Building community wealth through real estate and entrepreneurship programs
Community wealth building strategies aim to improve the ability of communities to increase asset ownership, anchor jobs locally and ensure local economic resilience. The Guild takes a systems approach to creating collaborative, inclusive, and sustainable communities, with the aim of addressing the root causes of economic inequality.
Entrepreneurship and real estate have both been key wealth building strategies in America, however, systemic racism in capital access, housing policy and urban development have locked communities of color out of the same opportunities.
In cities like Atlanta, “big development” has accelerated gentrification and displacement of Black communities. Large infrastructure projects meant to be economic engines only benefit new, higher-income residents, while developers continue to build for investors rather than existing communities.
In 2015, we started out by being Atlanta’s first co-living company, creating spaces for changemakers — entrepreneurs, artists, and community organizers — to live, work, gather and thrive. In addition to providing live/work spaces, our program targeted their venture and personal development. Our workshops and trainings cover everything from advanced business basics, to personal finance coaching, and even things like mindful meditation, to provide holistic support to these changemakers who work to positively impact their communities.
Since then, we’ve evolved and grown, when it became clear that these changemakers were at the threat of being displaced due to gentrification. Our city is grappling with both residential and commercial gentrification, with legacy residents and businesses both at the frontline of displacement. This kind of development only serves to widen the already existing racial wealth gap, so we’re exploring new models for our upcoming deals.
What if there was an alternative development model in which communities could own more of the assets — the real estate and the small businesses — that make them so vibrant?
At The Guild, we’re focused on reimagining real estate development to build community wealth and resilience. Our entrepreneurship programs work synergistically with our real estate strategy by building and providing a pipeline of viable small businesses — businesses that are otherwise at the threat of being displaced — to our real estate projects. Our work is based on the idea that there is an alternative economic development model where more people, especially those marginalized and excluded from our current systems, can own and govern more of the assets that make our communities vibrant. To do this, we:
Foster equitable real estate development by working across different stakeholder groups
We work with developers, investors and tenants to create deals that center equity, provide a path to community ownership, and ensure that wealth isn’t extracted out of communities.
Bolster entrepreneurial ecosystems in underserved communities
We provide business accelerator and training programs to help small businesses grow sustainably. We prioritize minority-owned businesses and entrepreneurs from underserved communities.
Grow the field for new economic models through gatherings and trainings
We recognize the need for economic alternatives to capitalism that help close the racial wealth gap and meet the limitations of a finite planet. Our offerings range from trainings on worker-owned cooperatives to climate initiatives.