About The Tapestry Project

On June 19, 2018 AEO announced the launch of the Tapestry Project, an initiative that seeks to accentuate and accelerate Black business development so that existing businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs reach their full potential.

AEO’s report, The Tapestry of Black Business Ownership in America, paints a picture of the rich diversity of businesses that weave a tapestry of Black business ownership throughout the country. Moreover, the report makes a case for addressing the complex interplay among three acute challenges impeding Black business development: a massive wealth gap, credit gap, and a trust gap fueled through bias. In recent years there has been a resurgence, a proliferation of programs and activities to support Black business development. They generally focus on capital access and/or building the capacity of the business owner. These efforts are necessary but not sufficient on their own in addressing the exponential effects of the interplay among the wealth gap, credit gap, and trust gap. More intentional and innovative approaches are required to help Black-owned businesses achieve their full potential.

AEO believes that there is merit to having a platform for those projects, in order to accentuate and accelerate their impact and ongoing development. The Tapestry Project provides a supporting framework that serves two stakeholder groups: philanthropists/investors and practitioners. For philanthropists and investors, the Tapestry Project creates a marketplace of viable, fundable and investible projects by providing a clear view of the Black business landscape and the resource gaps that exist within it. For practitioners, the Tapestry Project gives access to an infrastructure of services within an innovation backbone, and contract funding for pilot demonstrations through an Action Lab that helps to create, test, and refine models to support Black business development. The Tapestry Project is a single initiative that spans a 3-year period.


Learn About the Tapestry Report

This groundbreaking report explores the diversity among Black business owners in the U.S. and illuminates key findings about the important role that Black-owned businesses have played in the U.S. economy, the barriers that thwart their potential, and the impact they could have on jobs and the economy given the right support. The report also offers new ideas about how to unleash their potential by addressing those barriers, namely, the intersection of the wealth, credit, and trust gaps.

Strategic Priorities


Provide additive value to the broad landscape of Black business development initiatives by increasing the visibility and understanding of their approaches, collecting and communicating their aggregate success and identifying new opportunities in markets, product innovation and resources.


Foster a vibrant, innovative collection of high quality collaborations that highlights black business development and helps to close the racial wealth gap.


Align AEO’s suite of resources, partnerships and infrastructure to support the acceleration of solutions that help Black-owned businesses to reach their full potential.

Tapestry Project Action Lab

The Action Lab is an open space for experimentation and innovation for solutions that address the interplay of the wealth, credit and trust gaps that prevent Black-owned businesses from reaching their potential. AEO has awarded funding to five collaborative projects in five cities that work directly with Black businesses to address the 3 gaps. The collaboratives were selected through a competitive process resulting from a request for applications (RFA).

The Action Lab supports innovatoive “ecosystem approaches.” The Tapestry Project Award Package includes:


  • Funding for innovative ecosystem pilot demonstrations
  • Capital products and trusted guidance resources that could be made available to Black business owners
  • Other offers and innovations from project partners and sponsors developed over the length of the project

Tapestry Project Innovation Registry (TPIR)

The Tapestry Project Innovation Registry is an online registry designed to help broaden the reach of each organization’s work to funders, investors and other potential collaborators. The Innovation Registry connects existing projects and innovations for Black business development with opportunities for funding and partnership.

By registering, practitioners are eligible to access the services below:

  • Storytelling – Opportunities to showcase individual projects/innovations as well as the collective story, which participants can leverage to advance their work and their message.
  • Matchmaking – Enables participants to find, connect, and build relationships they may find beneficial.
  • Convening – The Tapestry Project serves as a platform, allowing participants to network, share information, engage in peer learning, and collaborate on policies and plans.

AEO searches broadly across the U.S. landscape for targets of opportunity – places where the Tapestry Project could help support innovation, and where we might be able to align our work with others, to accomplish greater impact in Black business development than any one organization could do alone.


Nominate an Organization for the Tapestry Registry

Do you know of a program, project or organization specifically supporting Black business development? Nominate them or your organization for the Tapestry Registry. The Registry is designed to broaden the reach and visibility of organizations that support the launch and growth of Black businesses. We want to advance and accelerate the efforts of these organizations.

Click on the icons below to find the Cohort participants who cover that region.