Innovating for Growth: How Digital Platforms Are Transforming Small Business Support

Empower small businesses with better business intelligence

Lending is a crucial challenge for small businesses, but so is the lack of data insights. Small businesses need timely information to compete with big chains and help make smart business decisions. With support from the Centre, the CRF is working to integrate geographic, local economic and business data, as well as predictive insights and analytics into its Connect2Capital platform. The introduction of these tools can be a game-changer as they allow CRF member organizations and their entrepreneurs to more accurately assess the financial health of their businesses, including sales trends, cash flow and forecasts. For example, CDFIs can use this technology to receive notifications and respond with interventions when companies exhibit stress indicators.

Haskell told us, for example, that by having access to historical data, she could make more informed buying decisions ahead of major events like the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Fair and Rodeo. Without it, she risks ordering too many cups, straws, syrups and other supplies that require large upfront investments (and could end up sitting on the shelves) or ordering too few and running out. This information would help Haskell not only manage the day-to-day, but also plan for the future growth of his business, seize opportunities and manage risks.

There is a popular Lakota phrase that Four Bands uses to describe the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation. The term is “Icahya Woecun”, which means a place to grow. And part of that growth will come from how Four Bands embraces transformative digital tools to meet the needs of underserved small businesses. After all, when small businesses thrive, so do their local communities and economies.

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