Which library-led entrepreneurship models best help low-income and/or underrepresented entrepreneurs start and grow small businesses? ALA’s Libraries Build Business, a national initiative supported by Google.org, is on a mission to find out in collaboration with a cohort of 13 libraries from 12 states offering services to local entrepreneurs in rural, tribal, urban, and suburban communities. Hear from the cohort to learn about preliminary results of our evaluation framework, promising practices, example programs of how libraries support economic resilience, and peer-to-peer learning. Learn how to secure a seat at the workforce development table in your community.
A panel of Libraries Build Business cohort members will share overviews of their projects, as well as how and why they started offering small business and entrepreneurship services and programs in their libraries. Libraries Build Business programs are geared toward aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners reflecting the makeup of local communities, including: Entrepreneurs of color Women Immigrants Tribal communities Veterans Returning citizens
Libraries Build Business programs are providing a variety of services, resources and models, including: Business incubators, co-working and maker spaces Classes and workshops such as Business 101, ESL, Web Design and Marketing, and Accounting Mentorship, one-to-one training with small business owners, entrepreneurs, and local partners Specialized equipment and technology Promotion and marketing assistance Research and reference assistance, including navigating legal and business licensures and requirements
Attendees will also learn about an evaluation framework and a Theory of Change to measure the impact and outcomes of the cohort’s programs. In collaboration with the cohort libraries, these resources were developed by the ALA team and their measurement and evaluation partner, Cicero Group. This framework includes metrics to measure economic recovery and resilience. Cohort members have all been trained on the evaluation framework, Theory of Change, and a suite of tools, including focus group protocols, interview and survey instruments, and reporting forms. These tools will be made widely available to the library field. These tools are integral to continuous improvement and assessing the needs of your local small business community. The evaluation framework materials will help libraries prioritize resources to best meet those needs and ensure that underrepresented groups are provided equitable opportunities in the small business space.
The audience will be invited to stay in touch with the cohort libraries and be on the lookout for resources and events in the future. Our findings are anticipated in early 2022, and our peer learning network will also began to expand to include new libraries interested in this work.
Participants will be able to use evaluation metrics and tools to prioritize resources that best serve local small businesses
Participants will be able to assess the needs of underrepresented and/or low-income small business owners and entrepreneurs
Participants will be able to describe promising programs and services for small businesses and entrepreneurs