At Ventures, we know that small business ownership can change lives. In an increasingly unequal economy, this is more true than ever — and in the past several years, we have expanded our programming significantly in response to growing demand for high-quality training, coaching, and access to capital.
In 2018, we are taking our commitment one step farther by expanding our impact beyond traditional coaching and training programs and building capacity to achieve systemic change. Low-income entrepreneurs continue to face unique challenges, and thanks to other visionary leaders like The People’s Economy Lab, NALCAB, the Association for Enterprise Opportunity, the GSBA, and Stand for Your Mission, we have learned that we can work to address these challenges together.
That is why Ventures is expanding to include the vital service of public policy advocacy to our suite of services for the community. Our goal is to drive systemic change by educating our community, developing a set of policy priorities, and lobbying government agencies and lawmakers to support public policies that help low-income entrepreneurs thrive. We are organizing our community for change – and after we complete a comprehensive stakeholder engagement process, we will release our first-ever policy agenda in fall 2018!
Although microbusiness offers a viable pathway out of poverty for many, underserved communities face unique barriers to small business development. Costs such as permits, taxes, and other minor investments that might seem insignificant to corporations force Ventures entrepreneurs to make tough choices in their personal lives. This is compounded by many other racial and socioeconomic barriers to entrepreneurship which we will tackle head-on through our advocacy work.
Ventures wants to support and create new policies that make it easier for individuals and families from underserved communities to succeed as small business owners. Stable, long-term employment with competitive pay and benefits is becoming less and less common in today’s labor market, while low-wage service work and temporary employment in the “gig economy” are on the rise. People in historically marginalized communities are trapped in low-wage jobs, generational poverty, and financial instability. We see microbusiness as a way to build a stronger, more inclusive economy, and we want to leverage Ventures’ experience and expertise to give our entrepreneurs a seat at the table.
To help achieve this goal, Ventures recently hired Will von Geldern as our Director of Advocacy and Communications with the generous support of the Satterberg Foundation. In the first half of 2018, we are spending time listening to ideas and concerns from our community of entrepreneurs, community partners, and other supporters in order develop a policy agenda that reflects the needs of our clients and outlines a clear set of priorities for the next two years. We will also begin to advocate on issues that we know affect our clients right now.
Do you have an idea or a question about our advocacy program? If so, we would love to hear from you! Tell us what laws or policies you would like changed and learn about our upcoming meetings and workshops by joining our advocacy email list.