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6 practical ideas to invest $1 Trillion in American entrepreneurship

“Job bonds”, a regional fund-of-funds, and more ideas inspired by the Kauffman Foundation’s April convening

By Ross Baird and Bryce Butler

Fewer entrepreneurs are starting companies in the US than at any time in the past thirty years.

Entire communities are being left out of the conversation— 75% of venture capital goes to three US states, less than 5% goes to women, and less than 1% goes to African Americans and Latinos.

Small changes won’t solve these problems. But big ideas just might.

In April, the Kauffman Foundation convened over 50 entrepreneurs, investors, and community leaders to discuss a trillion-dollar “Moonshot”: how would we invest $1 trillion in ways that restore the American Dream?

Today, Village Capital and Access Ventures released a report with six ideas inspired by the convening. Read it here.

Some of the ideas include:

  • Local job bonds” that would incentivize private investors to take on the risk of investing in new businesses
  • A fellowship to help support the transition for businesses that are being passed down from Baby Boomers to the next generation
  • A Fund-of-funds that would invest in smaller, regionally-focused VC funds, getting past the capital-aggregation problem.
  • A Regional Community Bank Consortium that would revitalize the community banks that have historically invested in small local businesses.

We’ve also set up a webpage for you to add your own ideas. What would you do with $1 trillion to invest in restoring entrepreneurship in America? Tell us here.

As Victor Hwang, Vice President of Entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation, said: “Only when you sketch out the future can you know what you need to do in the present.”

Ross Baird is President of Village Capital; learn more on their website orMedium page. Bryce Butler is Founder and Managing Director of Access Ventures; learn more on their website.

Ross developed the Village Capital concept in 2009, and has led the development of programs worldwide. Before launching Village Capital, he worked with First Light Ventures, a seed fund focused on impact investments. Prior to First Light, Ross worked on the development of four education-related start-up ventures: the Indian School Finance Company in Hyderabad, India, the National College Advising Corps in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and two ventures using technology to promote civic participation. He has a MPhil from the University of Oxford, where he was a Marshall Scholar, and a BA from the University of Virginia, where he was a Truman Scholar and a Jefferson Scholar.

Bryce Butler is the Founder & Managing Director of Access Ventures, based out of Louisville, KY. Before starting Access Ventures, Bryce was the Executive Director of the BlueSky Network, a venture philanthropy family office in Southern Indiana with activities around the world. Bryce was also the Executive Producer of a documentary set in Guatemala City called, “BBOYS For Life” that premiered at the United Nations in April 2014. Previously, Bryce was an Executive Pastor and served on active duty for four years with the US Army. He has an M.A. in Theology and a B.S. in Economics. Bryce teaches Social Enterprise as an Adjunct Instructor at the University of Kentucky.

Bryce serves on multiple boards, including: Village Capital (Chair); Greater Louisville, Inc (the Louisville Chamber); EnterpriseCorp; 1804 Entrepreneurship Center; Marketplace One; and most recently was appointed to the Community Development Advisory Council of the St. Louis Federal Reserve.

Bryce is married to Bethany, and they have 3 children.