaker 1

Di-Ann Eisnor

Director Waze/Google, Co-Founder Neighborhood Start Fund.

Speaker 2

Lupe Fiasco

Rapper, producer, entrepreneur, Co-Founder Neighborhood Start Fund.

Speaker 3

Pernell Brice III

Executive Director, Dream Big Foundation.


These partners are providing pro bono services to Neighborhood Start Fund and our entrepreneurs