During our most recent live, interactive Community of Practice webinar, host David Ponraj was joined by Tarsha Hearns, Sr. Director at The DEC Network in Dallas, TX. Together, they shared the progress of our exciting, collaborative initiative to support underrepresented founders in Dallas. The Dallas-based Entrepreneur of Color Credit Enhancement Fund study was launched in 2023 with an anticipated fund implementation in the fall of 2024. This fund is a partnership between The DEC Network and Economic Impact Catalyst, with generous support from JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Kellogg’s Foundation, and TD Jakes Foundation. The fund plays a crucial role in promoting equitable access to funding by offering tailored lending, products, and programs that address the unique capital access gaps that exist for entrepreneurs of color, while recognizing the specific needs and concerns of the Dallas entrepreneurial community. The Dallas Entrepreneur of Color Credit Enhancement Fund is at work to shape the next generation of diverse entrepreneurs.

Economic development practitioners and ESOs from across the US joined this interactive session during National Entrepreneurship Week to ask questions and learn best practices for establishing their own Entrepreneur of Color Fund in their communities. Watch the recording and book a call with us to learn more.

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Panel Bios:

Tarsha Hearns, Senior Director
The DEC Network (Dallas, TX)
Fueled by her mission to be a voice of equity in entrepreneurship, Tarsha is an accomplished business and marketing strategist passionate about empowering women and minority business owners to have an equal playing field where they can overcome obstacles and succeed in their entrepreneurial journey. Bringing over two decades of excellence as a business leader, Tarsha has spent her career supporting entrepreneurs by offering guidance, support and access to resources. 

After realizing her potential was being wasted in the corporate world, Tarsha left it behind and established herself as a personal brand coach and marketing guru with a vision to help individuals from diverse backgrounds envision, pursue, and fulfill their entrepreneurial dreams. As a professional public speaker, Tarsha has inspired and empowered individuals through my speeches both nationally and internationally. Since 2003, she has trained thousands of women and small business owners in the art of managing and growing a business. 

Over the years, Tarsha’s dedication to train, coach, and lead individuals towards their dreams have allowed her to be the recipient of several awards and accolades. Previously, she served as the Director of the Women’s Business Center in Dallas, where Tarsha and her team have supported the entrepreneurial journey of over 2000 women, helped kickstart over 60 businesses, and assisted entrepreneurs in securing over $10M in funding for their businesses. 

In addition to helping minority entrepreneurs create innovative business solutions, Tarsha loves sharing her experiences through writing and public speaking. Tarsha has been featured in the Black Enterprise Magazine, Dallas Morning News, Good Morning Texas, Dallas Business Journal, Dallas Weekly Newspaper and spoken for the National Football League’s Emerging Business Program. In her book Making an Impact: How to Build a Powerful Personal Brand, she talks about navigating through the highly competitive marketplace by creating a brand that impacts and influences people.

David Ponraj, Founder & CEO
Economic Impact Catalyst

David Ponraj is the founder and CEO of Economic Impact Catalyst (EIC), a technology and marketing research company building solutions to drive inclusive entrepreneurship-led economic development. At EIC, David has worked with economic developers in more than 100 markets to implement community platforms and technology-enabled tools to increase small business success. Prior to founding EIC, David held vice president titles with cross-functional teams at Nielsen, a leading global data and market research firm. A minority business owner himself, David speaks frequently at national conferences and events on the topics of entrepreneurship, engagement of minority-owned small businesses, and inclusive ecosystem building. He holds an MBA from the University of South Florida.