Yesterday, we held the 2014 Ohio Microbusiness Network Spring Summit on best practices for microbusiness development organizations. The summit included nearly forty practitioners, some well-established and some that have yet to begin. The impact of the organizations at the Summit includes over 3000 individuals provided with training and technical assistance and nearly 300 microloans used to start businesses in Ohio.
The networking heavy summit began with a panel of established programs, discussing documentation and procedures for microloans and for underwriting. Nontraditional forms of underwriting are a unique aspect of microlending that was discussed heavily. There was a wealth of experience that helped new and old organizations look at their own lending procedures and think about what they could change about them.
After a rambunctious speed networking session (and of course lunch!) there was a second panel that blended newer and older programs with marketing expertise to talk about effectively spreading the word about microlending programs. Social media marketing was discussed at length (including a shout out to this blog!), and people came away with some great info on reaching every demographic they could hope for, as well as how to gather and utilize data to tell their story.
The Ohio Microbusiness Network is a great forum for discussion for microbusiness development practitioners. There are monthly conference calls, biannual summits, and a developing web forum. If you are interested in microbusiness development, or are a current development practitioner, and would like to join the network, please contact David Foust at firstname.lastname@example.org or Sam Bolam at email@example.com.