GUEST COMMENTARY By April Boyle
What makes a great entrepreneur? It’s passion for an idea,the willingness to pursue a dream, and a wish for personal, professional and financial freedom. Every day at Build Institute we see this entrepreneurial spirit in action, and a drive for success in people from all walks of life, from all corners of Southeast Michigan. But these aspiring small business owners need education,resources and tools that can be hard to come by.
Six years ago,we founded Build Institute to serve Detroit entrepreneurs and provide a path to these resources. We work to help grow small businesses and champion talented people living in communities city-wide. We want to shift the assumption that small business success must be big and immediate; that taking risk outside of tech is bad; and that investing in women or people of color comes with a lower return on investment.
Build Institute has led hundreds of programs, served nearly 1,500 entrepreneurs and has an annual growth in enrollment of 25 percent. And impact extends beyond individual businesses – the vibrant Build Institute community is improving our economy as a whole.Considerthe last six years alone:
- 500 new businesses launched
- 1,000 new jobs created
- Entrepreneurs served across 140 zip codes
- 14,000 people per month served through Build alumni businesses, products and services
- $24 in wages added to regional economy for every $1 invested in a Build entrepreneur
- $39 in business profit for every $1 invested in a Build course
In 2016, Bank of America made a $200,000 philanthropic investment in Build Institute through its Neighborhood Builders program, which enables nonprofits to partner directly with the bank to help improve economic mobility for individuals and families. Each Neighborhood Builders award also includes a year of leadership training for the nonprofit’s Executive Director and an Emerging Leader.
This was game changing for us, as grants for unrestricted general operating expenses like this from companies like Bank of America give us the autonomy and flexibility to invest in programs and staff quickly and efficiently, and in rapid response to community need.
Specifically, the Neighborhood Builders grant enabled Build Institute to partner with KIVA – one of the largest and most respected crowdfunding arms in the world – to launch $25,000 in matching funds for Build’s KIVA loan recipients, maximizing the impact of their critical start-up funding. We were also able to add to our own staff capacity, and have since reached more entrepreneurs via Build Basics courses, Build Bazaar pop-up markets and other community events.
More specifically, we saw Rebel Cycle Studio launch this fall, located inside the recently renovated Detroit City Fieldhouse in downtown Detroit. Founder Amy Latawiece is a cycling instructor, certified by both the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America and Schwinn, and has been inspired to help others in part after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2012.Another recent Build grad is Folk, an artisanal café in Corktown that specializes in seasonal, made-from-scratch comfort food that is also healthful and sourced locally. Folk launched earlier in 2018 and is one of the most popular destinations in our neighborhood.
Investments like this from Bank of America’s Neighborhood Builders program help make dreams come true for Detroit’s aspiring entrepreneurs, who in turn make stronger and more vibrant communities we can all be proud to call home. Perhaps other corporations, associations and families will find inspiration with all of our region’s local entrepreneurs, and consider shopping local and supporting organizations like Build Institute.