Philadelphia Anchors for Growth and Equity: Applying the Lean Startup Methodology to Build a Financially Sustainable Anchor Collaborative

  • Mariya Khandros Economy League of Greater Philadelphia
Keywords: strategic planning, local purchasing, collective impact, best practices, case study


As poverty and inequality continue to plague American cities, universities and hospitals are looking for ways to leverage their role as community anchors to address these issues. Local procurement programs have emerged as one way for institutions to build local wealth and create jobs. In order to increase the impact of individual institutions, many cities are creating place-based collaboratives to amplify the impact of individual anchors. However, because collaboratives focus on systems-level change, which can take many years to achieve, they frequently struggle to raise and sustain necessary levels of funding. This article outlines how the principles of a Lean Startup methodology, an approach that focuses on gradual growth using validated learning, can be utilized to build financially sustainable anchor collaboratives and identify the most effective strategies for local purchasing. The article provides an overview the Philadelphia local purchasing landscape, defines the Lean Startup methodology and looks at the application of the methodology through the lens of Philadelphia’s local purchasing collaborative, Philadelphia Anchors for Growth and Equity at the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia. The goal of this article is to share a strategic planning framework that could be useful in creating effective local purchasing collaboratives.

Author Biography

Mariya Khandros, Economy League of Greater Philadelphia

Director of Shared Solutions
1800 JFK Boulevard
Suite 460
Philadelphia, PA 19103
215-875-1000 x 116

Mariya Khandros is the Director of Shared Solutions at the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia. She wrote the strategic plan to create Philadelphia’s anchor purchasing collaborative, Philadelphia Anchors for Growth and Equity, and currently oversees its implementation.


Andes, S., Hachadorian, J. Katz, B., Vey, J.S. (2017, May). Connect to compete: How the University City-Center City innovation district can help Philadelphia excel globally and serve locally. Retrieved from

City of Philadelphia Office of Economic Opportunity. (2017). Annual disparity study. Retrieved from

The Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania. The Philadelphia Area Collegiate Cooperative. Retrieved from

Blank, S. (2013). Why the lean start-up changes everything. Harvard business review, 91(5), 63-72.

The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia. Supplier Network Series. Retrieved from

Chicago Anchors for a Strong Economy. (2016). 2016: A Year in Review. Retrieved from

Jones, Janelle. (2017, February 13). The racial wealth gap: How African-Americans have been shortchanged out of the materials to build wealth. Economic Policy Institute. Retrieved from

Khandros, Mariya. (2018, April 24). Anchor procurement initiative: A cross-sector approach to business growth and job creation. Retrieved from

Kim Burnett Consulting. (2013). Advancing local anchor procurement strategies: Early findings and next steps for the field. Retrieved from

Mott, Amanda. (2013, October 25). Penn IUR and Executive Vice President host power of eds and meds panel discussion. Retrieved from

Office of the Philadelphia City Controller (2014, January). Survey of the current and potential impact of local procurement by Philadelphia anchor institutions. Retrieved from

Office of the Controller. (2015, April). Anchoring our local economy: Developing a local procurement strategy for Philadelphia’s higher education and healthcare institutions. Retrieved from

Patten, Eileen. (2016, July 1). Racial, gender wage gaps persist in U.S. despite some progress. Retrieved from:

The Pew Charitable Trust. (2017). Philadelphia 2017: The State of the City. Retrieved from

Ries, Eric. (2011, September 13). The lean startup: How today's entrepreneurs use continuous innovation to create radically successful businesses. New York, NY: Crown Business.

Romero, L. (2016, April 27). Report: Philly’s Poverty Problem Isn’t Going Away. Retrieved from:

Sapatkin, Don. (2016, May 9). South Philly center combines health, literacy, recreation.. Retrieved from:

Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia. (2011). Taking care of business: Improving Philadelphia’s small business climate. Retrieved from

Uzialko, A. (2016, May 15). The State of Small Business: Pennsylvania. Business News Daily. Retrieved from