2022 Grants Challenge

Developing Women and BIPOC Businesses Navigators

The success of women and BIPOC owned small businesses is essential for an equitable Los Angeles economy yet many of these businesses struggle to grow. To change this dynamic, new support systems must be deployed by trusted community partners, who may not be able to develop an effective business coaching initiative. Our use of funds will help create a small business navigator handbook and a Community Organization Playbook for establishing small business training and mentorship.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

BIPOC- and Women-Owned Businesses

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

South Bay

County of Los Angeles

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

The problem we are addressing is the lack of resources to help women and BIPOC small businesses, many of whom are struggling with the effectives of the pandemic. In wealthier communities these resources are readily available. As demonstrated by the inequitable distribution of PPP loans, the negative impacts and lack of support were especially critical for BIPOC entrepreneurs. A McKenzie & Company report stated: “Of all vulnerable small businesses, minority-owned ones may be most at risk. Ensuring that these businesses survive in the current circumstances will require fundamental shifts in how private, public, and social-sector organizations come together to support them.” While BIPOC and women entrepreneurs make up the largest population of start-ups today, these businesses tend to generate less revenue, employ fewer people, and stay small. It is critical to expand support for women and BIPOC small business owners to reduce the wealth gap.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

This grant funds scaling of the core element of our existing program that provides personalized business coaching to women and BIPOC entrepreneurs. In our 4 years working with small businesses, we found that personalized coaching from a trusted source (business navigators) was highly effective. These sessions provide business training, encouragement, and accountability in a series of ongoing interactions (twice monthly for 3 or 6 months). Participants report achieving results that would not have been possible without this resource. Providing personalized support requires trained coaches with business acumen background combined with cultural competency and a high level of caring. Many quality business coaches exist but the cost ($100- $250+ per hour) is out of reach for the small business owners we work with. Our solution is to develop a program to train and certify people to become effective business navigators and to provide this methodology to other community organizations who want to train navigators for their programs. We will accomplish this by developing 1) a curriculum to train and certify navigators, 2) a handbook with best practices for navigation, and 3) a playbook for community organizations to build navigator programs.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

In the long term, Los Angeles County, having a major concentration of small business, will be a more equitable and more resilient economy with ownership and wealth accruing to a diverse population. By developing more robust support and resources available for small businesses, especially in BIPOC communities, more people can successfully launch and grow small businesses, lifting the overall quality of life In the short term (1 year) we envision 2 additional community-based organizations working in under-resourced communities, successfully delivering high quality support for small businesses. By adopting the navigator program many of the barriers and inefficiencies to developing these types of programs can be overcome. We will initially assist 100+ small business owners accelerate revenue growth and help create a generational wealth transfer opportunity. Additionally, this cost-effective program will then be available for use across LA county.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

Providing business mentorship or coaching is a best practice for small business support programs. In addition to numerous research reports that discuss the success of this tactic, our anecdotal research with the entrepreneurs in our programs shows that this tactic increases revenue and job creation and adds to the capacity of the business owner to drive business growth and sustainability. The funding for the proposed initiative will go toward improving and scaling the core feature of our work, mentorship. We will document the methods to provide navigation, develop the training methods for navigators, and create a playbook for other organizations to use to deploy a similar program. Additionally, 7 navigators will be trained using these methods and work with participants in our existing programs. The impact on the individual business is measured through revenue growth and jobs created or retained.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 7

Indirect Impact: 200