IFEL Helping Entrepreneurs Thrive Through Small Business Initiative

(IFEL) started the Small Businesses Need Us (SBNU) program to help struggling small businesses survive
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Photo: U.S. SBA

NEWARK, NJ, November 14, 2022 — In 2020, The Institute For Entrepreneurial Leadership (IFEL) started the Small Businesses Need Us (SBNU) program to help struggling small businesses survive the devastating effects of COVID-19, especially Black & Latinx businesses who were disproportionately affected. As many small businesses work to recover, SBNU continues to help them navigate the changing business climate and to adapt to the long-term effects and devastating disruptions of the pandemic.

Through the Small Businesses Need Us program, volunteers deliver impactful support to small business owners during online events including small business Hackathons, Ask The Experts group sessions, and Success Circles advisory meetings. All events provide hands-on, high-touch implementation support to small businesses along with the capacity to help them tackle their most difficult business issues and to eradicate barriers standing in their way. Volunteers render assistance in areas such as social media marketing, website review and financial projections.

SBNU affords a unique skills-based volunteerism opportunity, enabling companies and individuals to use their experience and expertise on a pro bono basis to create social impact and meaningful change. Tatia M. Anderson, CEO of The Strategic Hub, Inc., a professional services firm that specializes in providing administrative management services to small businesses, corporations and government agencies, cited the type of meaningful impact delivered by SBNU volunteers. Recently, Anderson attended a financial projections Hackathon. “You probably can see me beaming from ear to ear. You never disappoint, and IFEL always brings amazing people. Going into this I was thinking it’s going to be one thing. But instead I got life lessons; I got business lessons, and there were a lot of ‘aha’ moments. I’m so appreciative of the opportunity IFEL is giving me,” Anderson stated.

SBNU volunteers also derive great satisfaction from the program and are passionate about making an impact. Adebimpe Baderinwa-Olajide, a vice-president with Santander Bank, a corporate volunteer partner, helps small business owners in the area of financial statements & competitive analysis. “While small business owners are always so passionate about their businesses, they sometimes forget the finances. With SBNU, I have the opportunity to provide financial insights with an eye toward increasing revenue. Some small businesses have no plans in place to pay themselves, and I am able to direct their attention toward the bottom line and offer ideas for growth,” Baderinwa-Olajide stated. Impact often reaches far beyond the classroom. Baderinwa-Olajide remains in contact with the businesses she helps, and in one case, referred a program participant to Santander Bank.

‘Ask the Expert’ events are offered in conjunction with the Verizon Small Business Digital Ready platform, designed to help struggling small businesses succeed in today’s fast-paced digital economy. Connecting small business owners with industry leaders on a wide range of key business topics is an important component of ‘Ask The Experts.’ Topics include digital and social media marketing, capital access, understanding financial statements, and more. The weekly online sessions are interactive through video-conferencing and provide a deep dive into specific business topics. Participants have the opportunity to get answers to their questions and clarity on their business issues.

“Small Businesses Need Us provides the resources to help hard-working neighborhood business owners survive,” stated IFEL CEO Jill Johnson. “Our corps of dedicated volunteers have heeded the call to help and understand that the success of small businesses is critical to economic recovery and stability.

In 2022, over 850 SBNU volunteers assisted 5,734 businesses, a testament to the power and dedication of program volunteers and the expertise they provide.

SBNU’s experienced program coordinators make volunteering easy by providing all materials to volunteers in advance to ensure successful sessions with business owners. Corporate volunteer partners receive communication kits to share with their teams to encourage participation. For more information on individual volunteer opportunities and the Corporate Volunteer Partner program, visit www.smallbusinessesneedus.org. Business owners can register for training by visiting www.weareifel.org/events.

The success of Small Businesses Need Us is due, in part, to a generous grant from the Verizon Foundation.

About The Institute For Entrepreneurial Leadership
The Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership (IFEL) is an independent, nonprofit organization that leverages the power of relationship capital to create pathways to success for Black and Latinx founders, entrepreneurs and small business owners. Founded in 2002, IFEL’s mission is to eradicate the systemic barriers that prevent people from historically excluded populations from being able to access the knowledge, networks, and capital required for entrepreneurial success and wealth creation. Learn more at www.weareifel.org.

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