L-TAP's services are provided for free to business owners. This is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration's Program for Investment in Micro-entrepreneurs (PRIME), a contract with the City of Boston's Office of Economic Development's On-Site Technical Assistance Program, and a grant from Wells Fargo & Company to support diverse small business owners in Dorcester, Roxbury, and East Boston.
Origin of the Program
In March 2015, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, in collaboration with Duke University and The New School, published a report called The Color of Wealth in Boston. The report painted a worrisome picture of wealth inequality in the Boston Metropolitan Area. Among many findings, perhaps the most illustrative of the disparity, was an exhibit which listed the median net worth for households of various backgrounds.
Total Assets and Net Worth in Boston
Perhaps the most jarring statistic was that the median wealth for white households was $247,500, while only $8 for U.S. Black households. Not $8,000. Not $800. $8. At the time of the publication of the report, LEAF’s activities were on a national scale through the operation of our co-op financing program. So, the question was raised: “What are we doing in our own backyard? What can we be doing?”
What do we do?
The program focuses on micro-entrepreneurs and small businesses in the Boston Metropolitan Area. Our goal is to support businesses as they endeavor to increase their revenues, efficiency, and profitability; but also to assist in their acquisition of capital. As these goals are achieved, the greater goal of positively impacting the level of wealth accumulation for the least affluent groups is also achieved.
Workshops are a valuable element to the business learning process. All L-TAP workshops are geared towards specific learning goals that are relevant to the business owners that are attending. However, the major work of L-TAP is providing customized tools with which to track, model, and analyze a business – along with the knowledge of how to use them. The end goal is to define the businesses' capital needs and guide them to a means of filling those needs.
What types of Businesses does L-TAP support?
The technical assistance program has been designed to be inclusive to all business types. The most critical element of the program is 1-on-1 counselling. Not only does it foster a positive relationship between our staff and the businesses that we partner with, but it also allows business owners to ensure that their most pressing needs are met.
What are the long term goals of L-TAP?
The most basic goal is to, of course, grow the program to include more businesses. Along with general growth of the program, LEAF has already begun translating its specialty in financing co-ops nationally to the financing of small businesses in Boston. This complementary financing program will be invaluable as it grows to drive the Technical Assistance Program and vice-versa.