Over the years, FIELD at the Aspen Institute has worked to strengthen the role of business ownership as an economic opportunity strategy by conducting research, evaluating new ideas and innovations, supporting leaders, and serving as a resource to donors and investors. As we enter 2018, I want to share our priorities and work as we continue to advance the potential of business ownership to address our nation’s pressing challenges of economic inequality and financial security.
Exploring opportunities to expand inclusion and build wealth through business ownership
This year, FIELD will build on its efforts to explore business ownership as means to build a more equitable and inclusive economy. We will continue our work to highlight and expand the role of business ownership in closing the racial wealth gap. We’ll also be partnering with the Aspen Institute’s Forum for Community Solutions to examine models for engaging youth and working with our Senior Fellow Joseph Blasi to highlight and expand the economic opportunities employee shared ownership offers.
We’ll be partnering with the Economic Opportunities Program and the Financial Security Program in their efforts to identify opportunities to reconnect work and wealth, supporting content on business ownership and wealth-building as part of our Inequality and Opportunity and our Economic Security Summits.
Additionally, FIELD is pleased to be working with the Aspen Institute’s Workforce Strategies Initiative, the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco, and the New World Foundation on the Quality Jobs Fund – an initiative to enhance community wealth through quality job expansion in underserved communities. In this initiative, we are excited to learn about the role that small businesses and business investors can play in creating quality jobs.
Building the scale and impact of the microenterprise field
FIELD will maintain its focus on building the scale and impact of the microenterprise field throughout 2018. We will continue to convene our Microfinance Impact Collaborative to advance the efforts and impact of leading microenterprise finance organizations, including releasing a paper on the connection between loan pricing and the scalability and impact of microlending. We will also explore the role that technology can play in expanding the flow of capital to underserved entrepreneurs.
FIELD will continue to collect data on and make the case for the microenterprise industry through our annual EntrepreneurTracker client outcomes survey and the US Microenterprise Census. We will be launching our 2017 data collection efforts in the spring, and 2016 Census and EntrepreneurTracker data will soon be released on our website.
Fostering an inclusive and responsible financial sector
FIELD is committed to exploring how changes in our economy and technology are reshaping financial and labor markets. As part of our effort to foster a more fair and responsible financial sector, we will continue working with the Responsible Business Lending Coalition to examine how technology and other changes in the marketplace are transforming lending. Working with the Financial Security Program, FIELD will convene the Nonprofit Leaders in Financial Technology (nLIFT), supporting their efforts to increase financial inclusion through technology-driven platforms and releasing a paper that articulates their work to advance a more fair and inclusive financial system.
We are excited to share FIELD’s new work, including our research, findings from recent surveys, blog posts, and new collaborative projects with you throughout 2018. We also look forward to launching a new, fully redesigned FIELD website in the coming months. We hope you will continue to enjoy our updates and would love to hear your thoughts on our upcoming work. Please share your thoughts by commenting on this post or by tweeting @AspenMicro.