An Interview by CML Collective for NetWork Kansas
‘Bringing to life dreams that others would usually reject’
An interview with Founder Kira Hopkins
CML: Thank you so much for joining us! We have Kira Hopkins, founder of Entrepreneur Business Basics, also known as EBB. How are you doing today?
Kira: Im doing well and I’m honored to be here today!
CML: Ive heard so many great things about EBB and I cant wait to dive into more about what you all do. So, tell me what prompted you to create EBB?
Kira: EBB began in 2014. I was doing marketing and graphic design under my first business [Integrity Designs]. I was working under a grant that was to serve minority entrepreneurs in the KC metropolitan area. While consulting with these owners, I began asking for basic essential business documents like business plans and marketing strategies and they did not have them. I found myself doing more consulting on basic foundational things for business owners. Why didnt we, as a community, have those overall dynamics? Being able to help solve that problem gave me the fuel to continue to do the work.
In 2013, I approached Dr. LaToria Chinn with my business concept and she said no because she wanted me to do some research first. I visited other existing resource organizations to figure out how I would be different. I found that they all lacked cultural competency they were not connecting to the specific needs of minority owners. Black entrepreneurs wanted validation. Validation of black entrepreneurs was missing overall. I was able to roll over those clients when the grant ended.
CML: That is so inspiring, seeing that you came from the same situation as those you helped! This brings me to my next question. Why did you want to be this change agent?
Kira: I wanted to be this change agent because I struggled with Integrity Designs. I didnt have anyone in my immediate circle I could turn to for business advice, so I spent a lot of time at the library. However, there was still nothing concise. I read, applied what I learned, and assessed the outcome but I felt I was still out there alone. I asked myself, If Im feeling like this, who else is feeling like this? How many other people would love to be able to go somewhere, get some training, have someone to talk to about their business, and be successful? So, I started EBB.
CML: Describe to us what an EBB course would consist of.
Kira: We serve underestimated entrepreneurs; entrepreneurs who are overlooked. We serve them from the ideation stage and up to five years beyond.
CML: Basically, you help them from idea to launch is what it sounds like! How does that work?
Kira: Exactly! EBB sponsors cohorts for 12 weeks through a program called JUMP. The entrepreneur is guided from ideation all the way to launch. We cover creating a business plan, business model canvas, three years worth of financial projections, startup cost, brand/marketing strategy, setting smart goals, and building business credit.
CML: I love the term underestimated. A big part of success is having the right resources available to you. How would one become a participant of EBB?
Kira: These are open courses! We put registration links on our website, www.ebbkc.com/. Whenever we have an open cohort, people can register. We receive the first 20 registrants. Due to growth, we have moved from seasonal cohorts to more cyclical cohorts. Following registering, our staff reaches out to the participants, performs an assessment, and determines what the participants’ needs are.
CML: Are there additional resources participants can tap into after completion?
Kira: YES! We offer quarterly one-on-one consulting called ENDURE. ENDURE is a paid subscription service offered to all clients as a business accountability service. We meet with clients to keep them on track with their smart goals. We go back and reference JUMP if the clients completed the program. If not, this is where we introduce the JUMP concepts.
CML: Do you have any success stories youd like to share?
Kira: There are so many different types of success, from brick and mortar to online, to pivoting their whole business into something new. I could tell you about so many phenomenal organizations that have come from EBB. That, along with the connections these businesses have made with one another shows the beauty of the cohorts. We help bring to life the creativity and dreams others would usually reject because they dont understand our needs as a community. EBB cohort participants work so well as a community.
CML: Would you like to discuss your relationship with NetWork Kansas?
Kira: I met NetWork Kansas through Christal Watson, who had met Christina Long in Wichita. Christal brought Christina and Create Campaign to Wyandotte County. NetWork Kansas came because of Christina and thats how we connected. NetWork Kansas conducted forums and Christina performed major work in KCK. She encouraged us to build an ecosystem here. Christina used her influence and brought lots of people to the table from KCK, who for whatever reason, couldnt seem to get together. We decided to start a NetWork Kansas E-Community in KCK. Christina was extremely instrumental in getting us going. Donnetta Watson, Alicia Hooks, and I were the founders. Collectively, we had served our community for over 30 years. We wanted gap funding opportunities to be brought to minority entrepreneurs. It was Jenn Laird with NetWork Kansas and her ability to see the future value of EBB that solidified the connection. She championed on behalf of EBB. Eric Peterson, Jenn, and Shelley want our entrepreneurs to be supported. They see that support in EBB.
CML: What difference are you making and how will you drive change?
Kira: Funding of community resource-based organizations is necessary to continue the work. We need to move the needle quicker. The Christinas of the world are moving the needle, but it takes so long for the needle to move! Weve done this virtually with no salary for years because we need to. If we stop, whos going to continue this work? It will take work to get there, but I pray to one day have a voice in some type of legislative movement that changes this narrative.
CML: It always blows my mind to find out the gravity of the work you all do, for free. From cohorts, to the connections you help establish, to the successes within EBB, its community resource. Thank you so much for sharing with us today, Kira!
Kira: Thank you all so much.
This interview was conducted by Cassandra Enlow of CML Collective, LLC on behalf of NetWork Kansas. CML Collective is an inclusive communication and graphic design company and NetWork Kansas partner.
About Entrepreneur Business Basics:
EBB (Entrepreneur Business Basics) exists to equip and train low to moderate income African American entrepreneurs to start or grow their business to sustainability through practical and sound fundamentals.
EBB accomplishes our mission by providing workshops, training sessions and resources facilitated by successful entrepreneurs, seasoned corporate executives and thriving organizations focused on entrepreneurship. For more information about EBB, please visit: http://www.ebbkc.com/
About NetWork Kansas:
NetWork Kansas, a 501c3 nonprofit organization, is dedicated to making entrepreneurship a priority for economic and community development in the State of Kansas. NetWork Kansas connects aspiring entrepreneurs, emerging and established businesses, to a deep network of business-building and community development resource organizations across the state. NetWork Kansas is also the home of e2 Entrepreneurial Ecosystems (e2). e2 provides best practice solutions to entrepreneurial ecosystem building in Kansas and nationally.
NetWork Kansas facilitates the development of an entrepreneurial ecosystem within participating communities through the E-Community Partnership. Contributing factors to successful development include availability of financial capital, support by local leadership and development of educational resources. All of these factors combine to increase entrepreneurial activity in participating towns, leading to increased startup activity, business expansion, job creation and more. For more information about NetWork Kansas, visit www.networkkansas.com or call 877.521.8600.