Boston University Urban Business Accelerator (BUBA)
Helping Small Businesses Grow – One Balance Sheet at a Time
On a macro level, lack of access to capital for businesses can stunt innovation, job creation and economic growth. However, at a micro level we know that small business owners are simply unprepared to manage the day-to-day cash flow challenges that accompany growing business and have difficulty understanding how to manage their finances. To address this challenge, Nathan Bernard, a recent graduate of the Boston University School of Management, launched the BU Urban Business Accelerator (BUBA). BUBA prepares small business owners to address key financial challenges and also provides a unique opportunity for students at the university to receive hands-on experience working with business owners. This allows student to observe and experience the difficulties that plague small businesses.
Supported by the BU School of Management and ITEC (Institute for Technology Entrepreneurship & Commercialization, BUBA is a unique training program that improves financial literacy for businesses in underserved communities, thereby creating bankable, businesses better positioned to grow while concurrently providing experiential learning opportunities for students.
Through a 10-week program, BUBA student teams provide over 180 hours of free, one-on-one financial literacy training to small businesses. By the end of the program, each business owner receives a financial dashboard that shows them how to benchmark themselves against industry averages and better understand how to manage their day-to-day cash flow challenges. The result is that they can now run their business by the numbers, improve business practices and ultimately generate savings that go right to their bottom line.
Bernard explains, “This summer BUBA ran a successful pilot program where teams of students worked closely with two business owners in the underserved and economically disadvantaged community of Dorchester, MA. The student teams targeted key issues like cash flow management in order to promote financial education, clarification, and organization and used the accounting software program QuickBooks as a tool to help the companies manage by the numbers.” The two business involved in the pilot were D’Benny’s, a sub shop, and A’Dalliance, a women’s clothing store, both located in Dorchester.”
BUBA is now expanding, thanks to the backing of the BU School of Management, gracious alumni who provided seed money and the BU Center for Finance Law and Policy. This fall the program includes 6 businesses managed by 6 MBAs and 18 undergraduate students. The goal is to continue expanding both on the Boston University campus as well as at other universities around the country, allowing students nationally to gain a deeper understanding of small businesses challenges and ensuring business owners benefit from the support provided by the students. As a BU initiative, Nathan, working with faculty at the School of Management, is focused on ensuring quality control measures are in place and the students receive proper training so they never lose the personal and individualized attention that every small business owner requires to be successful.