Small Business Incubators, Community Development, and the Church

** [For a complementary conversation to this one, see “Social Entrepreneurship” under Writing]

The following is an introduction to the idea of churches being participating partners in small business incubators through leveraging our space, our network of relationships, and our pool of talent in order to support individuals in the community in their efforts to provide stable incomes to themselves and others through small businesses.

Small Business Incubator Ministry

We are called, as followers of Christ, to meet people at their points of need – not just spiritually, but also physically, mentally, and emotionally. One of the ways that we can do this is to support individuals and groups in their efforts to provide gainful employment for themselves and others through small businesses. Churches have several resources that can easily be brought to bear on this effort.

1)     People in our congregations have business knowledge and experience to share

2)     People in our congregations have a desire to encourage others

3)     People in our congregations have networks that could help business owners

4)     Our facilities could be available for office space, conference room space, etc.

5)     All of this could provide a community of resources and support for people starting small businesses in our area.

What would we want in exchange? Eventually, we may want people to at least cover the cost to the church of having them here – i.e. sharing the expense of increased utilities, copier costs, increased internet bandwidth, coffee and supplies, etc. This might be on a sliding scale such that in their first 3 months, people pay nothing. In Months 4-9, people pay an incremental amount, perhaps $10/month. After 9 months, if people choose to stay in our facility or another within the network, then they would pay a slightly higher fee – $35-50. This would be a self-sustaining model that would provide the resources to support even more people.

The project would rely on the training and support available from the Small Business Development Center and other similar resources.

What this is not: This is not churches or their members starting business so as to employ people – though that certainly could happen if they so choose. This is not churches or their participants taking the primary lead in offering training – we would rely on the SBDCs to take the lead on that. This is not bait and switch were we get folks on campus so as to corner them with an evangelistic message – meeting people’s needs is itself an act of evangelism.

Links to local resources:

Links to regional and national resources:

Links to existing incubator models

Links to other related articles

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