SOURCE River West Entrepreneurship Center was launched in 2016 out of a partnership between the IUPUI Office of Community Engagement, LISC and the Near West/River West Great Places 2020 leadership. It was created to fulfill the neighborhood’s desire for entrepreneurship and small-business education and resources aimed at growing small business in the Near West area of Indianapolis.
At SOURCE, entrepreneurship is all about opportunity and inclusiveness: 85 percent of clients are part of the traditionally underserved populations of black/African American, Hispanic and/or female. Nationally, startups by women and people of color are the fastest-growing segment of new business, but this boom is generally overlooked because the businesses are often very small, with few workers or even only a single owner/operator. To meet the needs of these small or micro-businesses, SOURCE provides accessible, low- or no-cost programs and services that build confidence and bridge the opportunity divide.
And IUPUI students are important to the work:
- Graduate students from the COMET Lab in the School of Informatics and Computing developed and staff a new initiative called Techno Talks, for which students give a monthly presentation on a business-relevant technology topic and follow up with hands-on tech assistance to SOURCE clients.
- Graduate and undergraduate students from the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs have conducted capstone and class research projects on topics including small-business needs assessments, client focus groups, economic development plan assessments and community impact studies.
- Herron School of Art + Design students have conducted marketing and branding studies for business owners.
- SOURCE student interns routinely respond to clients’ inquiries, direct clients to resources, ensure the resources are up to date and accurate, manage communications and social media, and assist with programming and workshops.
Riley Smith, an IUPUI political science and philosophy major, said it best: “Working at SOURCE, I have the privilege of being involved with diverse projects aimed at fostering business development. Not only do I get to assist the community by helping to make entrepreneurial resources more accessible, but I also have the opportunity to learn and practice new skills such as event planning, website design, customer support and marketing.”
SOURCE is proud to involve IUPUI students in the mission to create an environment where entrepreneurs and small-business owners can learn, grow and thrive. These students bring a wealth of expertise and passion that benefits the business owners, and the students have an opportunity to serve their community and learn about business firsthand.