FUND 17

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!

Alejandra Guzman

Writer/Escritora 

Economic Development/Desarrollo Economico

@aleguzman

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Publisher's Note

I moved to the United States almost 20 years ago, and as a sports fan, I couldn't stand the fact that I did not understand how American football worked.

It was impossible not to get infected by the passion and the love New Orleanians have for the boys in the Black and Gold, so I made it a point to learn the basics and join the fun of watching the beloved Saints play.

I was lucky to suffer with a weak team only for a few years, and I was fortunate to be part of the WHO DAT Nation when they made it to the Super Bowl in Miami.

Even though the Super Bowl we wished for this year did not happen, our team gave us a great season, and off the field, many Saints players are doing so much for this community through their foundations and giving back some love to their fan base. Today, The Saints continue to be an essential driving force of our community.

It is amazing what passion and pride can do for the city of New Orleans. The Saints gave us an incredible season! I know we’ve had a few weeks of coping, and many people have decided to party away from television sets the night of the championship game, but I still want to thank the New Orleans Saints for all the joy they gave us this last season.

Like most of you, I'm always proud to yell out loud WHO DAT!

AnaMaria