COMMUNITY WEALTH BUILDING ACCELERATOR
The Guild’s 2019 Community Wealth Building Business Accelerator is a unique business advancement program for existing minority-owned small businesses seeking to open or retain a brick and mortar retail location in the Atlanta area. Minority business owners face a host of systemic challenges in rapidly gentrifying cities such as Atlanta, including a lack of access to capital, higher interest rates compared to their business counterparts due to perceived risk, the potential for displacement due to poorly structured leases and lack of capital to purchase buildings, and rapidly gentrifying communities resulting in an ever-changing customer base. While entrepreneurship can be an effective wealth-building tool to help households increase income, build physical assets, and improve credit, the net benefits of it have not been felt proportionately by Black and other minority-owned businesses due to systemic barriers in terms of access to both capital and technical assistance. Our Accelerator aims to support these businesses and entrepreneurs holistically.
In addition to our curriculum focused on helping businesses grow sustainably, we’ve also partnered with Invest Atlanta on a pilot project to help make buying real estate more affordable for local, economically underserved businesses in Southwest and Southeast Atlanta. With a focus on the 30-acre Pittsburgh Yards site located on the Atlanta Beltline, the program will support entrepreneurs interested in purchasing a shipping container to locate at the Pittsburgh Yards Shipping Container Garden. The proposed real estate fund would address three major challenges experienced by minority-owned businesses: access to affordable real estate in high demand areas; provide an opportunity for wealth building through owning a real estate asset; and limited access to capital to acquire commercial property.
Promoting community wealth building strategies
Our program is also unique in that it aims to help small businesses explore long-term ways to increase community wealth and protect their business legacy. We do this by providing trainings and workshops on cooperatives, employee share ownership programs, and alternative capital raising strategies. Our vision is thriving local economies where underserved businesses are supported holistically and help to increase community wealth and resilience.
WHO WE’RE LOOKING FOR
The Guild and Invest Atlanta seek businesses that meet the following criteria:
Can provide proof of City of Atlanta up-to-date business license by program acceptance date
Can provide documentation that their products or services have are beyond the ‘ideation’ stage. Products/services should currently be or have been available in the market and earned revenue over the last 2 years.
Genuine interest in opening a brick and mortar location in or near City of Atlanta in the next 0-2 years.
Note: The Guild will prioritize minority-owned businesses and underrepresented entrepreneurs located in Atlanta’s Southside and in other low to moderate-income neighborhoods for this program.
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT
One 2-3 hour class per week with curriculum focused on improving business viability: topics include customer discovery and product development, in-depth financial projections, operations management, and marketing.
Access to shared back-office resources via “office hours”: access to accountants, HR services, and legal support.
Access to mentors and peer coaches to support the “whole entrepreneur” and set you up for success: personal development resources such as personal finance coaching, leadership workshops, one-on-one time with business mentors and peer coaches.
Exposure to alternative economic models such as cooperatives, worker ownership, alternative capital raising strategies, etc. to help your business build wealth for your community.
Exposure to commercial real estate purchasing, leasing, and management workshops to help you improve the success rate of a retail location for your small business.
WHAT WE EXPECT
Attendance and active participation in all mandatory sessions, coaching, and graduation
Completion of assignments that are focused on helping your business grow and succeed
An open mind and heart, and a willingness to provide support to your peers in the program. Being a minority small-business owner is hard, and we actively try to create a space where everyone can bring their whole selves and build deep relationships with their peers.
If you’d like to apply for Invest Atlanta’s program, here are some additional considerations:
Apply for and successfully complete The Guild’s 2019 Community Wealth Building Business Accelerator Program
Plan to locate your business at Pittsburgh Yards’ Shipping Container Garden and purchase a shipping container
Qualified businesses who plan to purchase a shipping container for locating at Pittsburgh Yards may apply for Invest Atlanta’s Commercial Real Estate Acquisition product, currently in development