How Best to Help Entrepreneurs

by francine Hardaway on October 1, 2009

What's the best way to help entrepreneurs? I try to figure this out every day, but it's never more at the forefront of my mind than when I plan the annual fundraiser for  the Opportunity Through Entrepreneurship Foundation, a public foundation I started as a result of my foster parenting experience. Most of the young adults I've met in the foster care program are stuck in dead-end jobs, or can't get jobs at all, because they suffered so much trauma and dislocation as kids that they never could get educated. Certainly that was true of my own foster kids, one of whom is still trying to find a decent job at age 26.

I believe these kids have to learn how to be in business for themselves, and the foundation provides training programs for them. They can do it; the best of them have risk tolerance, sales skills, and resilience. They just have to be told how it works. So four years ago I decided to put on a conference once a year and raise money for the programs.

Ironically, I'm raising money from people who probably need money themselves — other, perhaps slightly more fortunate entrepreneurs.  I raise it through a conference that people who can afford to pay for a ticket attend, and then give it to those who cannot in the form of skills training. Wonderful people volunteer to speak, moderate and participate in panels, and otherwise try to organize the most kickass way for entrepreneurs inside and outside of Arizona can connect with each other, learn, grow, and get energized — at least for a day.

Fourth Annual Arizona Entrepreneurship Conference (AZEC09).is this year's conference, the theme of which is "Bright Spots in the Recession." The main emphases are on health care, digital media, sustainability, and cloud computing entrepreneurship successes and stories.

Tara Hunt "The Whuffie Factor,
"  Kevin Surace, CEO of Serious Materials,  Jodee Rich founder of PeopleBrowsr, Howard Lindzon, co-founder of Stocktwits, and Michelle Robson, founder of EmpowHer will be speakers in the General Sessions, and the panels have equally stellar participants.

We are proudly sponsored by Infusionsoft, the Town of Gilbert, AZ, Microsoft, Mashable, Phoenix Business Journal,
and Gangplank. We have to thank our community partners, too: The Knight Center for Digital Media EntrepreneurshipTie-AZ, Arizona Technology Council, and EO. And oh, yes, Stealthmode Partners.

Register for the Early Bird discount here: If you can't attend, but would like to make a donation or sponsor a student, we've got a special ticket for that.

You can follow us on Twitter as @azentrepreneurs, too. We are still identifying the panelists from EO, who will, I am sure, be outstanding.
And the hashtag, should you be so inclined, is #AZEC09.

Francine Hardaway, Ph.D, Stealthmode Partners

Don't forget to register early for AZEC09:

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Elizabeth October 12, 2009 at 6:53 pm

This sounds like such an awesome event. The value of connecting with others to learn and grow can not be overemphasized in the entrepreneurial journey – you've got a great lineup here!

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