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create / 2018

Supporting the entrepreneurs who create a vibrant Los Angeles

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Activation Challenge by Small Business Majority

This project will provide LA’s entrepreneurs with education and resources to start and grow their own businesses, helping them revitalize their communities and create new local opportunities.

Please describe the activation your organization seeks to launch.

With a focus on reaching and supporting women and minority entrepreneurs in Los Angeles County, we will provide education and resources that small business owners need to launch and run a successful business. Small businesses are anchors of their communities. As they grow, they create local jobs and opportunities, contributing to vibrant and sustainable local economies.

Which of the create metrics will your activation impact?​

  • Minority- and women-owned firms

Will your proposal impact any other LA2050 goal categories?

  • LA is the healthiest place to LIVE

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • San Gabriel Valley
  • San Fernando Valley
  • South LA
  • Westside
  • County of Los Angeles
  • City of Los Angeles

How will your activation mobilize Angelenos?

  • Trainings and/or in-person engagements

Describe in greater detail how your activation will make LA the best place to create?

Entrepreneurs are a crucial component of a vibrant and thriving California; they employ nearly half the private sector workforce and create two-thirds of all new jobs. As anchors of their communities, they create opportunity in disadvantaged communities, strengthen local economies and revitalize neighborhoods. They are critical partners in the work to reduce inequality and expand opportunity for all.

To make LA the best place to create, we will support local entrepreneurs through our Entrepreneurship Program, which delivers education and resources that small business owners need to launch and run a successful business. Focused on supporting women, minority and other underserved entrepreneurs, the program has quickly expanded throughout the LA area, accompanied by national webinars and educational websites. The program includes seminars and resources in English and Spanish on topics such as access to capital, healthcare, retirement security and asset-building.

Key elements include:

  • Access to capital: One of the biggest challenges facing entrepreneurs and small business owners continues to be the inability to access credit and capital. We provide education on how to find responsible lenders, avoid predatory lending traps, improve a credit score and access capital through non-traditional methods like crowdfunding. This education is particularly important for women and minority entrepreneurs, who are more likely to be denied a traditional loan than their white male counterparts.

  • Access to healthcare: We believe that every person has the right to quality, affordable and equitable healthcare. We help small employers explore their options to access affordable healthcare coverage for themselves and their employees.

  • Women entrepreneurs: Despite many gains, gender inequality continues to heavily impact women entrepreneurs. LA is the pilot city for our new Women’s Entrepreneurship program, specifically designed to educate women business owners about their networking, mentorship and procurement options. We educate women on obtaining certification as a woman-owned business, resources to meet their childcare needs and accessing the capital necessary to start and grow their businesses.

  • This online platform provides education and resources for small business owners seeking loans, while also offering more in-depth resources such as business planning and financial management tools. We are expanding this platform to LA, engaging partner organizations to share its resources, and developing a feature to connect entrepreneurs with local, in-person support to help them grow their businesses and create good jobs in their communities.

  • Ecosystem mapping: A small business ecosystem comprises the local organizations that offer low- or no-cost assistance to small businesses. Our in-depth mapping of LA-area lenders and business assistance organizations allows us to easily refer small business owners to trusted partners for in-person assistance.

How will your activation engage Angelenos to make LA the best place to create

This activation will engage current and aspiring LA entrepreneurs and the organizations supporting them through free educational events, our Venturize platform, and traditional and social media campaigns. Although we support all small business owners, we specifically target financially and geographically underserved Angelenos, who are more likely to face additional challenges in accessing the resources they need to thrive. We have 12 years of experience reaching underserved small business owners, and we partner with organizations that serve them, including minority chambers of commerce, community groups and women’s business associations.

For this project, we will host events in English and Spanish across LA County, with a focus on East and South LA, Boyle Heights and Van Nuys. Events will explore important issues like access to capital, healthcare and other topics that help small firms grow and create quality jobs. We will invite representatives from partner organizations to co-present, connect attendees with representatives directly and provide referrals to trusted organizations for further assistance. We will provide partners an opportunity to co-brand Venturize and share it with their members, and we will distribute educational materials to our network and our partners’ networks. Our communications team will launch traditional and social media campaigns designed to promote our events and the other resources available to support entrepreneurs creating a vibrant LA.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your activation.​

We define success as entrepreneurs and small business owners receiving the education and resources they need to start and grow their businesses and to create good jobs for their employees. Through our events, media outreach, network and partners’ networks, we expect to reach at least 20,000 Angelenos over the next two years.

We measure our progress by tracking educational event dates, locations, co-sponsors and attendance numbers and demographics. We survey event attendees to assess increased knowledge, and we follow up to determine whether they were able to apply this information successfully (e.g. receiving a loan) or whether they need further education and resources. We also track how many entrepreneurs access our online resources. When our online referral system is completed, we will assess how many people use it to connect with local lenders and business assistance providers.

We expand our reach through partnerships with groups like small business organizations, business assistance providers, responsible lending institutions and other groups that help small employers grow and create good jobs. We track how many partners co-host events with us or distribute our materials to their memberships. As the Venturize platform expands to LA, we will examine how our partners use this technology and its resources to enhance their ability to serve their small business networks.

Where do you hope this activation or your organization will be in five years?

To date, we have reached more than 250,000 entrepreneurs through direct educational outreach, our online Entrepreneurship Program resource portal, and our social media and partner channels. Over the next five years, we will deepen our reach in the LA area and expand our resources and services nationwide, continually refining and revising our work to best support the thriving small business ecosystem that is central to a dynamic and inclusive economy.

Specifically, we plan to grow in the following areas:

  1. Venturize: Bringing Venturize to LA is the first step in our build out of this platform. We are currently bolstering the Resources section of the site to include more in-depth assistance tools for entrepreneurs, including business plan and financial statement templates, marketing and business development tools and resources, procurement and licensing advice for minority and women business owners, and other expert advice from our partners. We also are developing a user-friendly referral service and engaging partners to use the site’s resources with their own clients. Over the next five years, we expect to continue refining this platform and expanding it to serve entrepreneurs nationwide.

  2. Minority entrepreneurship: While our work already targets entrepreneurs in underserved communities, we are increasing our focus on assisting minority small business owners and entrepreneurs. In particular, we are expanding our Spanish-language outreach, including translating our educational presentations and materials into Spanish, sharing our existing resources with organizations that serve Spanish-speaking audiences and developing Spanish-language videos and Facebook Live events for wider distribution. We are also translating portions of our Entrepreneurship Program offerings into Mandarin, Cantonese and Korean.

  3. Women’s entrepreneurship: Women’s business ownership has stagnated at 30% for decades and women business owners lag their male counterparts in the crucial business indicators of revenue, number of employees and funding. To address this issue, we recently launched our Women’s Entrepreneurship pilot project in LA. We plan to expand this project nationwide within the next two years.

  4. Expanded geographical reach: Our current work is focused on eight metropolitan areas nationwide, including Los Angeles, where we have offices and staff on the ground. Our goal is to expand our reach into additional geographic areas where there is significant need for our education and resources.

  5. Community portal: A long-term goal for our online Entrepreneurship Program portal is to incorporate a community feature that can facilitate peer-to-peer connections and offer expanded news and information. This will boost small business owner engagement, foster strengthened relationships among small business owners, and develop peer-to-peer mentorship opportunities going forward.

  6. Expanded products and services: We are exploring the development of project-based advisory or consulting services that can help larger organizations better understand, serve and support small businesses.

Over the next five years, we will use these strategies, among others, to continue building and strengthening the community of small business owners in LA and nationwide.