April 13, 2022
The Library’s Square One Small Business Services team supports local entrepreneurs by connecting them with valuable business resources, offering free educational classes, and providing one-on-one guidance. Several Square One clients recently shared their experiences working with the Library and how it has helped their businesses.
Kansas City entrepreneur Godfrey Riddle is one such Square One client. His company, Civic Saint, is a local, “affirming apparel and accessories” brand that he uses to advance social justice causes by donating portions of customer purchases to organizations that fight for racial and social equity.
Riddle says his sense of entrepreneurship was shaped and influenced by the unjust killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, leading him to found a business focused on creating “spaces of inclusion.” He considers the support of the Library and its Square One team to be invaluable.
“Their support and their knowledge are really what I found to be most useful. And the fact that they have entrepreneurs on staff and entrepreneurial experts on staff is super useful,” Riddle said.
Getting help related to social media through Square One was particularly helpful for Riddle. With the Library’s assistance, he was able to build a social media presence for Civic Saint, develop marketing approaches, understand the market he is operating in, and identify competitors and an ideal direction for him to pursue. For example, the Library has a database tool called Demographics Now that allows entrepreneurs to identify target customers. Being able to use Library tools and resources is a huge cost-saving boon for Riddle and others like him.
“I can't even express how useful that is just to be able to save money [by] not having to buy all those books that could [either] be great or a waste of my limited resources,” Riddle said.
“Being a Black business owner, and a minority business owner, having the capital we need to scale is often the hardest part because we don’t have wealthy networks. [And] we don’t have personal wealth because we've been systematically locked out of generating that wealth through pay and generational income,” he said.
Riddle believes that Square One has been a useful partner in his journey to build Civic Saint. He feels strongly about the role of libraries in communities describing them as “the single greatest resources we have for closing the gap around equity.”
Compared with other entrepreneurship support services, Riddle calls Square One “more focused” and “very deep.” When asked how the Square One program contributed to shifts in Riddle’s entrepreneurship goals, he answered simply, “I feel more confident and knowledgeable.”
This blog was adapted from materials authored by Knology, a social science research and evaluation nonprofit. These materials were produced in partnership with Urban Libraries Council for the Strengthening Libraries as Entrepreneurial Hubs initiative, a project funded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Knology was the independent external evaluator for the project and is solely responsible for the content in the original material.
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