Client Story: Evergreen Exchange

When you’re looking for an approachable financial mentor,
trust Skopos with training that’s on the money.

About Evergreen Exchange

In 1982, an ambitious group of local business owners set out to revitalize East Williamsburg with the help of St. Nick’s Alliance. The mission of the Evergreen Exchange remains the same today: to attract new businesses and support existing enterprises in order to grow job opportunities and support economic development in North Brooklyn. Evergreen Exchange works to help industrial manufacturing businesses access capital, navigate government programs, provide good jobs and support local business growth through high-level workshops and educational tracks.

 

Challenge

When your target demographic is intimidated by financial reports, Skopos meet students where they are.

Evergreen Exchange offers a variety of educational opportunities for all types of businesses in New York City. However, research showed a heavy concentration of local food and design/fabrication businesses that needed help capitalizing on growing opportunities in their markets. Evergreen created the Food Producer Network and the Design/Fabrication Network to respond to the needs of these business owners. A combination of deep-dive seminars and one-off workshops designed for the two training tracks empower creative entrepreneurs to build their business acumen.

 

The students served by these courses are skilled and competent at their trade. They’re passionate about what they’re doing. However, many come from non-traditional business trajectories. They lack some of the business acumen that would help them make strategic decisions, and many have steered clear of the financial management of their businesses, leaving money matters to accountants and bookkeepers.  

The range of experience and knowledge also

varies among the course participants. Some network members are fleshing out their first business plan while others have been in operation for ten or more years.

 

With so many factors to consider in the development of effective curriculum, Evergreen’s Manager of Entrepreneurship Services Natalie Vichnevsky knew she needed someone who would engage the organization’s diverse constituency where they were. She needed a financial expert who understood the vulnerability that entrepreneurs feel when they’re faced with what can be very challenging material. 

 

“I’ve worked really hard at trying to find specific resources who know the material but who are also approachable. Often in finance, people are already intimidated. If the teacher isn’t accessible, it makes it that much more difficult,” Natalie says.

Objective

  • Create accessible, actionable financial training seminars for creative entrepreneurs

  • Respond to the needs of entrepreneurs at diverse stages of their business lifespan

  • Develop the business acumen and financial confidence of independent business owners

Solution

 

Skopos’ Small Business Finance Essentials course offers entrepreneurs actionable, accessible information in a comfortable setting.

 

When Vichnevsky began developing curriculum for a financial course with Skopos founder Elli Papadopoulos, she knew she’d found an invaluable resource. 

 

“Elli really understands small businesses,” Natalie says. “She’s also a very approachable person. It’s one thing to know the material. It’s another thing to be able to communicate it in a way that meets the audience in the middle. It’s exactly the kind of match I was looking for. People appreciate having someone they can relate to because it is a vulnerable topic.”

While finding the right facilitator is part of the solution, Elli brings more than a winning teaching style to the educational equation. She develops unique case studies and learning tools for her Small Business Finance Essentials course that allow students to gain practice analyzing business finances. 

 

“The case study is really helpful,” Natalie says. “We’ve tried having people volunteer their own numbers in the past. It makes things more real world, but people are very shy about it. Having the case study makes the information tangible without exposing anyone.” 

 

Through thought-provoking exercises and engaging instruction, Skopos’ Small Business Finance Essentials course helps students become more comfortable with generating different types of financial reports in Quickbooks, as well as analyzing, understanding, and talking about their numbers. They learn how to use the data to identify their priorities, explore growth opportunities and find areas for improvement.

RESULTS

Students feel more confident in their business acumen and make smarter financial decisions.

 

Evergreen Exchange network members in Elli’s Small Business Finance Essentials course build their confidence and their comfort with numbers. The tangible nature of the course brings finance down from the realm of the theoretical to a practical education in business finance that can be immediately applied to their business. Elli works with Natalie to tweak each seminar to the needs of the unique constituency, providing Evergreen with the ability to better serve their diverse community.

It’s taken me awhile to find resources that resonate with the folks we’re serving,” Natalie says. “There’s plenty of people teaching things related to finance, but it’s very important to me and our organization that there’s a good fit there. Elli has been flexible, and I feel confident that the businesses taking these classes will be able to relate to her and get actionable benefits.”

The founder of global public relations agency Hello Human on reimagining PR for creatives, seeking out a financial partner, and launching a business during the pandemic.

When I started Skopos in 2016, I wrote this Manifesto to expresses our philosophy, commitments and ideas that drive us.

TWO FUNDAMENTALS OF BUSINESS As I entered my first business courses in college, we quickly learned the two fundamentals of business (and

When Rawlston and Annette turned to us to expand The Food Sermon into a second location, we translated their expansion dreams into a viable business model.