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“The essence of an entrepreneurial ecosystem is its people and the culture of trust and collaboration that allows them to interact successfully. The ecosystem allows for the fast flow of talent, information, and resources so that entrepreneurs can quickly find what they need at each stage of growth. As a result, the whole is greater than the sum of its separate parts.”
Kauffman Foundation, 2019

What is Ecosystem Building?

As a convener, collaborator and catalyst of entrepreneurial activity in the Shenandoah Valley, SCCF is on a mission to reduce barriers to entrepreneurship for rural dreamers, doers, makers, and tinkerers, with a particular focus on under-resourced members of our community. 

We strive to build relationships among entrepreneurial supporters, service and resource providers to enhance the flow of local talent, information, and resources so that entrepreneurs can find what they need when they need it.

Why is it important?

As a vast rural region with a population of 523,000 (US Census Bureau) across ten counties, entrepreneurial support in the Shenandoah Valley is available but not always visible or accessible. As a region-wide organization, we want to ensure that entrepreneurs of all backgrounds know where to find and how to get equitable access to the information, talent, opportunities and resources to start, manage and grow sustainable businesses. 

Our Ecosystem Building Approach

The Ecosystem department helps achieve SCCF’s mission by weaving a strong network of entrepreneurial supporters throughout the Shenandoah Valley. In particular, this department 

  • Keeps an ear to the ground of what is happening in the entrepreneurial ecosystem 

  • Convenes entrepreneurs and ecosystem partners on a regular basis so that information can flow freely and silos disappear

  • Acts as an amplifier for everything that's going on so that entrepreneurs have access to the insights, resources, and talent they need when they need them.

  • Offers professional development to other entrepreneurial support organizations in building their ecosystem approach.

 

On a quarterly basis, SCCF convenes entrepreneurial support organizations across the region (Shenandoah Valley Ecosystem Coalition) to 

  • Share what opportunities are available to entrepreneurs in the Valley,

  • Discuss common challenges, opportunities, and ways to collaborate, and

  • Build stronger relationships throughout the region.

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Community Navigator

A Hub & Spoke Model for the Shenandoah Valley

The Community Navigator Pilot Program (CNPP) is a two-year effort to build capacity within the support system for under-resourced entrepreneurs in the Shenandoah Valley. Through a hub-and-spoke model, SCCF (the Hub) works with five partner organizations (Spokes) to increase technical assistance and equitable access to capital for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) as well as women entrepreneurs. 

Meet the Spokes

All five Spokes were invited to join this pilot program because they were already deeply embedded in the communities they are serving.

Walker Program 

The Harry Lee & Eliza Bannister Walker Entrepreneurship Program (“The Walker Program”) was established in August 2020 to provide training, funding, and community support for Black-owned businesses in Lexington, Buena Vista, and Rockbridge, Virginia. The program is aimed at training, funding, and supporting new and expanding businesses owned by people of color in the area. It combines 

  • business development, 

  • professional training in small business management, 

  • grant funding, and 

  • ongoing support during the critical start-up stage.

Black and Brown Owned Business Growth Program (B-Cubed)

B-Cubed is a partnership between the Harrisonburg Economic Development, Shenandoah Valley Small Business Development Center, Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance, and Harrisonburg Rockingham Chamber of Commerce. The program blends a combination of 

  • business support (including business plan development or improvement, marketing guidance), 

  • technical assistance, 

  • micro-grants, 

  • mentorship, and 

  • networking support. 

 

B-Cubed strives to create a welcoming culture that will attract new Black and Brown-owned business ventures to locate within Rockingham county.

RISE Organization 

RISE Organization takes a comprehensive approach to support the Black community in Waynesboro and beyond. Not only do they support Black entrepreneurs in starting and managing their businesses; their efforts expand to 

  • facilitate race relations, 

  • Anti-racism and diversity training, and 

  • conflict resolution. 

 

RISE is known in the area for its annual 2-day Women’s Summit and Stakeholder Summit to build understanding and deeper relationships within their communities.

Grow Waynesboro

Grow Waynesboro is a business support and development program sponsored by the Office of Economic Development for the City of Waynesboro. The program aims to support local entrepreneurs of all backgrounds in starting and growing their businesses. through training, mentorship, and business planning. Their support accompanies each entrepreneur’s individual journey:

  • Assessing whether the business idea is viable

  • Creating and reviewing a business plan

  • Finding the right location

  • Naming & legal structure

  • Assistance with zoning, business registration and licensing.

Shenandoah University, Institute for Entrepreneurship

The Entrepreneurship and Small Business Certificate (ESBC) program at Shenandoah University’s Institute for Entrepreneurship is based on the CO.STARTERS curriculum and designed to serve entrepreneurs from within the community and the university, both virtually and in person. Participants strengthen their entrepreneurial skills through course content and guest lectures from experienced business professionals on topics such as 

  • acquiring funding for small businesses

  • fundamentals of business law

  • important accounting principles

  • social media marketing tactics

  • understanding business insurance and the risks, benefits, opportunities, 

  • development of a sales strategy;

  • instruction on how to interpret basic financial statements; and more.

Valley Business Compass

Introducing Valley Business Compass, helping Shenandoah Valley entrepreneurs find what and who they need when they need it. The Valley Business Compass brings the network of resources and organizations in the Shenandoah Valley entrepreneurial ecosystem into a single platform for entrepreneurs, investors, community members, and anyone else looking to get connected. We encourage businesses to create an account, test pilot the platform, and provide us with feedback on how to improve it by emailing hello@sccfva.org or our Community Outreach, Nick Koger.  

Map your path to success!

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