CELEBRATE | August 14, 2020

Arkansas Leading the Way in Rallying Community Organizers

Photo Credit: ©Felixmizioznikov via Canva.com

The first rule of Global Entrepreneurship Week is: You talk about Global Entrepreneurship Week.

To your colleagues, network, friends, family, strangers, and acquaintances. You talk about GEW over the phone, in person, through Zoom, over email, in a group, or one on one. Global Entrepreneurship Week should be talked about at every conceivable opportunity to anyone that will listen. At least, that’s the approach that we as the Arkansas state coordinators have taken in our effort to make ours the most active state during GEW 2020.

We -- Grace Rains, Director of Operations, and Tiffany Henry, Director of Entrepreneurial Communities -- both work at an entrepreneurial support organization called Conductor. In our shared role as GEW Arkansas state coordinators, we are laser-focused on expanding GEW activities from sporadic community participation to a full state collaborative. With a mission to empower entrepreneurs, innovators, and makers, we have utilized GEW’s four pillars - policy, inclusion, education, ecosystem - to recruit community organizers from every corner of Arkansas who champion entrepreneurship in their daily lives.

GEW community organizers are people who have committed to hosting local events that engage and highlight entrepreneurs as well as promote an innovative culture. One community organizer who is taking this responsibility to heart is entrepreneur Mat Faulkner of Searcy, Arkansas.

In a town of approximately 23,000 people, Mat has big plans to make sure everyone participating in GEW Arkansas knows about his community and his local startups. As a way to further collaborate across the state and engage with all community organizers, he is creating a statewide entrepreneur awards ceremony to honor the work that business owners do to improve our communities and economy. Leveraging their existing networks, he is going to use a local voting system to help bubble to the top founders who are making a difference.

Utilizing existing networks is a great strategy to get the word out about GEW, as well as pull together people who may otherwise never have the opportunity to work on a joint venture. Ecosystem building is a team sport, and although GEW is only one week long, empowering entrepreneurs never ends. We hope by bringing community organizers together with the purpose of collaborating on GEW, lasting relationships will be formed and partnerships made that will continue well after November.

A statewide initiative is not possible without a team of invested individuals who share the same vision of promoting entrepreneurship as the most equitable and sustainable form of economic development. Arkansas has more GEW community organizers than any other state, including California, Massachusetts, and New York; the three states that hold the majority of venture capital investments and are typically considered the most entrepreneurial.

Through GEW, we aim to show the world that although Arkansas is small, it is mighty in its tenacity and determination to make entrepreneurship a reality for its citizens.

And that is something worth talking about. 

Tiffany Henry is the Rural Director at the Conductor where she facilitates economic and community… About the author

Grace serves as the Director of Operations at Conductor (www.arconductor.org) in Central Arkansas. She is an active member in the… About the author