By Past District Governor Matthew Kane, member of the Rotary Club of North Raleigh, North Carolina, USA
Often we Rotarians prefer to focus on smaller club projects that we can complete in an afternoon or a Saturday morning. We jump in, solve a problem, and then we’re focusing on the next small project.
But other times, we identify a big challenge and decide to take a deep breath, roll up our sleeves and become People of Action. The new project brings us to a table surrounded by community leaders and visionaries. Slowly, this becomes your club’s signature project. The sustained impact on your community becomes a game changer.
In 2016, I challenged my club to build entrepreneurship in our community. We knew two things: we had no idea where to begin and we couldn’t do all this work by ourselves. After confirming with local entrepreneurs that they would truly benefit from our support, we started by inviting a team of community leaders together. Just like a pot luck dinner, every community partner brought something special to the table. The result has been amazing and we have now graduated almost 100 entrepreneurs in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. See their faces and learn more on our website. Rotarians in Detroit, Michigan originally designed this model called LaunchDETROIT.
We offer four components:
- Ten weeks of business education (our community college partner takes the lead on this)
- Access to small loans (our banking partner helps with this)
- Mentors (SCORE, an organization that connects business mentors with volunteers works on this along with local Rotarians)
- Networking opportunities (our Chamber of Commerce and other leaders lead this)
We recognized that we could help other Rotary clubs in the United States replicate our success and created a website that serves as a template to help you get started and answer your questions. It connects you with a proven educational curriculum that you can license for $200 USD a year. It includes forms, interview questions, projected expenses and even all the electronic files to easily build your website. We make this available at no charge to Rotary clubs and their project partners.
For those who live outside the United States, the Rotarian Action Group for Microfinance and Community Development has created a guidebook that can be downloaded here. Rotarians with years of experience building community development and microfinance projects recognized the value of compiling tips, recommendations and best practices into this single document. With the help of this guide, Rotarians like you can more readily implement effective projects in your community and around the world.
You will learn the basics of community economic development including:
- How to identify six key community partners
- Learn how to confirm your community can truly benefit from microfinance
- Learn where to find a top quality business education curriculum
- Learn how to select quality mentors
- Learn how to evaluate the effectiveness of your program
Contact me and let me know how I can help you grow entrepreneurship in your community.