Right to Start, a nonprofit movement created to advance entrepreneurship in underserved communities, has launched an initiative in Northwest Arkansas.
The Walton Family Foundation is funding the Northwest Arkansas initiative, which will collaborate locally with the Northwest Arkansas Council, the city of Fayetteville and other partners. Right to Start, based in Kansas City, represents a national movement aimed at advancing “entrepreneurial opportunity as a priority by engaging the public, removing barriers and supporting community assets,” according to a press release. Arkansas represents the 15th state in which it now is active.
Conway’s Kim Lane recently was named Right to Start’s chief operating officer.
The organization has engaged three local advocates who are members of diverse communities that have historically been underrepresented in the region’s startup space, according to the release. They will meet with business owners, aspiring entrepreneurs and civic leaders about challenges and opportunities in the region.
These advocates are: Venezuela native Daymara Baker (lead advocate) of Rockin’ Baker, a Fayetteville bakery that works with young adults on the autism spectrum; Irma Chavez, born in El Salvador and founder of Springdale’s Conexión de Negocios Latinos (CNL), a networking group that supports, promotes, educates and connects Latino businesses in Northwest Arkansas; and Christopher Jacob, a Marshall Islands native and former University of Arkansas student who now works as the Marshallese liaison for Rogers Public Schools.
“Right to Start is excited to have these three talented individuals implementing this initiative in Northwest Arkansas,” said Victor Hwang, founder and CEO of Right to Start, in a statement. “They have longstanding experience addressing the needs of new businesses in the area and bring on-the-ground expertise that enables this initiative to be immediately connected to local communities.”