Woman serving drinks to people outside of food truck

Open Access

Access to credit is challenging for many who want to open a first-time food business or restaurant – and historically it has been practically impossible for people of color. The barriers to capital and personal financial risks are much higher. There must be new solutions for cities, counties, and states to reach out and support food entrepreneurs plan, launch, and grow their businesses.

Open Access is the first open-source code web portal available to local governments or organizations at no cost. They are able to customize each site with start-up and working capital financing, education, and support resources. Designed to be “out of the box” ready, it is also adaptable to provide easy access to food entrepreneurs looking for technical assistance, capital, and credit in their communities that will help them plan, launch, and grow their businesses.

VISIt OPEN ACCESS SITES

Open Access LA

Open Access LA, launched in partnership with the Institute for Food System Equity at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and the Los Angeles Food Policy Council (LAFPC), addresses the unique challenges entrepreneurs face when starting a food business.

Open Access Baltimore

Open Access Baltimore, launched in partnership with Morgan State and the City of Baltimore, builds on the good work other cities have done to develop similar portals. Yet it is unique in meeting the specific needs of food entrepreneurs and providing city-specific content for a wide range of food businesses and types.

Open Access Philadelphia

Food entrepreneurs in Philadelphia can now access a new web portal designed to assist community and student businesses in navigating how to plan, launch and grow successful small food enterprises. The Drexel Food Lab and Food & Society released Open Access Philadelphia to better support local small food businesses.

Open Access DC

The first working test site to model the portal is Open Access DC, which focuses on current Washington, D.C. resources and programs. A variety of food entrepreneurs can work through the portal to find existing loan and credit opportunities, relevant technical assistance, and permitting licensing to plan, launch, and grow their business.

how to get started

You can visit Open Access and Open Access DC to experience how the portal works, download the open-source code, and user guide to implement in your community.

To access the code, which you or your web team can duplicate, visit Aspen Institute’s GitHub Account. We also created a user guide that can help you through the process and two videos that demonstrate how to customize and update your version of the portal. A developer should be able to set up and host your application with the template language within a few hours.

We built Open Access and Open Access DC on Heroku. Heroku is a platform that enables you to build, run, and operate applications in an easy and fast way. Based on your organization’s needs and comfort level, you can use Heroku, AWS or another hosting service.

Once you’ve uploaded the code to your platform of choice, you can edit the content specific to your small business community using the content structure we created: Plan, Launch, and Grow. You can edit the text, add links, images, contact info, and more through the administrative section of the website.

Open Access © 2022 by Food & Society at the Aspen Institute is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Our team