Cincinnati, OH– Over the course of the last two years, MORTAR has worked diligently to create opportunities and remove barriers for non-traditional entrepreneurs from underserved areas throughout Cincinnati. Since May 2014, 60 entrepreneurs have gone through MORTAR’s nine-week business course, designed to help them build or expand their dream businesses – and now MORTAR is also looking to expand.
Allen Woods, co-founder of MORTAR said that the expansion is designed to focus on a growing segment of new entrepreneurs. “We’ve been wanting to figure out a way to better serve creatives and artists who want to build their businesses – they have a lot of the same economic challenges that our previous students in redeveloping neighborhoods have faced.” Kevin Wright, Executive Director of Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation also expressed the need for entrepreneurial programming in the community. “Through our partnership with Mortar we have begun to realize our goals around equitable change and development. They are creating real business opportunities for Walnut Hills residents in a time where there is actual investment being made in our business district. I am ecstatic about our continued partnership and can’t wait to see what comes next.”
To better focus on Cincinnati’s growing demographic of creative entrepreneurs, MORTAR is excited to announce that they’re partnering with OTR based Indigo Hippo to create subset “MORTAR Indigo”. This cohort promises to offer a more creatively targeted processes, thanks to Indigo Hippo.
Alisha Budkie, founder and executive director of Indigo Hippo, says that this type of collaboration is based on the demand she’s been hearing in the past few years. “To start your own business you have to believe in yourself, trust yourself, and know that you are a huge part of the why behind your business. This additional curriculum will allow us to shine some light on the person behind the business – not just the business.” The community has also been asking for an all female cohort. In the last two years nearly 70% of MORTAR graduates have been women, an entrepreneurial trend that is mirrored nationally. “We believe in listening to our community; and in the power of women.” says Alisha. For this first class we’ll focus specifically on women.
This new collaboration is made possible by a grant from LISC, and will allow our organization to move beyond the core entrepreneurship curriculum that MORTAR typically offers. Kristen Baker, Senior Program Officer LISC of Greater Cincinnati shared her thoughts on the importance of focusing on creatives. “LISC is pleased to support Mortar’s work to stimulate neighborhood economic opportunity in Walnut Hills. The session’s special emphasis on creative entrepreneurs is a great way to grow more arts and culture related businesses in the neighborhood.” MORTAR Indigo curriculum will include additional learnings such as: growth mindset, obstacles – both personal and professional – (time, stress, financial management), mistakes and failure, communication and nonjudgmental listening, working styles and strengths, building a team and much more!
MORTAR Indigo will be the 5th cohort of entrepreneurship classes provided by MORTAR. The classes, beginning in mid-May, will be located in Walnut Hills (applications will be accepted through the MORTAR website through April 25, 2016).