The latest cohort of City Startup Labs’ ReEntry Entrepreneurship Program (REEP) just recently completed two legs of their entrepreneurial journey, which started back in late August 2022. REEP implemented the post-pilot model of LEARN/EARN/BUILD in 2021 and the final leg (BUILD) is where they begin to apply what they learned over the past nine months.
Of the 14 that began the process back then, 10 have started or are poised to launch their new enterprises: Shaheedah Jackson, Hope McKinney, Trineka Lumpkin, Donnie Moore, James Scott, Stanley Potts, Ed Smith, Taeisha Legardy, Dominique Funderburg, and Alia Dixon.
Prior to the start, they were asked to solve a puzzle (the Hawaiian Challenge) which helped us get a handle on their problem-solving capabilities, as well as, their resolve and determination to literally crack the code.
During the LEARN phase, each received 16 weeks of digital tech services training (resulting in a certification), along with business and professional core competencies and entrepreneurial training, plus an Accountability Partner and training stipend as well.
In EARN most of the cohort developed a business model and accompanying go-to-market strategy. Others had to ditch their original idea and rethink their business concept based on what they learned earlier and were now confronted with. Still others made the choice to delay their entrepreneurial aspirations for the moment. We also provided Coaches who assisted in shepherding each of the entrepreneurs as they worked through the challenges encountered along the way.
So now they’ve moved into the BUILD phase, where they have received a Business-in-a-Box, — including $2500 in kick-starter capital (made possible by our sponsors Ally and Truist Banks), a suite of back-office services to choose from (i.e., bookkeeping, web development, social media marketing, legal, virtual admin, etc.), along with a Business Coach (most opted to retain the same coaches from EARN). This support is scheduled to last up to 6 months as needed.
As CSL begins to live into its new strategic plan and 4-point theory of change, the notion of Reimagining Entrepreneurship is fundamental to working with justice-involved persons. Therefore, we ask the questions, who gets to play? where does this happen? how can we democratize wealth creation?
At the same time, REEP continues to interrogate its process and how it can serve our notion of 21st Century Workforce Development — where folks can approach employment or starting a business prepared to succeed. And as much as we want everyone who goes through our rigorous and robust process to excel, we’re soberly aware that there are no guarantees of success.
Nevertheless, we’re proud of the work this current REEP class has done to get this far. We took them through their paces and they are well on their way!! More to come as we check in on their progress.