Supporting Economic Mobility in New Orleans
By Alejandra Guzmán
Click aqui para español -> FUND 17
Social entrepreneurs pursue social innovation and transformation in different fields such as education, health, environment, and business development. A common factor among them is the pursuit of poverty alleviation and economic mobility through business methods and by the application of innovating alternative solutions in traditional practices.
As an Economic Developer that believes in equity as a growth strategy and the power of social entrepreneurs, I'm glad that New Orleans is home to organizations promoting these concepts. One of my favorite organizations in this field is Fund 17. Fund 17 is a small, but growing 501c3 non-profit with the goal of turning hustles into livelihoods in the 17 wards of New Orleans.
To get a sense of their relevance, consider that some of the most common barriers for small businesses to scale are lack of access to adequate information, capital, and basic business skills. Fund 17 addresses all of these issues.
The organization provides free training and resources to entrepreneurial community members including one-on-one business development support, workshops, and loan advising. Founded in 2012 as a student-run non-profit, they have grown into a diverse and robust community of entrepreneurs, partners, professionals and students dedicated to creating economic opportunity for all.
The organization has reached more than 200 entrepreneurs who otherwise would not have been served by any traditional organizations in New Orleans. Fund 17 targets the under-served neighborhoods and communities that have the greatest need of finding pathways to economic advancement. Fund 17 has received financial and professional support from international organizations such as KIVA and the Kellogg Foundation. Most recently they were awarded the Next 300 Competition grant by the City of New Orleans.
All of this is a testament to the excellent work that Fund 17 has been doing, and the great potential it has to continue influencing the upward economic mobility of our communities. This year, the organization is in the process of designing a community business incubator that will offer affordable space, equipment, and computers to entrepreneurs. It will also include a food business co-op to facilitate the scaling of businesses in this industry.
This strategy is truly necessary to strengthen neighborhoods that have not benefited from New Orleans overall economic success in the most recent years.
To learn more about Fund 17 and how to support them, visit www.fund17.org. Until next time!