Entrepreneurship in the United States is changing pretty dramatically – in ways that many of us have failed to notice or understand. Specifically today’s American entrepreneurs are more likely to be female and non-white. In fact, the number of women-owned businesses has increased 31 times between 1972 and 2018 according to the Kauffman Foundation (in 1972, women-owned businesses accounted for just 4.6% of all firms; in 2018 that figure was 40%). Meanwhile, the fastest-growing group female entrepreneurs are women of color, who are responsible for 64% of the new women-owned businesses being created. There’s a lot more to dig into here, which I’ll do in future posts. But it’s urgent that we begin to understand this because we’re failing to build systems to support these new entrepreneurs. This has become especially clear in the current economic crisis, as I pointed out in this piece I wrote with Elizabeth Macbride a few weeks ago for CNBC as well as this post from last week. Relief money authorized by congress under various programs of the CARES Act and other initiatives is failing to reach many women and minority owned businesses and is highlighting structural issues with the way we support entrepreneurs in the United States. For example, it has been widely documented that women and minority owned businesses are not accessing aid through the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) – see for example, here, here, here, here, here. This program requires businesses to have relationships with certain approved SBA lenders, which women and minority owned businesses are less likely to have. Its initial roll-out excluded certain types of financial institutions (most notably CDFIs) which disproportionately bank these businesses. It also left much of the underwriting criteria up to the banks themselves, who favored other customers. And the program itself – based on W2 payroll and primarily benefiting businesses that were in a position to open up quickly – failed to address the kinds of businesses most likely to be started by this new generation of entrepreneurs.
We can and must do better.
Which is why I’d like to highlight for you a great program called EforAll. Launched in 2013 with a mission of partnering with communities to help under-represented individuals successfully start and grow their businesses, EforAll is a pretty special organization. I’ve gotten to know them well over the past two years (Brad and his wife Amy, as well as Greeley and I are financial supporters of EforAll). EforAll combines immersive business training, mentorship and an extensive support network to help support their entrepreneurs. It’s incredibly compelling and urgently needed – now more than ever. EforAll is up and running in 9 communities in Massachusetts and Colorado and, to date, they’ve supported entrepreneurs in starting almost 350 businesses, 83% of which continue to be actively pursued by their founders. About a year ago we launched in Longmont and that program just graduated their first class (I attended the virtual demo day/graduation – it was inspiring).
We’ll be starting up another Longmont program this summer and are looking for mentors in Boulder and the Front Range (although potentially for this one anywhere – we anticipate much of this summer’s program will end up being virtual). This is a fantastic opportunity to help female, minority, and immigrant entrepreneurs pursue their business ideas.
A few stats:
– Over 500 ventures graduated
– Nearly $35M in capital raised
– Over $25M in 2019 revenue
– 9 businesses (11 entrepreneurs) went through first Longmont accelerator
– Those entrepreneurs were from the North Metro area, Boulder County, and Weld County
– Ventures in the first program ranged from gluten-free beer & pastries being made from ancient grains & traditional Peruvian recipes, to a financial literacy app for elementary school students, to a husband & wife duo manufacturing adaptive underwear for individuals with sensory disabilities
– Highlights from the first accelerator include an entrepreneur securing her first two grocery store clients for her plant-based meat product, an entrepreneur raising 40k from friends and family, and an entrepreneur launching their first online marketplace for disability-focused products
– EforAll Longmont was also mentioned in this href=”https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/07/your-money/entrepreneurship-philanthropy-gururaj-deshpande.html”>New York Times article, received support from Google, and worked with more than 50 volunteers during our first accelerator (including about 30 mentors)
EforAll Mentoring Ask – Mentoring with EforAll is a fantastic way to support small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs in your own background. Accelerator Mentors come from a variety of backgrounds and use their business and leadership experience to guide new entrepreneurs through the process of starting or growing a business. Mentors work in teams of three and are matched with an entrepreneur based on schedule availability and desire to work together. The team meets as a group to help reaffirm topics and themes raised during classes, while also strategizing with the entrepreneur on how to reach their specific goals during the program. Mentoring with EforAll is a 90-minute per-week commitment from July-September and all meetings between entrepreneurs and mentors will take place virtually. For more information, you can click here and you can also email EforAll Colorado Executive Director, Harris Rollinger, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also published on Medium.