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The Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership, which last year assisted over 300 small business owners through its Small Businesses Need Us initiative, is looking to expand that program in 2022 and recruit more volunteers to share their business expertise during online events.

IFEL launched the Small Businesses Need Us initiative to help entrepreneurs survive the economic impact of the pandemic, especially Black and Latinx businesses that were disproportionately affected. IFEL now seeks corporate volunteers with expertise in competitive analysis, financial projections, social media marketing, and website/UX review to help more small business owners during two-hour online events called “Small Business Hackathons.”

Supported in part by a grant from Verizon, these events will provide “hands-on, high-touch implementation support” to help small businesses overcome barriers and to solve their most pressing issues, according to IFEL. Corporate volunteer partners receive communication kits to share with their teams to encourage participation.

“Small Businesses Need Us provides the resources to help hard-working neighborhood business owners survive,” said IFEL CEO Jill Johnson. “Small businesses are the backbone of our communities. Helping them to stay alive and thrive is critical to economic recovery and stability.”

Volunteering for the Small Businesses Need Us program is a rewarding experience and has a significant impact on small business owners, Johnson said. All materials are provided to volunteers in advance to ensure successful sessions with business owners.

Founded in 2002, IFEL is an independent, not‐for‐profit organization that supports inclusive economic development through entrepreneurship. IFEL’s mission is to eradicate the systemic barriers that prevent entrepreneurs of color from being able to access the knowledge, networks, and capital required for business success. To learn more about IFEL, go here.

For more information on volunteer opportunities and IFEL’s Corporate Volunteer Partner program, visit For information about Verizon’s Small Business Digital Ready, a free online training program that helps small businesses thrive in the digital economy, go here.