Financing and Building Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Opportunities in Cities

On June 8th from 9-10am Pacific Time, Meeting of the Minds will host a live webinar, featuring Andrea Chen of Propeller and Napoleon Wallace of Self-Help.



Andrea Chen and Napoleon Wallace are two excellent examples of leaders blending the worlds of entrepreneurship, social impact, job creation, and economic opportunities in America’s cities. All too often, these words seem diabolically opposed to each other. How can a start-up or new business create jobs, pay living wages and solve the food or water crisis? Andrea and Napoleon’s work proves that it’s possible.

Andrea Chen is the Executive Director of Propeller in New Orleans – a social impact accelerator that arose from the ashes of Hurricane Sandy when government resources were not enough to rebuild the local economy and neighborhoods. Since 2011, Propeller has launched “90 ventures through its accelerator, creating 130 new jobs in New Orleans and generating $36 million in external financing and revenue, plus an additional $80,000 in seed funding awarded to early-stage startups in the PitchNOLA competitions.”

Just as Andrea is investing in businesses that had few investment opportunities, Napoleon Wallace is investing in Americans that the banking industry has largely turned its back on. Napoleon is an Executive at Self-Help – a national family of member-owned, mission-driven credit unions. It also serves as a nonprofit loan fund and a policy advocacy organization that works to expand business ownership and economic opportunities for all income groups. Self-Help was instrumental in ensuring that the predatory mortgage bill passed in North Carolina – one of the first state-level bills on this issue passed in the country. Self-Help also has a “secondary markets” program, through which they have partnered with large banks that don’t want to take certain credit risks – typically in low-income communities.


Andrea Chen

C0-Founder & Executive Director

Andrea is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Propeller: A Force for Social Innovation, a social innovation incubator in New Orleans focused on systemic change in sectors such as food access, water, public health, and education. Propeller has accelerated ​over 9​0 new ventures that have generated over $60mm in revenues and financing in the last five years. Successes include the Healthy School Food Collaborative, which has brought healthy school meals to 43% of New Orleans public schools. Propeller’s 10,000 s.f. Propeller Incubator facility is now home to over 150 socially minded companies. Andrea was named “40 Under 40” by Gambit Magazine, 2014 Aspen Institute Scholar, 2014 BALLE Fellow, 2014 Norman C. Francis Institute Fellow, and 2010 City Business Women of the Year. She completed her B.A. at Stanford University and M.Ed. at ​UNO and Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Napoleon Wallace


Napoleon Wallace is a member of the executive staff at Self-Help managing special projects across the organization, including small business lending, credit union turnarounds, mergers & portfolio acquisitions and community development real estate projects. Prior to joining Self-Help, Napoleon worked as a consultant holding engagements with the SJF Ventures, Natural Capital Investment Fund, B-Lab, GAIN of Geneva and HIP Investor. Prior to his time as a consultant, Napoleon worked at Wells Fargo Capital Markets and M&F Bancorp’s Commercial Credit group. Over the course of his career, Napoleon has been a founding member of three startups, which have spanned the financial service, legal and food service industries. 

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