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WICHITA — Newly announced funding will help a Kansas nonprofit increase its investment in BIPOC and women-owned businesses from $4 million to $20 million and serve at least 5,000 entrepreneurs and residents in the next three years, the organization said Tuesday.
“We want to partner broadly, empower locally, and impact deeply,” said Steve Radley, CEO of NetWork Kansas. “We work with local partners, and this allows us to accelerate in a variety of ways.”
Payable over three years, the $3 million grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is an investment following NetWork Kansas’ participation in the Kauffman Foundation’s Spark Heartland Program, a capacity-building program designed to bolster organizational effectiveness to increase entrepreneurial efforts in Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas.
NetWork Kansas, alternately known as the Kansas Center for Entrepreneurship, connects entrepreneurs and small business owners to a network of business-building resources. The funding will allow it to broaden the reach of its education, technical assistance, capital, and programming resources — especially in disadvantaged geographies and populations.
Click here to learn more about NetWork Kansas.
The grant will also help NetWork Kansas achieve its goal of expanding its Entrepreneurship (E-) Communities program, which establishes locally-administered loan funds to assist entrepreneurs with capital access and connect entrepreneurs to the resources they need to start, sustain, and grow a business. By the end of three years, the nonprofit hopes to grow its number of E-Communities from 66 to 80 across Kansas.
Established by the Kansas Economic Growth Act of 2004, NetWork Kansas has grown to have more than 550 partners, having created multiple loan programs and a venture fund. In the past 17 years, the nonprofit has provided cumulative loans and investments of almost $60 million to more than 1,000 businesses, having leveraged more than $575 million in additional capital for entrepreneurial development.
With the Kauffman Foundation’s grant, NetWork Kansas will continue to support entrepreneurs and the communities surrounding them with a local-first mindset.
“Our greatest strength at NetWork Kansas is that we don’t make the decisions,” said Radley. “We take the assets we have, and our partners in local communities drive the decisions. That’s the crux of empowerment.”
Click here to learn more about NetWork Kansas’ coming “NetWorked For Change” conference April 1 in Wichita, which features Dan Smith, co-founder of The PorterHouse KC, and Melissa Roberts Chapman, senior program officer for entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation.
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.