Date: January 9, 2023



Erika Whitehead

(269) 216-1290

The Kalamazoo Community Foundation’s New Inclusive Economy Team Receives Investment from JPMorgan Chase to Support Small Business Growth

Kalamazoo, Mich. – JPMorgan Chase proudly invested $220,000 into the Kalamazoo Community Foundation’s (KZCF) New Inclusive Economy (NIE) team. The purpose of the investment is to support Kalamazoo’s small business ecosystem development in alignment with the objectives of the NIE team.

With this investment, the NIE team hopes to address the disproportionate barriers Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) entrepreneurs face when starting and growing businesses in Kalamazoo by remapping the Kalamazoo ecosystem, developing systems for better coordination, and identifying and hiring a navigator for the ecosystem. The NIE team aims to accomplish these goals over the next two years.

“JPMorgan Chase knows small businesses are the backbone of the economy and an inclusive workforce is stronger because of its diversity,” said Pierre Batton, vice president, Global Philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase. “We are proud of this investment and its goal to help increase economic prosperity by breaking down structural and systemic barriers to growing and expanding Black, Hispanic and Latino-owned businesses.”

With a plan to address challenges like accessing available capital, coordinating between Kalamazoo’s entrepreneurial support organizations, overcoming historic power imbalances and accessing ‘best practices’ training, the NIE endeavors to provide Kalamazoo’s small business owners with the tools they need to succeed.

“Entrepreneurship makes for vibrant communities and opens wealth-building opportunities for small business owners,” said Joshua Sledge, chief investment officer at KZCF. “The New Inclusive Economy team seeks to help create a thriving, equitable ecosystem that helps drive entrepreneurial success.”

In late 2022, KZCF and United Way of South Central Michigan convened local stakeholders to form the NIE team. Together, both organizations have worked together to revamp the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Kalamazoo through strengthened coordination.

“There are so many entrepreneurs serving organizations right now in Kalamazoo, and we have come to the realization that we have the unique opportunity to make the biggest impact in the community if we are able to work collaboratively in a meaningful way with each other instead of organizations working individually,” said Tshepo Mathekga, community investment officer at KZCF and NIE team lead. “We really believe that through authentic relationship building, meaningful collaboration and coordination among ecosystem partners, we can shift the needle in terms of services that are provided to entrepreneurs.”

The NIE team is comprised of small business owners, support organizations and funders with firsthand experience advancing entrepreneurship in Kalamazoo. Since its formation, the team has reviewed and contributed their own insight into the barriers that BIPOC entrepreneurs and business owners face locally.

About Kalamazoo Community Foundation

KZCF, established in 1925, has the vision of Kalamazoo County being the most equitable place to live, with the mission to mobilize people, resources and expertise to advance racial, social and economic justice. Learn more at