The Greater Des Moines Partnership will now take the next steps in promoting inclusive entrepreneurship following a study looking at the inequities that exist in small business ownership in the Des Moines area.
The partnership published its report on Inclusive Business Strategies this week on research done in conjunction with Baton Global, which took place over an eight-week period in March and April.
The process was multi-faceted and included focus groups with small business owners, interviews with organizations that support entrepreneurship, and a general survey.
Meg Schneider, The Partnership’s senior vice president of business resources and community development, said the study is part of the Partnership’s ongoing commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in the startup and small business community.
She said the study showed that “we are still siled and we have great opportunities to improve connectivity to fill gaps in resources, programming and find ways to collaborate moving forward. there are plenty of opportunities in the small business ecosystem to do so.
Schneider said that in digging deeper into the effects of the pandemic on small businesses, the effect on minority-owned businesses is more severe.
“There are systemic gaps that we can look at and do better once we know better and identify those pathways,” she said.
The report identified barriers that exist for minority-owned small business owners.
Barriers included lack of access to top talent, access to childcare, support for growth beyond the start-up phase, access to professional services, and access to capital. Other barriers identified include lack of access to healthcare, lack of fair treatment for the LGBTQ+ community, and lack of trust and community between small businesses and business support organizations.
Opportunities identified were mentorship, community peer groups, community programs, increased access to flexible capital, increased business support, and establishment of place-based approaches with the support of incubators. and creative spaces, and the revitalization of neighborhood business districts.
“I think this is an opportunity to quantify and look through a small business lens at what we can do to better support people who want to start their own small business,” Schneider said. “It’s also an affirmation that we have very good organizations that are there to support our small businesses, but there are gaps too. I think it helps us understand what works for our small businesses and affirm those shortcomings in a more collective way to try to address them.
The next steps will start with building trust and communication, Schneider said.
“We can do a better job of intentionally reaching and connecting networks and connecting resources,” she said. “Now is the time to shift gears and make sure we are measured and intentional about this and consistent in these outreach and collaboration opportunities.”
This has already started with sharing the report’s findings with those who participated in the focus groups, Schneider said.
Another step is creating an ecosystem map to help people find resources. A digital version should be online by the end of the year, she said.
Developing metrics to provide a more real-time perspective of what’s happening to create a faster response is a goal, Schneider said.
She said work is also underway to find ways to bridge capital and financing gaps, connecting subject matter experts and developing a network of mentors to help small business owners through different stages of growth.
Schneider said the work, like all DEI trips, will continue.
“It’s generational work, but the trick is that you keep exploring and identifying areas where you can improve. And once you know better, you start doing better, so we keep an eye on that. awards and looking for ways to improve our new normal so it works for everyone and make sure our new normal is better.