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Partnering up to support small businesses just as many approach the COVID-19 precipice

In May 2019, the same month that she became chief executive of the Mansmann Foundation, A.J. Drexler attended a conference in Kansas City, Mo., that brought together hundreds of leaders of organizations that work to support entrepreneurs and jump-start small-business activity.

At that event she met a manager from Entrepreneurship for All, a Boston-area nonprofit that fosters startups through business accelerator programs.

Mansmann and EforAll quickly began talks about collaborating and later agreed to develop a strategic partnership that would combine Pittsburgh-based Mansmann’s peer-to-peer support groups for entrepreneurs with EforAll’s expertise in launching new firms.

They didn’t expect to roll out their plan during a global pandemic decimating the small-business sector. But the timing might be spot on, the partners believe.

Economic fallout from the pandemic has raised “awareness of how important small businesses, retail and service businesses are to the fabrics of communities,” said David Parker, chief executive officer of EforAll.

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