#SpotlightOnCLT is SHARE Charlotte’s monthly content series that highlights a different cause or issue each month. This series allows us to explore the crucial work being done in that particular arena by our local nonprofit partners. It is one way that we shine a light on various causes to educate the community and explore the given topic through the lens of the nonprofit community- breaking down who does what and how to get involved.
This month we are leading a conversation about social entrepreneurship. We will be highlighting our nonprofit partners who focus on teaching entrepreneurship to community members who would not otherwise have access to these opportunities and/or have a social enterprise as part of their mission.
A huge thanks to Wells Fargo for their support of this spotlight series and for their support of entrepreneurs in both the business community and the nonprofit community.
We are excited to highlight the work of 3 of their partners, written by Jess Dyer.
Planting Seeds of Success: These Nonprofits Help Entrepreneurs Bloom
What does it take to go from a dreamer to a doer? More than just a great idea. You need a real shot at opportunity.
But a 2015 Harvard study found opportunity is sorely lacking here in Charlotte. The city ranked 50 out of 50 for economic mobility among major cities. A child born poor has just a 4.4% chance of making it to the top here.
Entrepreneurship can change that narrative. And local nonprofits are planting the seeds for the entrepreneurial success stories of tomorrow.
Henry Rock is doing just that with City Startup Labs, an organization that educates Black and incarcerated men on starting their own businesses. As Rock puts it, "It's not idea development as much as it's about who you are. We're in the people potential business."
It starts with learning critical soft skills: problem-solving, emotional intelligence, time management, and business communications. Then, City Startup Labs layers in technical training and business model generation education.
Rock emphasizes, "We find that many people who approach starting businesses take a ‘fire, ready, aim’ approach. And so we want to make sure that it's ‘ready, aim, fire’."
Meanwhile, Prospera Charlotte focuses on Hispanic entrepreneurs. "Many Latinos face barriers to traditional employment," says Vivian Collins, Small Business Consultant, "It’s making entrepreneurship an essential avenue.”
Through one-on-one advising and workshops, Prospera sets entrepreneurs up with the know-how and capital to bring their visions to life.
Collins shares a standout story: A beauty salon owner who needed help understanding business accounting and strategy.
“Her journey took a remarkable turn,” Cruz says. She learned the ins and outs of business accounting and, through Prospera, secured $400,000 for a new location. Cruz says moments like these fulfill her and a greater mission: unlocking self-sufficiency.
“Prospera sets in motion a ripple effect that not only inspires but also fosters healthy competition within the community, ultimately contributing to the city’s prosperity.”
Stiletto Boss University focuses on even younger dreamers - middle and high school girls. Founder Jania Massey was inspired to launch Stiletto Boss after reflecting on her own entrepreneurial journey. “When I was reading the [Harvard] study, I was like, I was this child.”
She’s breaking this cycle through small cohorts that provide young girls with hands-on training in business, finance, law, and confidence. Massey says the results are inspiring, "I remember some of these girls. You didn't even want to get out of your seat to say hello. Now, you're part of a group of people sharing something that was in your brain that you want to do!"
Together with other entrepreneurs, Massey mentors the young girls. It’s a role she doesn’t take lightly, "We are the example. We are what they see, we are what they witness, we're a direct reflection of them and they're a direct reflection of us."
These nonprofits cultivate tomorrow's innovators, but they can't do it alone. You can help them through your time and donations. Visit SHARECharlotte.org to learn more about how you can get involved.