Microbusiness Leadership Program to be Launched by the Aspen Institute and Capital One

October 16, 2012

Elaine Edgcomb
Director, FIELD
The Aspen Institute

Shelley Solheim
Director, Corporate Communications
Capital One Financial Corporation

Capital One-funded pilot program will support emerging leaders in the US microbusiness development field

Program is accepting applications Oct. 22-Nov. 9

Washington, DC, October 16, 2012 –– The Aspen Institute announced today the launch of ELM², its Emerging Leaders in Microbusiness Squared Program. ELM² is aimed at exponentially increasing the quality of talent focused on catalyzing opportunity for aspiring and disadvantaged entrepreneurs. The program, made possible by a $150,000 contribution from the Capital One Foundation, will create a leadership institute for emerging leaders in the microbusiness field – both high-potential staff in mature microenterprise organizations and young executive directors of new organizations.

“Microbusiness programs are playing a critical role in supporting entrepreneurs who are creating much-needed jobs across the country,” said Daniel Delehanty, senior director, community development banking, Capital One. “As the microbusiness development field continues to grow and mature in the US, we need to focus on developing the next generation of leaders. Capital One is investing in this leadership by helping to build their skills, knowledge, and peer networks.”

Demand for microenterprises, or microbusinesses, which are defined as very small businesses requiring $50,000 or less in start-up capital and employing five or fewer people, is on the rise. The US microenterprise field includes more than 760 nonprofit organizations, which the Aspen Institute estimates served about 350,000 aspiring and disadvantaged entrepreneurs in 2010. The entrepreneurs targeted by microenterprise organizations tend to be women, minorities, immigrants, low-income, and/or individuals with disabilities.

ELM² will build on the Institute’s long history of developing leaders by bringing them together for convenings over a period of time. ELM² leaders will meet over a nine-month period for joint learning and reflection on critical issues and qualities of leadership. A selected group of leaders will come together for in-person meetings as well as virtual learning and networking events focused on four overarching themes: Leadership, Strategy, Organizational Culture, and Sustainability.

“We know from conversations with microenterprise program executives across the country that leadership and staff development are critical challenges facing their organizations,” says Elaine Edgcomb, director of the FIELD program at the Aspen Institute.  “Like many other types of nonprofits, microbusiness programs suffer from scarce resources that make it difficult to invest in staff and leadership development. Leaders of these organizations also often find themselves isolated or lacking connections to peers engaged in similar work and challenges.  ELM² offers a new and needed resource that will build the field’s ability to grow and sustain itself.  If successful, we hope that we can expand this resource to include many of the other hundreds of microbusiness organizations in the US.”

Participants in ELM² will be chosen through an application process, in which they will propose a leadership project that they will engage in during the fellowship period. Participants will also need to demonstrate the support of their institutional leadership, in part by making a financial commitment towards the cost of the fellowship. The Request for Applications for the program will be released in October 2012.

ELM² is a project of the Aspen Institute’s FIELD program (Microenterprise Fund for Innovation, Effectiveness, Learning and Dissemination). FIELD has been a leader in conducting research and funding aimed at driving innovation in the US microenterprise field since 1998.

Additional information about the pilot and the participating organizations is available on FIELD’s Web site:

More information about Capital One’s community development work can be found at www.capitalone.com/investingforgood.

About Capital One

Capital One Financial Corporation, headquartered in McLean, Virginia, is a Fortune 500 company with approximately 1,000 branch locations primarily in New York, New Jersey, Texas, Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Its subsidiaries, Capital One, N.A., Capital One Bank (USA), N. A., and ING Bank, fsb, offer a broad spectrum of financial products and services to consumers, small businesses and commercial clients. We apply the same principles of innovation, collaboration and empowerment in our commitment to our communities across the country that we do in our business. We recognize that helping to build strong and healthy communities – good places to work, good places to do business and good places to raise families – benefits us all and we are proud to support this and other community initiatives.

About the Aspen Institute

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org.

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