Welcome to the Innovative Finance Playbook

Explore this playbook to learn more about alternative capital products and investment strategies that can bridge capital gaps for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

The Case for Emerging Capital Types

COVID-19 broke open the fractured capital system, further demonstrating a need for capital innovation – a broader continuum of options for a broader diversity of entrepreneurs and firms. The pandemic accelerated and reinforced multiple preexisting dynamics that stymie small firm growth: 1) businesses were forced to close, operate at limited capacity, and rely on credit; 2) PPP laid bare the failures of traditional small business finance in reaching communities of color; 3) business moved online, subject to the Digital Divide, and helping e-commerce giants dominate; and 4) private equity moved into neighborhoods, bolstering absentee landlords and the Dollar Store and Just-in-Time economies; among other headwinds.

Yet this disruption also created an opportunity to rewrite the story of American entrepreneurship. Over the past two years, the number of new firms skyrocketed and record investment flowed to rebuild and restructure our economy, with a particular focus on communities long excluded and hit hardest by the pandemic. Furthermore, the murder of George Floyd reopened deep wounds, further demanding leaders reassess and reprioritize where they invest, who is included, and how decisions, programs, and practices either advance or hinder racial equity. Now, the critical question is whether billions of dollars in commitments, private and public, to equitably serve more Americans, are having their intended, enduring impact in communities that need investment most. 

About the Playbook

This Playbook aims to serve as a touchpoint for this wide array of “capital entrepreneurs” to organize. Our goal is to help diverse founders and funders understand the breadth of resources, details of particular types of innovative models, and the best ways to support inclusive entrepreneurship.

More specifically, grounded in a new focus on investments and delivery systems, the Playbook identifies promising innovative financial products that can iterate and scale to better reach more entrepreneurs, moving beyond the strict dichotomy of debt and equity products, overly narrow risk and growth profiles,  to more flexible and even sector-specific possibilities and opportunities for impactful investment.

Our Contributors

  • Brendan Cosgrove picture

    Brendan Cosgrove

    Innovative Finance, Capital Access Lab

  • Maegan Moore picture

    Maegan Moore

    Innovative Finance, Blueprint Local

  • Michael Belles picture

    Michael Belles

    Innovative Finance, Blueprint Local

  • Ian O'Grady picture

    Ian O’Grady

    Nowak Metro Finance Lab, Drexel University

  • Aunnie Patton Power picture

    Aunnie Patton Power

    Oxford University & Adventure Finance

  • Bruce Katz picture

    Bruce Katz

    Nowak Metro Finance Lab, Drexel University

  • Jamie Finney picture

    Jamie Finney

    Greater Colorado Venture Fund

  • Jonathan Bragdon picture

    Jonathan Bragdon

    Capacity Capital

  • Ross Baird picture

    Ross Baird

    Blueprint Local