CFED Launches Microbusiness Solutions Learning Cluster

It's been a whirlwind year for Prosperity Now's Entrepreneurship team. Last April, Prosperity Now published In Search of Solid Ground, an analysis of microbusiness owners' greatest financial vulnerabilities. A few months later, we kicked off a Call for Solutions to inform our view of the gaps between the financial capability "pain points" experienced by microbusiness owners and the types of solutions in the marketplace to address them. In October, we invited the winners from this Call for Solutions to apply for the Microbusiness Solutions Learning Cluster, an initiative designed to help organizations design more powerful, user-focused products and services to enhance microbusiness owners' financial capability.

Today—thanks to the generous support of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Capital One Foundation, the ICE NYSE Foundation, the MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth and the Prudential Foundation—we are excited to announce the launch of this learning cluster and highlight our three participants:

  • CAMBA?(Brooklyn, NY) offers Mobilize Your Business, a program that teaches low- and moderate-income microbusiness owners to use tablet-based technology to transform their cash-and-carry businesses into more formal, bankable businesses.
  • Northern Initiatives (Marquette, MI) offers a standardized, scalable web-based training program and a system to assess and deliver training founded on the principles covered in FDIC's Money Smart for Small Business curriculum.
  • WESST?(Albuquerque, NM) provides an in-person training program to microbusiness owners and is planning to expand access through an on-demand learning platform that teaches three core financial capacity building skills: building and understanding financial statements, cash flow analysis, and implementation and break-even analysis.

Throughout the year-long engagement, Prosperity Now will work closely with each organization to refine a unique design challenge, drill deeper using consumer insights research techniques, design an intervention or programmatic tweak to address the design challenge, and then pilot and assess the impact of the intervention. Each organization will receive a $25,000 subgrant and direct technical assistance from Prosperity Now to do this work – but just as importantly, the learning cluster will enable them to share their experiences, give and receive feedback and capitalize on one another's strengths.

Along the way, we look forward to sharing the learning cluster's progress as our participants gather new insights about their clients and refine their offerings to better meet their needs. The project kicked off with a virtual meeting in mid-January, and Prosperity Now staff will start making site visits to each participant in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for updates!

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