In 2021, Ventures’ Board of Directors and staff team accomplished a bold task: the development of a Five Year Strategic Framework for the years 2022 – 2026. This marks the first strategic framework to cover such an extensive time duration since Beto Yarce became the non-profit’s Executive Director in 2014. The new plan is ambitious, visionary, and committed to powerfully amplifying the impact of our mission: to empower aspiring entrepreneurs with limited resources and unlimited potential. To develop this framework, we engaged in a 6-month visioning and planning process to identify strategic priorities which will guide Ventures’ work for the next five years.
This effort included the development of a Board Strategic Planning Group, a staff planning retreat, a board planning retreat, and a comprehensive community stakeholder engagement process to collect feedback from clients, funders, and community partners. The wisdom harvested from these engagements, surveys, and dialogues has allowed us to identify the following six strategic priorities:
Creating a Client-Led Model: Our client engagement is equitable, asset-based, community-centric, emphasizes clients’ leadership capacity, and offers ongoing involvement and co-creation opportunities.
Reaching Financial Sustainability: We establish and maintain diverse funding sources that allow the organization to be more flexible on its evolution.
Building A Culture of Empowerment: Our staff, board, and clients work collectively to foster a culture of empowerment within the organization and across its programs.
Offering High-Quality Programs & Services: Our services, including training, capital, coaching, incubation, access to markets, and other programs, have a measurable impact on entrepreneurs and the community. Furthermore, we’ll explore strategic opportunities to grow and expand our services to other regions in Washington.
An Ongoing Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Work: Our DEI work is reflected in the diversity represented across the staff, board, and clients, its growing offerings for communities systematically impacted by inequity, and through transparent and equitable decision-making processes.
Adopting Effective & Adaptive Practices: We approach its work with adaptability and prioritize lean practices, staff retention, sustaining a flexible hybrid work model, and the adoption of technology to support our work and clients.
It is intended that each of the above strategies will be implemented to strengthen Ventures, allowing more effective strategies to emerge and transform our organization, entrepreneurs and the communities we serve.
We believe these strategic priorities will help us to better serve our diverse clients – women, BIPOC, immigrants, refugees, the LGBTQIA+ community, people with disabilities and others who have been historically marginalized; as well as the broader community. As we begin to implement this strategic framework, our commitment to our clients and community is that we will approach this work with integrity, enthusiasm, humility, and by continuously seeking to learn and improve.
Click here for the Ventures’ complete 2022-2026 Five Year Strategic Framework & Priorities
We are deeply thankful for the feedback we received from our clients and community partners. They have reminded us of our strengths and helped us to identify our most pressing opportunities for improvement. We are also very appreciative of the thoughtful planning from staff and our Board of Directors. Their hard work and vision have allowed us to arrive at this critical point––we are ready for the next five years.
How did Ventures arrive at this exciting point?
Ventures’ path to achieving the requisite stability and resources to create and launch our new, trailblazing strategic framework required hard work, passion and courage on the part of Ventures’ Board members, its management team and staff over a seven year time span. When Beto Yarce was appointed Executive Director in 2014, he served as our first executive of color, and immediately faced the daunting task of leading an organization with a $400,000 deficit budget. Beto set about addressing some of these challenges with dynamic organizational and marketing rebranding campaigns that inspired new energy, insights, resources and opportunities to Ventures, formerly Washington Community Alliance for Self-Help (CASH).
During the following year, Ventures’ Board and management team collaborated to balance the budget and create a two year strategic plan for 2016-2017 under Beto’s leadership. This plan envisioned establishing an ongoing balanced budget, further stabilizing and growing the organization in terms of fundraising and programmatic offerings, and demonstrating Ventures’ long-term sustainability – all successfully achieved! During this period, Ventures held InnoVentures for the first time (our premier pitch contest and fundraising annual event), began charting out its Advocacy program, expanded capital products offerings, strengthened its capacity for data analytics and introduced other innovations. The Board and management team partnered again to develop another two year strategic plan for 2018-2020. Over this period, contributed income streams became increasingly more diverse and substantive, Ventures Marketplace yielded higher-than-ever sales revenues, and programs grew more robust. This second two-year plan brought about significant gains in Ventures’ programmatic, operations and fundraising capacities. As hoped, an even stronger foundation for Ventures had been achieved, prior to establishing a lengthier, highly ambitious road-map for Ventures’ future.
When 2020 started, Ventures was planning on embarking upon its much-anticipated five year strategic planning process, but the heretofore unthinkable occurred with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. This health crisis and the economic downturn it catalyzed required that Ventures undertake major pivots in response to the historic challenges faced by small business owners during the pandemic. The Board and management team quickly collaborated on a one year COVID recovery plan for 2021. This work included distributing over $1 million in direct grants to small business owners at risk of closing because of COVID and social distancing regulations. Remarkably, the enactment of this plan allowed Ventures – and many of the entrepreneur clients we serve — to withstand the pandemic’s challenges, and emerge stronger than ever. As 2022 kicks off, we are now well-prepared and excited to debut our new five year strategic framework!
Written by: Celia Weisman (Ventures)