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date: 22 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter describes the University at Albany’s innovative $2.5 million Small Enterprise Economic Development (SEED) program. The program provides character-based microloans to low-income entrepreneurs in New York State’s Capital Region, supported by mentoring and guidance from local executives and graduate students. The chapter considers the opportunities and challenges of implementing such a program, based on the results of a pilot study. Although relatively new, SEED has generated some promising results relating to regional economic development. SEED may be a useful model for universities seeking to (1) extend credit to worthy entrepreneurs who are underserved by traditional funding sources; (2) enhance local competitiveness by stimulating economic development in inner-city neighborhoods and encourage social entrepreneurship. Unlike conventional economic development initiatives, which are typically targeted to high-tech firms, SEED is targeted to the “bottom of the pyramid” (Prahalad 2005). This unique program can be adopted by other universities seeking to promote regional economic and social development.

Keywords: regional economic development, social entrepreneurship, microloans, underserved populations, SEED

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