2020 Grants Challenge

Entrepreneurship Advantage (EA): Systematizing human, technical, and capital resources for Los Angeles entrepreneurs

EA connects under-resourced entrepreneurs with resources they need to grow thriving businesses that provide income for entrepreneurs, their families, and communities. Having done initial work on identifying, vetting and compiling LA’s regional resources (microloans, technical assistance, and education), the current project will intensify and expand our efforts; we will accelerate the distribution of resources and growth of our membership, ultimately strengthening the entrepreneurial ecosystem that allows LA-based entrepreneurs to thrive.


In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

Central LA

East LA

San Gabriel Valley

San Fernando Valley

South LA


South Bay

Antelope Valley

County of Los Angeles

City of Los Angeles

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Pilot project or new program

Please list the organizations collaborating on this proposal.

California Association of Microenterprise Organizations

Opportunity Fund

Local Initiatives Support Corporation - Los Angeles (LISC LA)

Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC)

CDC Small Business Finance Los Angeles

Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment (PACE LA)

West Angeles Community Development Corporation (West LA CDC)

Small Business Development Center (SBDC)

El Camino

If you are submitting a collaborative proposal, please describe the specific role of partner organizations in the project.

CAMEO, the fiscal sponsor for Entrepreneurship Advantage has been in operation for over 25 years. CAMEO will leverage their experience creating entrepreneurial ecosystems, building the capacity of nonprofits and advocating for small business owners to ensure that Entrepreneurship Advantage continues to make a sustainable impact in their community. In addition, Entrepreneurship Advantage will work with CAMEO to raise funding and develop income generating activities.

Partner organizations participating in the Steering Committee will provide guidance to EA and will share their knowledge and expertise on the ground to better connect more resources to more small businesses in LA County.

What is the need you’re responding to?

Entrepreneurship is a pathway to economic mobility for many minorities, immigrants and women. Yet 50% of small businesses fail (SBA) since they can’t access capital/support necessary to build sustainable enterprises.

LA has many resources to overcome these barriers, but these programs are not fully utilized. According to our research of EA stakeholders in 2019, many organizations, including banks, don't understand the range of services, programs, and products available for clients that don’t qualify.

Due to “referral barriers”, the opportunity is lost to develop clients for traditional banking. Meanwhile, clients are at-risk to high-cost predatory loans which can charge APRs up to 94%, trapping entrepreneurs in a cycle of debt they can never repay (Opportunity Fund, 2016)

As a result, EA was formed to make it easier for LA entrepreneurs to connect with the right resources by developing resource guides, training for business-service organizations, and a web-based matching tool.

Why is this project important to the work of your organization?​

EA is uniquely suited to tackle this information gap because of its community-informed approach and its growing support from LA’s small-business community. Founded in March 2018 by Opportunity Fund and CDC Small Business Finance, EA formed a collaboration with members from government agencies, nonprofits and banks with assistance from CAMEO. After conducting surveys and focus groups with entrepreneurs and small-business stakeholders, EA finalized a strategic plan in the spring of 2019 that addressed the need for connection among LA's business ecosystem.

Since then, we have: 1) grown our collaboration to 30+ participating members, (includes influential stakeholders such as the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, Small Business Majority,); 2) completed a preliminary set of tools to improve referrals in LA, and 3) have hosted two convenings that connected over 50 organizations and received a 100% satisfaction rating on the information and resources provided through the events.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this proposal?​

Direct Impact: 250

Indirect Impact: 5,500

Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.

Approaches to entrepreneurial support are often presented in narrow silos and EA’s efforts reflect a shift to a more holistic ecosystemic view. A robust local entrepreneurial ecosystem is made up of 5 Cs: Coaching, Capital, Connections, Climate, and Culture. When these pieces are all in place, small businesses can succeed and create a sustainable and thriving local economy.

This collaborative initiative will provide a robust ecosystem, expanded outreach and a single point of access. EA will efficiently enhance existing services, providing entrepreneurs seamless access to the wealth of LA County’s capital, human and technical resources at the right time on their business journey.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.

Our vision for success is that every LA entrepreneur can access resources to grow their small business and secure a better future for their family and community. To achieve that vision, EA has outlined the following strategic goals:

1. Help entrepreneurs connect with the right resources: identify resources, provide a web tool that matches financing, resources and networks, offer a calendar of business training and events, and develop resource guides. Success: Develop a website that connects entrepreneurs and shares resources.

2. Communicate the availability of these resources by executing a branding strategy, launching a website, marketing through social media, networking and community outreach, and presenting resource workshops to business owners.Success: Develop and execute a branding strategy. Develop three presentations for business owners that can be executed by any collaboration member.

3. Improve the referral network through networking events, coordination with financial institutions, chambers of commerce, SBA, cities and other government agencies, and building capacity of the network to refer effectively. Success: Hold four networking events. Bring five bank partners, five chambers, and five city/government agencies into the referral network.

4. Build an effective and efficient collaborative by raising funds and operationalizing collaborative processes. Success: Hire a full-time staff member to ensure the collaborative’s effectiveness.

Which of the CREATE metrics will your submission impact?​

Income inequality

Minority- and women-owned businesses

Access to banks and financial institutions

Are there any other LA2050 goal categories that your proposal will impact?​

LA is the best place to CONNECT

Which of LA2050’s resources will be of the most value to you?​

Access to the LA2050 community

Communications support

Office space for meetings, events, or for staff

Capacity, including staff