Our Definition of Entrepreneurship
Urban FIRE defines entrepreneurship as a civil rights instrument creating economic opportunities where systemic negligence exists. Our audience consists primarily of the inner city population traditionally considered unprepared for entrepreneurship training.
Using our methods, this population has proven ideal not only for entrepreneurship training but for building a community-based, intra-dependent ecosystem of self-determination and self-sustainability. This population includes women unable to afford childcare or transportation, the formerly incarcerated, mentor diversion programs, the long term unemployed and age-discriminated older workers. In recent years, former career professionals with graduate degrees with outdated work skills have enrolled with growing frequency.
Our mission is twofold: 1) increase the availability of entrepreneurship training to those in our urban communities hit hard by the growing income disparities and 2) create a culture of entrepreneurship education and support as commonplace, mandatory for working in our new economy of self-employment and the basis for self-determining local economies.
Urban FIRE has been a steady annual training program with over 700 businesses launched since 2004 working with our inner-city, low income citizens. Because the vast majority of students are ineligible for traditional lending, Urban FIRE focuses on helping its students launch businesses using whatever finances are available with minimal borrowing at the start.
For its outcomes, Urban FIRE has won two national awards for inner-city economic development. Urban FIRE also originated the annual Ignite! New Business Expo to showcase its graduates. Over a six-year run, Ignite grew to include graduates of other Bay Area entrepreneurship training programs and service providers so that attendees could gather all the resources and information in one place.
Our Initiative Goals
- 50% increase in enrollment in our programs by 2020 from its present figures
- Media attention to our work with the purpose of dismantling the sensationalized images of entrepreneurship and increasing awareness of our member organizations.
- Greater financial support from funders through advocacy and education on the role of entrepreneurship training and services as critical factors for a healthy community.
- A website that serves to:
- unite the members as a single voice for entrepreneurship education
- provide information about each organization
- list services, class schedules and specific focus of our members
- act as a portal to our members’ websites.
- A seamless application that tracks and recommends a student’s course of work and her progress for developing next steps, mentoring, advance coursework and financial assistance using the resources and services offered by our members.
- Re-ignite the Ignite! New Business Expo each June in Frank Ogawa Plaza