Lack of access to the internet and the technologies necessary for startup entrepreneurial success has been a challenge to low-income entrepreneurs since Larry Irving defined the 'digital divide" in 1993. Today, the COVID-19 pandemic has made the digital divide front-page news. BIPOC entrepreneurs are disproportionately affected and have not received PPP and other federal, state and local government support. Through this facilitated workshop, participants will learn more about 1) the Digital Readiness Assessment, 2) local ESOs who are specifically focused on the success of emerging and informal entrepreneurs, 3) tools for digital transformation and economic mobility and 4) the experiences of these entrepreneurs as they seek to grow their businesses.
This session is co-presented by the Usher Garage, No-Where Consultants and PCs for People Kansas City as a facilitated workshop providing information on their 2022 Heartland Challenge project: Digital Equity for Emerging Entrepreneurs. In 2021, the Usher Garage conducted research on how ESOs rapidly transitioned to digital platforms to continue business operations with a specific focus on how they were addressing the internet access and technology needs of their clients. This research included the GEWKC 2021 panel discussion titled, " Digital Equity for Emerging Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners," co-presented with SWAGG INC. The 2022 Heartland Challenge project seeks to implement the recommendations of this research by engaging emerging and informal entrepreneurs in a Digital Readiness Assessment, providing access to free and low cost internet services, tablets, laptops, PCs and related hardware, and meaningful engagement in the vibrant KC Entrepreneur Ecosystem.