At Filene Research Institute, we believe in the power of collaboration and community to foster economic growth and empowerment. However, we've recognized a critical gap between credit unions and underserved entrepreneurs, hindering the potential for sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystems. To address this, we've developed an innovative solution: the Entrepreneurial Ecosystems Incubator.
Why did we launch this incubator?
The landscape of entrepreneurship in the United States is vibrant, with 19% of adults engaged in business founding or ventures in recent years. However, starting a business has faced increased challenges, with fewer individuals perceiving it as easier in recent times. Additionally, entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds, including people of color and women, encounter significant obstacles due to issues of trust, comfort, and bias.
Credit unions, while scoring high in member satisfaction, have room to enhance their support for small businesses. Despite their potential, they often lag in the actual share of loans held by these entrepreneurs.
Our solution: The Entrepreneurial Ecosystems Incubator
In collaboration with Bridge for Billions, we've crafted a structured learning journey that unites credit unions and entrepreneurs. This unique initiative leverages the Bridge for Billions platform to support a cohort of entrepreneurs, equipping them with tools and resources for success. Simultaneously, credit union leaders engage in a parallel learning journey, collaborating within a network of experts and each other.
This program aims to provide credit unions with a holistic perspective on their role in entrepreneurial ecosystems, emphasizing partnership and collective success.
Benefits for credit unions
Participating credit unions gain profound insights into entrepreneurial ecosystems and their potential. Key benefits include:
- Exchange of insights and best practices among credit union leaders
- Simplified management of entrepreneurs through Bridge for Billions' platform
- Strategies to effectively engage with entrepreneurs
- Increased membership, utilization of financial products and growth in loan portfolios
Moreover, funding from the Kauffman Foundation allows us to offer subsidized pricing for credit unions, making this an economical yet impactful opportunity to enhance community impact and innovation strategies.
Action items for participating credit unions
To make the most of this incubator, credit unions are encouraged to:
- Designate a project manager
- Actively participate in the 6-month program
- Assist in recruiting local entrepreneurs and small business owners
- Attend monthly check-ins to share updates and hear from industry experts
- Allocate time for internal strategic planning
- Provide qualitative feedback through surveys and interviews
How the test works
With the participation of six credit unions, the program spans six months, focusing on supporting entrepreneurship through 1:1 mentoring and an online platform, and facilitating a cohort learning journey with credit union leaders. Data will be collected through interviews, surveys, and impact assessments to drive insights and continual improvement.
Join us today
Ready to embark on a transformative journey to strengthen your credit union's community impact and innovation strategies? Complete the interest form linked here and let’s unlock opportunities and build thriving entrepreneurial communities together.