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What is Ecosystem Building?
"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." The Kauffman Foundation, 2019
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.
Every six months, SCCF convenes a Regional Coalition, a group of entrepreneurial support organizations across the Shenandoah Valley. As a group, we 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. With the help of those in the room, we work to come up with the existing assets that can help solve these challenges, as well as some potential solutions to test out. Anyone from entrepreneur support to economic development, and industry professionals to entrepreneurs themselves are invited to the table to provide their insight and feedback! If you're interested in getting involved, RSVP for the next Regional Coalition meeting, or reach out to Anika Horn for more information.
SCCF partners with organizations throughout the Shenandoah Valley to create space for small business owners to have honest conversations and collectively problem-solve. If you're interested in co-hosting a small business breakfast, lunch or happy hour, please reach out to Anika Horn.
Field Notes from the Ecosystem
Each month, our Ecosystem Team publishes a write-up about what they're hearing from entrepreneurs and support organizations, what assets are available for small businesses, and what new ideas are brewing in the ecosystem. Read more about what an ecosystem builder does down below!
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