Last fall we reported that our Habitat for Neighborhood Business minority mentoring program had expanded to 40 entrepreneurs operating in underserved neighborhoods, in spite of Covid-19 today that number has grown to 47.
We don’t want to jinx ourselves but feel compelled and proud to report that again in 2021 not a single HNB business failed.
To accommodate our rapid growth, we created a new program to augment our traditional offering of volunteer Mentors and Industry Specialists/Expert Mentors working with individual entrepreneurs. This fall we launched our first Mentoring Forum, consisting of 10 entrepreneurs. These groups will be led by a volunteer Facilitator and a Mentor, plus a SLU Student Administrator to accommodate entrepreneurs who are more comfortable learning and networking in a team setting and through the peer-to-peer interchange. This program also allows us to “stretch” the impact of our volunteer mentors and HNB team to accommodate many more entrepreneurs. The initial response has been so positive that a second Forum will launch in early 2022.
With continued encouragement from Dean Gupta, the faculty, and SLU administration, our HNB program has also expanded the opportunities for student experiential learning, while bringing their fresh and youthful knowledge and skills to our entrepreneurs. Five SLU interns are directly involved with our program administration, plus this semester 22 Service Leadership undergraduate students are regularly consulting with “their”11 HNB entrepreneurs, and three Graduate level teams, with an HNB Mentor, are executing Capstone Projects. Additionally, through generous donor support, we are now providing small but meaningful grants to engaged entrepreneurs for the implementation of business recommendations offered by our students.
With COVID-19 still active, we again postponed the successful entrepreneur “meet-and-greet,” but ask that you consider checking out the businesses listed in our newsletter and website in the hope they can be of service to you, your family, or friends. We continue to believe the best way forward is a “helping hand.”
We are happy to report we are 80% of the way to our $1,000,000 HNB Endowment goal and the matching commitment remains. Your past support for the endowment, as well as our programs, has been a source of encouragement for our entire team and a blessing for our entrepreneurs. We genuinely appreciate your support and promise to be good stewards of your generosity.
We decided to close this 2021 letter with the same words as we wrote in 2020, “this year has been a year like no other and on behalf of our board and HNB staff we are so proud of how our entrepreneurs have fought to survive, in a few cases even prosper, and how appreciative we are for the assistance of our supporters and volunteer mentors.”
Help support St. Louis city minority businesses through your donation to HNB.