Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll) is launching a free business accelerator aimed at Northwest Arkansas companies. The accelerator will also be offered through a Spanish-language program.
This year-long accelerator is receiving financial backing from the Walton Family Foundation.
This is EforAll’s first accelerator in Arkansas and only its third state to operate in, which includes Massachusetts and Colorado.
“We are thrilled that our proven program is expanding to Northwest Arkansas. This region has enjoyed tremendous economic success, but community and business leaders recognize the need to create a more inclusive entrepreneurship ecosystem to meet the needs of all its residents,” EforAll CEO David Parker said in a statement. “We believe EforAll and EparaTodos will fill that void by helping those who may not have access to the right resources or tools start a business and have their own opportunity to flourish in the local community.”
EforAll’s accelerators are designed to provide a range of resources to entrepreneurs, including immersive business training, professional access and mentorship. Cohorts consist of up to 15 entrepreneurs per accelerator, which use in-person sessions held twice a week to discuss early-stage business issues during the first three months of the program.
The accelerator program is divided into two phases, with the first phase consisting of the cohort meetings, as well as 90-minute meetings each week between entrepreneurs and their team of three mentors to guide the entrepreneur. The first phase concludes with a showcase and celebration.
In the second phase, entrepreneurs meet with the mentor team once a month for 90 minutes over the course of nine months. The cohort members gather together once per quarter.
Throughout the program, there are quarterly opportunities to win seed money, according to EforAll’s website.
Founded in 2010 by Jaishree and Desh Deshpande, EforAll (then known as Merrimack Valley Sandbox) had its first community launch in 2012 in Lowell, Mass. It launched its first Spanish language business accelerator in 2014 in Lawrence, Mass. Since that time, EforAll has expanded to multiple areas on the East Coast, including Roxbury, Greater Worchester, Cape Code, Berkshire County and other cities.
According to a chart provided by the organization, 502 businesses have been started by EforAll alumni, raising nearly $35 million in capital and creating 720 local jobs. In 2019, these companies had $25.2 million in revenue.
Of the companies created, the majority – 43 percent – were in the services industry. The next most represented industries were the food industry at 18 percent and the retail industry at 12 percent. The remaining industry include nonprofits at 9 percent, manufacturing at 7 percent, tech at 6 percent and other at 5 percent.
An overwhelming percentage of EforAll businesses are women-owned at 74 percent. The organization also has a significant percentage of business owned by people of color at 58 percent and immigrants at 46 percent.
“EforAll’s bilingual business accelerator programs will offer Latinx entrepreneurs in the region the confidence, support and networks they need to start their businesses,” Northwest Arkansas Council entrepreneurial development director Jeannette Balleza Collins, entrepreneurial development director said. “It’s energizing to consider the power of more inclusive engagement and representation in our diversifying community.”
EforAll is currently seeking an executive director for the Northwest Arkansas accelerator.