Social Innovation in Small Business

Social Innovation in Small Business

The Florida SBDC at FAU Supports Underserved Communities

For small businesses and entrepreneurs of color, creating more jobs in uncertain times means supporting their community from the inside.

That’s why the Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) hosted by Florida Atlantic University, with the support from Citi Foundation, created a program that provides technical assistance to grassroots organizations owned by people of color to enhance social innovation in their community.

Led by George Gadson and Annette Gray, two business consultants that specialize in nonprofits, entrepreneurship and business management, the program seeks to support communities experiencing high unemployment rates and devastating ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic with access to group training, grant writing, government contracts and leadership assessments, Gray said.

Small businesses create social innovation by identifying the needs in their community where they can create products and services that will increase the quality of life for everyone, said Sandra Marin Ruiz, Regional Director of the Florida SBDC at FAU.

"That’s what this collaboration does,” Gray said. “It focuses on strengthening the capacity of each organization, enabling them to be better positioned for access to capital and exponentially increasing and improving how they serve the community.”

With the new year, each organization will go into the community and help businesses start, grow and get one step closer to success. That could look like a business plan workshop or a financial seminar, or even a class on the first steps to creating a business.

The program, which began in 2021, is now on track to continue through the support of Citi Foundation and other strategic partners throughout Broward and Palm Beach counties, Gadson said.

“It’s not only during the months of February or holidays that these communities and business owners need support,” he said. “It’s year round, which is why I’m blessed to be a part of a company that has one mission and it’s to see the success of other businesses.”

The organizations include teachers, dentists, artists, manufacturers and more, and with help from Florida SBDC at FAU, they can build a supportive ecosystem that many communities need.

“We help them so they can help you,” Gadson said. “And thanks to Citi Foundation and its resources, these organizations will be able to uplift their communities, promote economic vitality and lead in innovation and business development like never before.”

For more information on the Florida SBDC at FAU, or to gain access to business consulting, visit

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