According to the most recent Kauffman Foundation Index of Startup activity, about 17% of entrepreneurs in Missouri and 29% in St. Louis where unemployed before starting their business. This suggests that some entrepreneurs are starting businesses out of necessity. This has implications for the number and types of businesses that are created, the founders’ access to capital and the potential to scale, as well as the potential to employ others and create generational wealth.
It also reflects the reality that for those with limited career choices – due to education, experience and in some cases, involvement in the justice system – entrepreneurship can be a pathway to prosperity. We’ve invited Jason Watson, the Director of the Beyond Jobs program at Mission: St. Louis and former state senator, Jeff Smith, Executive Vice President of Community Engagement and Policy with Concordance Academy of Leadership to talk about how their programs help men and women tap into their leadership skills, innate creativity and personal aspirations to be part of a thriving workforce and job creation in our region. We’ll talk about how employers can unlock the transferable skills in this underutilized talent pool to help grow their businesses, as well as how mentors and volunteers can help individuals cultivate their entrepreneurial mindset as a way of envisioning a new tomorrow.