The Start Here Initiative seeks to close the gap for women and minority entrepreneurs in access to capital.
The Initiative launched as a community-led endeavor in Little Rock, Arkansas in summer, 2016. The inaugural event called Start Here, Little Rock (SHLR) kicked off with a mission to engage more women, minorities and underrepresented segments of the community and increase access to entrepreneurial information, resources and training.
The program was a collaboration between the Start Here Initiative and the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service and the Arkansas Association of Black Professionals.
The vision of the Start Here Initiative is to improve the success of underrepresented entrepreneurs in raising capital. We seek to fulfill this vision by engaging these entrepreneurs and increasing access to information, resources and training.
We believe that by engaging underrepresented community groups, we bring more and better ideas and innovation to the forefront. By increasing access to the information, resources and training already available in the community, we strengthen the fabric of the entire community. The result of increased engagement and inclusion in the entrepreneurial process is greater diversity.
By creating a simple, replicable model, we believe that greater inclusion can be achieved in any entrepreneurial ecosystem, no matter how big or small the surrounding community.
A Focus on Outcomes
Start Here is not just another program on diversity. We believe the diversity of programs and resources in the community grows naturally as a result of engagement, inclusion and listening. Our two-fold goal is to raise awareness of the tools, resources and support for entrepreneurs that exists in our community and to increase engagement among women and minority entrepreneurs, thereby reducing the gap that currently exists in access to funding for underrepresented entrepreneurs.
In a growing economy and a vibrant startup community, it can be hard to know where to focus. That is why we launched Start Here. It is a call to our community. It is a starting place for increasing inclusion in the entrepreneurial process.
The First Step
In August of 2016, we launched the inaugural Start Here Little Rock gathering at the Ron Robinson Theater in downtown Little Rock. Nearly 100 community members, entrepreneurs and business leaders met to support the Initiative’s mission.
From this initial event, SHLR created a platform for greater engagement between the growing startup community and entrepreneurs from all backgrounds in Central Arkansas.
The Start Here Initiative is working to develop additional programming and events which will support the community in Little Rock and Central Arkansas.
The Initiative is also working with communities across the Mid-South to expand the mission by cities and towns to create more diverse engagement and inclusion in their entrepreneurial and small business development communities.
Bring Start Here to Your Community
Are you interested in hosting a Start Here event to your town or community? We would love to support you. Contact us to learn more.