Technical Assistance Report: Time, Trust and Technology
This report matters because micro businesses farthest from opportunity are a powerful economic force for prosperity – not just for the owners and employees themselves, but also for the entire state of Washington. They have a huge impact on the financial lives of those whose household income and wealth are tied to the success or failure of the businesses they own.
These businesses grow faster than other businesses and build jobs, economic opportunity and financial inclusion. And with the right mix of capital and support, microbusinesses in low-wealth communities grow jobs at the rate of over 10% per year and grow 30% faster than their peers.
Commissioned by the Washington State Department of Commerce and funded in part by the Economic Development Administration, the report focused on minority and rural businesses farthest from opportunity with fewer than five employees and less than $100,000 in annual revenue. Commerce sought to determine what the right mix of capital and support is and whether businesses have access to it, knowing that micro-businesses that receive the right mix of capital and support grow 30 percent faster than their peers.
The report shows that time, trust and technology are key to improving access to and effectiveness of support for small businesses. Commerce worked with technical assistance providers around the state to learn about the small businesses they serve and how owners get technical assistance, from whom, and the factors that improve impact. The report’s findings are based on an online survey of 86 technical assistance providers statewide and interviews and focus groups with 120 mostly by-and-for organizations and providers.
Minority and rural businesses already account for a significant share of Washington’s small businesses. Given that the state is diversifying faster than predicted, the projected market share of these businesses by 2060 will be a key factor in the state’s future and likely the very foundation of Washington State’s future economy. Supporting these businesses today will help ensure prosperity for the entire state tomorrow.
The Executive Summary highlights the findings that time, trust and access to technology are the three key factors driving effective technical assistance. This summary has been translated into eight languages.
Read the Full Report
The report lays out the full breadth of the data and findings from the study, as well as the recommendations and guidance for philanthropic foundations, donors and funders, which includes:
- Support expenditures that allow for maximum one-to-one, in-person services.
- Addressing rural-urban disparities is an urgent need.
- Invest in strategies and organizations that are led by members of the specific communities being served.
- Invest in language services offered by native language speakers.
- Digital equity issues and broadband coverage gaps must be addressed immediately.
- Develop financial products specifically designed for businesses farthest from opportunity, including: character based lending; lending circle programs; Sharia-compliant financial products; loans with a zero percent interest rate; services for small business owners using Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers, such as Tribal members or non-documented immigrants; Local Investment Networks; credit repair and credit building programs and community led investment funds.