Fund 17 is a nonprofit social enterprise hoping to create a new economic system of opportunity in New Orleans. The organization is dedicated to combating opportunity inequality in the 17 wards of the city by providing micro-entrepreneurs with financial tools for self-empowerment.
The organization is currently focusing on the 7th and 8th wards through a two-phase project. The first phase will be a research effort to identify and understand informal and home-based entrepreneurship in the area. The second phase will include a workshop series and 1-on-1 business development assistance for 10 entrepreneurs from the area.
Fund 17 recently received a $27,115 grant from the Kellogg Foundation, which will fund the new project.
“Informal enterprise is a culturally and economically significant tradition in New Orleans neighborhoods, but often this activity is hidden behind the larger entrepreneurial renaissance occurring across the city.” said Haley Burns, Founder and Executive Director of Fund 17. “We believe affordable investment and tailored assistance can create sustainable livelihoods for community entrepreneurs. This project will help us understand the needs and challenges of small-scale businesses so that we can better assist in their growth.”
With the funding, Fund 17 will be able to hire 15 residents of the area to conduct door-to-door research.
“We hope the research will become a resource to other organizations and service providers in the area so that we can collaboratively meet needs in an informed matter,” Burns said. “Ultimately, Fund 17 hopes this project will bring attention to micro-entrepreneurship as a vital part of New Orleans’ economic engine. If we empower the caterers, gardeners, artists and hair stylists, we support income for community members and their families while also maintaining the tradition and culture that is vital to our city’s urban fabric.”