MicroEnterprise Collaborative of Inland Southern California consists of a diverse coalition of community leaders dedicated to improving small business development in Riverside and San Bernardino counties and eastern Los Angeles county.
Over 600 banks, Chambers of Commerce, business associations, and nonprofits as well as universities and community college business departments, business programs, services, microlenders, and city and county agencies understand the importance of successful small businesses for the economy of the region and have signed on to become partners of MicroEnterprise Collaborative.
Micro-businesses—those with fewer than five employees—comprise 90 percent of all businesses and provide 23 percent of all jobs. These smallest of businesses create income for business owners and their families and well-paying jobs within the region. However, micro-business owners need the information, expertise, and capital to grow and succeed.
To assist them, small business service providers and microlenders provide training, counseling, and microloans and rely on our Partners to refer small business owners who need their help. The purpose of the MicroEnterprise Collaborative of Inland Southern California is to create and sustain business and jobs through micro-business development.
In 2012 a group of community leaders convened in Riverside to discuss what was needed to improve the field of microenterprise development in the Inland Empire. These stakeholders were concerned about conditions in the region that prevented small businesses and micro-businesses from starting or thriving including:
- Small business owners and microentrepreneurs regularly failing to secure traditional financing for reasons such as lack of financial knowledge or insufficient sales or equity
- Bankers, Chambers of Commerce, and nonprofits working with low-income and moderate-income individuals being unaware of available resources to help their clients or members
- Small businesses and microentrepreneurs being unaware of available programs and services through microenterprise programs
- Nonbank microlenders and nonprofit microenterprise programs struggling to secure financial resources to do outreach to the community and deliver training, technical assistance, and loans
To address these issues, MicroEnterprise Collaborative of Inland Southern California was formed. Bank of America provided seed funding, and in 2014 Project Manager Catherine Marshall, an expert in the field of microenterprise development and a specialist in coalition-building, was brought on board.
Today MicroEnterprise Collaborative of Inland Southern California has grown to a network of over 600 partners. It has also provided a number of public education events, fostered collaboration, and built the capacity of service providers to meet growing demand. All of this has resulted in an increase in the number of small business owners using services and acquiring loan capital to grow their businesses.