Neighborhood Economics 2014 (Inaugural), Louisville, KY
We started with the idea of focusing on a neighborhood level economy, rather than a city level, and received positive feedback and deep engagement from over 200 attendees.
Neighborhood Economics 2015 Cincinnati, OH
Peter Block attended the inaugural event and loved it but challenged us to change our model; not just have an event but to let people meet, learn and potentially partner. Intentionally design the event so that it had a bigger impact a year later than it did that day.
We did that, and put on an event for 300 attendees, but also got $30K funding for six months for Derrick Braziel who leads MORTAR, the world class lean startup meets SBA accelerator to also function as a system entrepreneur / community quarterback for six months, to be the connective tissue to bring the economic ecosystem around entrepreneurship education and funding for marginalized communities (starting in the Over the Rhine neighborhood of Cincinnati).
That $30K investment catalyzed more than $4.6M in funding including a recent $450K from the Kauffman Foundation and $50K from the SBA. Derrick and the people in Cincinnati say without prompting, that we did MAKE it happen, but it would not have happened without us. We continue to work with Derrick and he speaks at all our events.
Having worked with Derrick and Rani Langer-Croager of Uptima Business Bootcamp, a similar accelerator for marginalized entrepreneurs which operates out of Impact Hubs in Oakland and SF, we determined that it was incredibly difficult for these entrepreneurs to find the right source of capital. They did not have the 25 friends with $25 that Kiva needed, and they could not get CDFI and other loans that needed three years of operations and a clean balance sheet.
These entrepreneurs needed friends and family funding, but with African-Americans having an average of $17.6K in family assets and Hispanics $20.7K compared to a white family’s average $171K (citation), they could not get the $20K to $30K the SBA says is needed to launch successfully. So, working with Self-Help Federal Credit Union, Impact Hub Oakland, and Uptima we created a product that did work. At 4% interest with the first 18-24 months requiring interest-only payments, these loans provide the early-stage patient capital needed for entrepreneurs to generate the cashflow necessary for repayment.
We presented The Runway Project Oakland (founded with Jessica Norwood of the Runway Project) at SOCAP and almost immediately secured the deposits needed for loan capital and the first of the philanthropic funds standing in as collateral. This pilot program has now financed five incredible Oakland-based entrepreneurs of color and is on its way to extending $300K+ in early-stage loan capital. The model is also in discussions to expand to several partners in other cities.
Neighborhood Economics System Entrepreneur Summit 2017 San Francisco, CA
A group of change makers working on wealth creation for marginalized communities met for a day and half, funded by the Kauffman Foundation and New Resource Bank. Monthly high energy conference calls, with follow-ups are ongoing, along with the creation of a Facebook Group and a Slack group. That group has created a pooled fund of funds with capacity for shared infrastructure across the network. The Kellogg Foundation and the Kauffman Foundation continue to be in conversation around funding these convenings and the network of people running accelerators and creating funds in cities from Cincinnati to New Orleans, Detroit, Jackson, MS, Seattle, Boston and Oakland, and more.