Day 3 has been very insightful! We are still processing and refining the different information received.
Today, our team met a diverse group of leaders who are passionate about the work they do. Our first interviewee was a couple. The husband, a former runner and coach, manages Cross Road Africa and the wife a Professor of Urban Development from one of the University of New Orleans. Our conversations with them confirmed some of the constraints that others had mentioned in past interviews including: the lack of skills, the problems associated with capital and credit ratings and the limited resources available to entrepreneurs. Bringing their expertise from academia and business, the couple indicated that the following are best practices that will help entrepreneurs to succeed:
- Strong Market Analysis
- Education and training especially in technical skills
- Strong network opportunities in common sectors
In the afternoon, we met a phenomenal woman at the Small Business Administration office in downtown New Orleans. We were really humbled by her commitment to effecting change in her community through policy. Her dedication to the community work was inspiring and exceptional.
Indeed, policy makers like her remind us of the important role that civil servants play in society and the hope that these policy makers bring to our dysfunctional societies. In this meeting, our team was exposed to the resources available to small businesses through the federal government. We were pleased to know that there are some free services and technical support system that have been established for minorities and disadvantaged citizens of the community. However, we also learned that the historical and political context of New Orleans is important to understanding the economic hurdles that minorities face in general. In terms of recommendations, our team was challenged to explore safeguard capital sources that had long term payment plans and lower interest rates for minority and women entrepreneurs.