At Ventures, we know that small business ownership can change lives. This is truer than ever, and in the past several years we have expanded our programming significantly in response to ever-growing demand for high-quality training, coaching, and capital.
In 2018, we are going to take this one step farther by expanding our impact beyond traditional small business programs and developing the capacity to achieve systemic change. Low-income entrepreneurs continue to face unique challenges, and thanks to other visionary leaders like The People’s Institute Northwest, 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.
Microbusinesses, especially those started by individuals with low incomes, face an uphill climb on the road to small business ownership. Costs such as health permits, B&O taxes, and other minor investments that might seem insignificant to corporations force our clients to make tough choices in their personal lives. And our business owners are often cobbling together income from several sources including hourly-wage jobs, government programs, and other sources.
Did you know, for example, that it currently costs an aspiring food truck owner $1,070 to get an operating license from King County Public Health and an additional $380 for a one-day vending license each time they want to park on the street and sell products? For members of the Ventures community, who earn an average of $23,000 per year and often do not have the credit or collateral for big start-up loans, these costs are huge barriers to opening food businesses.
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. 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, learn about our upcoming meetings and workshops, and join the conversation by following us on Facebook or Twitter, subscribing to our email list, or sending an email to Will at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Advocacy Idea.” We look forward to hearing from you!