Moving at the speed of trust

Building successful ecosystems in communities requires a powerful bedrock of trust among key stakeholders alongside a clarity of purpose and vision. What role do ESO’s play in helping manifest innovation in a time of economic uncertainty?

In this episode, I speak with Enoch Elwell. He’s the founder of CoStarters, an organization that helps people and communities thrive through entrepreneurship. Back in 2008, CoStarters began as an initiative to serve the local community of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Since then, it has grown to serve over twelve thousand entrepreneurs nationally, as well as across the globe.

Collaboration has been a hallmark of CoStarters from the beginning. Working alongside a local non-profit, the team observed that more non-traditional entrepreneurs--like artists, makers, and other creatives---needed an unconventional support structure to help them grow their businesses. As with other communities, the vision called for revitalization in order to create a sustainable economic ecosystem.

Over the last few years, the notion has taken root in cities across America. This in turn has led to the rise of ESO’s, or Entrepreneurial Support Organizations. ESO’s are typically non-profits whose missions are defined by the under-resourced conditions around them. Aspiring entrepreneurs in these communities can struggle from years of disinvestment. When the coronavirus outbreak hit cities earlier this year, chronic disparities for historically disinvested neighborhoods were made all the more visible.

Yet the greatest asset for recovery comes from the people who have been working toward ecosystem building all along. And the tools made available through technology present innovative and unique opportunities.

Learn more about CoStarters efforts to support entrepreneurs during COVID-19. Go to their website:

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