Removing Barriers With The Kauffman Foundation

Recently, the Access Ventures team had the privilege of facilitating a two day workshop convened and hosted by the Kauffman Foundation at their headquarters in Kansas City. The Kauffman Foundation set the following objective: can we bring a group of sharp minds from across the country, and from various parts of the solution spectrum, together to design the “$1 Trillion Moonshot?”

The gathering of leaders and entrepreneurs was modeled after the Kennedy proclamation in 1963 about the United States’ literal moonshot. We desired to imagine solutions that might help make another moonshot possible – re-imagining the American Dream, removing barriers for entrepreneurs, and ensuring we maintain our position of prominence as a nation of innovation and a strong entrepreneurial spirit.

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Dustin Shay of Village Capital discusses in his group ideas and practical next steps to deploy $1M into the entrepreneur ecosystem.
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People from across industry’s worked in groups to discuss innovative ways to further entrepreneurship and remove barriers for a more inclusive economy.
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Throughout the workshop, groups worked on making quick decisions and testing new ideas to present a final product by the end of the event.
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One of the highlights of bringing so many leaders and entrepreneurs in the industry to this event was the intentionality of meeting and connecting with each other.
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Each participant was asked to always be taking notes throughout the workshop, which will be used in the final report released by the Kauffman Foundation.
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Michael Hokenson of Community Investment Management works on storyboarding out ideas before presenting to attendees.

The group of approximately 45 microfinance experts, bankers, venture capitalists, CDFI executives, entrepreneurs, government entities and aligned foundations, spent multiple sessions over the 2-day period designing various solutions. We also spent the bulk of Day 2 looking at the Kansas City region as a microcosm of what is happening across the country and attempted to put forward solutions that could be deployed at under $1M in the next six months. Each segment of the workshop worked to keep these questions front-and-center:

– How might we support (“Prime the Pump”) the emergence of funds and intermediaries focused on solving these problems? What is the role of grant funding? What is the role of creative debt? Equity?

– How can we create solutions that are accessible for funders (and community citizens) at $10,000 and $1 million? Is there a diversity of solutions across the spectrum that lead to a more robust ecosystem?

– How might we better support innovative and high-risk funds and products working to level the playing field within venture capital across the country?

– What might be needed to bring the world of foundations and community funders along in this conversation? How do we better align community development initiatives and economic development goals of supporting entrepreneurship?

– How should we interact with government entities? What role do they play? How do we better understand the different levels (metro, state, federal) and the necessary changes to support a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem?

The report and findings will be published at a later date by the Kauffman Foundation, but until then, here are some pictures that capture the spirit of collaboration that embodied the 2-day event.

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A week with leaders from across the country working together to create a more inclusive economy is closely aligned with the mission of Access Ventures. We strive for excellence and forward-thinking that challenges the status quo with new and creative ways to make impactful investments. If this sounds like your organization or business then our team would love to hear from you and learn how we can continue to remove barriers for entrepreneurs!


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