Last month the ASNTB launched the Local Economy Incubator as part of a capacity building project to support small business and organizational development within the Time Bank.
Members with small businesses, worker-owned cooperatives, and social mission or nonprofit organizations come to the Incubator seeking business development assistance and are matched with Time Bank mentors who provide guidance on everything from good governance and business plan development to legal advice and marketing. Time Dollars are exchanged for these services.
Avid cyclists and community activists Bruce Chan and Nona Vardo met with Incubator mentors Nancy Berlin and Paul Tepper about their innovative project, L.A. Bike Trains.
“As a long-time member of the Time Bank, I naturally turned to this great community resource during the beginning months of the L.A. Bike Trains,” says Bruce.
Over dinner, Paul, an attorney, and Nancy, a community organizer and nonprofit management consultant, helped Bruce and Nona complete the paperwork to apply for fiscal sponsorship so they can operate as a nonprofit. The meeting was as fruitful as it was delicious.
“It was exciting to help Bruce and Nona on their cutting edge project,” says Nancy. “And because we didn't have to worry about ‘billable hours’ like traditional consultants would we were able to take the time to get to know each other, tailor our advice to their needs, and enjoy ourselves too.”
Bruce says the core values of the Time Bank provided a common ground that enriched the experience.
“Paul and Nancy are not only two qualified and experienced professionals, but also two members whom I’ve personally volunteered with in the community,” he explains. “That trust and camaraderie helped to break down the business-like atmosphere of our session, and facilitate a more personal and community-oriented conversation about our goals and visions for L.A. Bike Trains.”
Before participating in the Incubator, Leslie Ezeh knew what she wanted to do, but was nervous about the challenges that lay ahead of her.
“To be honest I was intimidated by the process of starting up a nonprofit,” she says, “which is why participating in the Local Economy Incubator program was one of the best decisions I've ever made.”
After incorporating her passion project, Legends Animated, as a nonprofit, the Incubator sponsored Leslie’s participation at Ami Howard’s HowHap intensive weekend, Make It Happen, to work on her business plan.
“Through the workshops like HowHap and the mentorship provided by the program, I've received so much support and helpful ideas that I'm currently implementing in order to get Legends Animated off to a great start.” Leslie is now in the process of developing a strategic plan with Lony Ruhmann’s help to execute her many goals.
The Incubator is an innovative model for putting our Time Bank’s social capital to work. Designed to work in tandem with the Community Revolving Loan Fund, our hope is that we can provide the ASNTB membership with yet another powerful tool that allows us to continue creating social wealth and community health.
· Do you have a brilliant idea but need a little push in the right direction?
· Do you have a wealth of entrepreneurial experience that you’d like to share?
For information on how you can get involved in the Local Economy Incubator as a participant or a mentor, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org