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EforAll: Helping Small Businesses Through Entrepreneurship

“Cisco has a commitment to support non-profit organizations that leverage technology to ensure an inclusive future for all,” said Charu Adesnik, deputy director of the Cisco Foundation, and manager of the economic empowerment investment portfolio for Cisco and the Cisco Foundation. “EforAll’s mission is to partner with communities nationwide to help under-represented residents successfully start and grow a business. The power of their model is clear: EforAll’s highly diverse alumni are starting a wide range of local businesses, creating jobs, and stimulating community level economic development. Cisco is a proud supporter of EforAll in their work to replicate their model to other U.S. cities, scale to reach more people, and empower more aspiring entrepreneurs.”

David Parker, CEO of EforAll

David Parker, CEO of EforAll, says the organization partners with communities nationwide to help under-represented individuals successfully start and grow their own business. Under David’s leadership, EforAll has grown from serving one community in 2010, to nine by the end of 2019. It offers programs in both English and Spanish, and it has just opened its first site outside of Massachusetts, in Longmont, Colorado.

Before EforAll, David spent 15 years working on six entrepreneurial ventures. In some cases, as part of the initial team, and in others, as the founder or co-founder. Four of these companies achieved significant success: Viaweb was sold to Yahoo, Direct Hit was acquired by Ask Jeeves, TripAdvisor continues today as a standalone public company (NASDAQ: TRIP), and SoundBite Communications went public and then was acquired by Genesys.

We recently sat down with David to learn more about EforAll, how they are helping entrepreneurs navigate these challenging times, and why it is more important than ever to support small businesses.

What is the inspiration behind EforAll?

It came from our founder, Desh Deshpande, a successful entrepreneur of networking gear companies. He became a well-regarded philanthropist, specifically in the area of entrepreneurship. He and his wife, Jaishree, live close to the cities of Lowell and Lawrence, which are about 30 miles outside of Boston. We were still in the midst of an economic downturn, with these local communities facing high unemployment rates and stagnant downtown growth. He set out to build a small organization to test his hypothesis that entrepreneurship could help revitalize these communities.