Start Small Think Big Inc: Growing Businesses, Shrinking Barriers

December 6, 2023

“Our mission is to create an ecosystem that promotes economic justice for business owners,” says Satjeet Kaur, Executive Director at Start Small Think Big. “We innovate and provide resources that drive success and accelerate growth for business owners who face challenges because of systemic structural barriers.” Founded in the Bronx, New York in 2010, Start Small Think Big has sought to help historically marginalized and low- and moderate-income entrepreneurs to succeed by engaging experienced professionals to provide pro bono technical assistance. 

Start Small Think Big started by arranging free Legal Services and access to a network of lawyers equipped with handling a range of business needs, including risk mitigation and compliance. A few years later in 2015, the organization launched its Finance Program, hiring a team to tap into financial professionals looking to volunteer their time to support small businesses and provide assistance to those lacking financial management expertise and bookkeeping tools. 

By 2016, Start Small Think Big had expanded substantially, supporting several thousand small businesses and entrepreneurs. While helping businesses with the tools for a strong legal and financial infrastructure, the nonprofit noticed many businesses still struggled to attract customers and market their products or services. 

Looking to bridge another gap for small business owners, Start Small Think Big introduced the Marketing & Sales Program which included services such as design, branding, digital, and social media. During and after the pandemic, a record number of client businesses sought support in learning how to sell and do business online. 

“Our impact was clear. It was evident that with expanded access to meaningful skills, networks, and markets, small businesses, even those most marginalized, could indeed survive and recover from the devastating impacts of COVID and begin to realize the promise that business ownership holds for addressing the racial and gender wealth gaps,” commented Ms. Kaur.

With the growth of their services and program, Start Small Think Big has seen a continued upswing in demand for services from entrepreneurs, as well as growing interest from corporate partners and volunteers – ultimately, fueling the organization’s cross-country expansion into California and other states. From New York City to Oakland and San Jose. Start Small Think Big’s commitment to equity and learning is reflected through the 10,000 businesses supported to date.  

“Businesses like the Little Hot Dog Wagon and Harlem Seafood Soul, both food businesses in New York City, have benefitted from the multi-faceted, wraparound services we provide, supporting them with a variety of business needs to accelerate their recovery and growth,” said Jo Panzera, Chief Financial Officer. “Whether it be launching new locations or adding new products and services, our entrepreneurs look to Start Small to provide access to resources and expertise that underpins their business decisions.” 

In support of innovation and our commitment to social and economic equity, Mizuho USA Foundation has awarded Start Small Think Big grant funding to help further expand the provision of digital-readiness training and other tools to help historically marginalized small business owners. 

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