“A survey conducted by Buffalo Niagara Partnership (BNP) found that 93% of Buffalo area businesses have seen a revenue decline, most by 50%.”
Those are some scary numbers, especially for those who own and operate these businesses, many of which are small. The small business community is what makes this city tick. For years, we have been watching the WNY economy strengthen, along with numerous economic corridors. While Buffalo as a whole remains strong, in the face of the pandemic, there is an obvious need for support structures and opportunities, to help these businesses to grow and rebound.
That’s where Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll) and Entrepreneurs Forever (eforever) come in. These two non-profits recently teamed up with a third non-profit – the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC) – to offer free programs for local businesses and entrepreneurs this fall, in the hope of accelerating economic and social impacts in WNY.
“There’s a great need for organizations like EforAll and eforever in our community, especially as we aim to recover from the pandemic’s impact,” said BNMC CEO Matt Enstice. “A survey conducted by Buffalo Niagara Partnership (BNP) found that 93% of Buffalo area businesses have seen a revenue decline, most by 50%. Through the implementation of these organizations, we will be able to revitalize our region and build a more equitable place for future startups, beyond the technology industry.”
Organizations to provide under-represented individuals with training, mentorship, and support to launch and grow successful small businesses.
“EforAll and eforever are exceptional organizations that will bring dreams to life and bring great opportunity and transformational change to the community,” said Elizabeth Gurney, Director of Corporate Philanthropy at KeyBank (a financial partner) and Executive Director of the First Niagara Foundation. “We’re thrilled to work alongside BNMC to bring these initiatives to Buffalo, and remain dedicated to supporting our citizens, investing in their future, strengthening our regional economy and helping Buffalo and all of the communities we serve thrive.”
Peer group members share their entrepreneurial journey with others on a similar path and work through a progressive three-year competency program.
EforAll has the resources to help small businesses or nonprofits further establish themselves, take stronger root, and build their brands. This is done by:
- A combination of immersive business training
- Dedicated mentorship from local business and community leaders
- Access to a large professional network
- Opportunities to win seed money
Industries that can benefit from EforAll include personal and professional services, food, retail, manufacturing, and technology.
“EforAll has done inspiring work for various communities in the U.S.,” said Juweria Dahir, who has been hired as the Executive Director – Dahir is the former External Affairs manager for the City Hall Division of Citizens Services, where she served as a liaison between various city departments and nearly 500 block clubs. “I’m eager to lead this organization in Buffalo as we have many talented and creative entrepreneurs who simply need the support and training that only a program like EforAll can deliver. My priority will be to seek out like-minded community partners who share our vision for a more inclusive and entrepreneurial Buffalo.”
Among the over 500 businesses started by EforAll participants:
- 74% are owned by women
- 58% are owned by people of color
- 46% are owned by immigrants
- 39% are owned by people who were previously unemployed
- These businesses generated over $25M in revenue and created 720 local jobs in 2019
“Over the past eight years, we’ve served entrepreneurs in 27 communities in Southwestern Pennsylvania, including our recent expansion into Massachusetts, connecting small business owners with the people and skills they need to thrive,” said A.J. Drexler, CEO at eforever. “We’re excited to extend the same support to Buffalo, as they recover from the pandemic.”
eforever will provide support to existing Buffalo businesses through professionally moderated monthly peer-to-peer group meetings.
Earlier today, BNMC hosted a press conference announcing the forthcoming launch of these initiatives. Attendees included EforAll CEO David Parker, eforever CEO A.J. Drexler, KeyBank Corporate Responsibility Manager Kawanza Humphrey, Dean at the University of Buffalo Robert Shibley, and others.
To date, EforAll alumni have launched more than 500 businesses and created more than 700 local jobs. Programs are available in both English and Spanish. EforAll is currently available in Longmont, Colorado, Northwest Arkansas, and the following Massachusetts communities: Berkshire County, Cape Cod, Fall River/New Bedford, Worcester, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, and Roxbury. To learn more about EforAll, please visit www.eforall.org.
Lead image: Photo by Tim Mossholder