President’s Message, First Quarter 2018:
Small businesses are the prime driver of new job creation. The Venture Jobs Foundation (VJF) invests in entrepreneurs to help them pursue their dreams, expanding small business ownership in challenged neighborhoods. The launch and growth of these locally owned enterprises fosters the creation of new, low and mid-skill jobs, stepping stones to building prosperity and dignity in underserved populations. All our investing programs support this core mission.
We work to bring flexible investment structures appropriate for small businesses. The VJF supports early stage companies needing microloans. We are working to launch a growth lending program to support somewhat larger capital needs of entrepreneurs early in the growth cycle and needing higher levels of funding for growth from a solid beginning. Our goal is to bring flexibility and availability of capital beyond that of traditional commercial lenders, structured to meet the unique needs of entrepreneurs building small businesses and new jobs in underserved communities.
We also provide technical support for entrepreneurs interested in launching a business or expanding one, but who need assistance as they prepare to access investment capital. The nine-week VJF Jobs Kitchen accelerator program brings experienced leaders to share knowledge, to mentor and to foster customer engagement of participating entrepreneurs. On completion, their value propositions have received customer validation and they are better positioned to obtain capital needed to achieve their dreams.
In 2018, the VJF will launch the Jobs Kitchen Academy, a support program that assists those having entrepreneurial aspirations identify the best path to launching a new business. Its graduates may apply to join the Jobs Kitchen accelerator, allowing them to test the customer appeal of their business approach during the nine-week program.
The VJF is also planning partnership programs with commercial property developers. Our goal is to bring multiple businesses and their associated jobs to a challenged neighborhood that has a newly rehabilitated commercial or mixed-use property. This clustering of funded small businesses dramatically boosts the impact our investments can have on lifting a neighborhood.
We regularly partner with other organizations offering high quality services that complement VJF programs. We expect that these relationships will grow as the VJF expands its investment and technical assistance programs.