Lowe's Increases Its Small Business Grants to $55m, Pledges Another $25m for Rural Communities

In response to the overwhelming need to help support small businesses across the country, Lowe's Companies, Inc. is announcing it is increasing its minority small business grants from $25 million to $30 million while donating an additional $25 million to its small business grant program with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), doubling the amount already committed. The additional funds will focus on rural communities, which have been hard hit by the pandemic. The total $55 million commitment makes Lowe's the largest donor to LISC's Small Business Relief & Recovery Program and COVID Rapid Relief & Resiliency Fund.


Other News

Cultivate Advisors Launches Free Online Tool to Measure the Value, Health, and Exit Readiness of Small Businesses

Business Wire | October 17, 2023

Cultivate Advisors, one of North America's largest small business advisory firms, launched a new, free online tool to assess the value, health, and exit readiness of small businesses. Business Value & Health Assessment evaluates six key areas of a company, from financials to productivity, identifying the 20 most vital value drivers that make up its current worth, while revealing opportunities and gaps that impact valuation. "One thing we've learned advising thousands of entrepreneurs is that when you build a company with an exit in mind, you not only maximize its value, but it also becomes much easier to run," said Cultivate Advisors CEO Casey Clark. "Most businesses don't know their current value," noted Raincatcher CEO Jason Thomas. "Cultivate’s Business Value & Health Assessment pulls back the curtain on a business's worth and, more importantly, what its potential value would be if the owner focused on a few key areas. It's changing the game on how owners can quickly identify ways to grow and build equity in their businesses." Taking 15 minutes, owners answer questions on their enterprise's financials, sales, marketing, leadership, recruiting, and productivity. Once completed, they receive a 25-page comprehensive report on its current worth and potential value, pulled from a database of more than 77,000 recent U.S. public and private M&A transactions. Analysis includes a value multiplier per industry and a complete health assessment with value acceleration strategies. A two-hour free consultation with an advisor from Cultivate, specializing in the business's challenges, is available to review findings and create a detailed 5-year roadmap to growth, scalability, and exit-readiness. According to the Exit Planning Institute (EPI), nearly 50% of all business exits are involuntary and forced by dramatic external factors, and 79% have no plan. "Knowing your company's value is a number all owners should have. More critical is understanding the path to a higher valuation and what makes that number grow or fall," said EPI President Scott Snider. "Cultivate's new tool lets owners easily understand where their company is today and where it could go by showcasing its strengths, risks, and value gap, allowing them to make immediate adjustments that bring higher profits short-term and increased value long-term. It's a great starting point for anyone interested in building a stronger company." "We love that Cultivate Advisors leads with value when they work with owners," said Newity SVP of Business Services Frank Dowie. "This tool uncovers one of the biggest blind spots for any owner: What their business is currently worth and what it could be worth by simply pulling a few important levers." ABOUT CULTIVATE ADVISORS Cultivate Advisors, an affiliate of Cultivate Brands, the business and financial operations advising powerhouse comprised of Cultivate Advisors, Breakwater Accounting, and Performance Platform, is one of North America's largest small business skill development and coaching firms. Built with a team of entrepreneurial-minded advisors with firsthand experience running successful companies, Cultivate has helped thousands of owners in 160+ industries scale, grow, and become exit-ready, with those working with the firm 12+ months growing on average 43% in top-line revenue and 65% in bottom-line profit year-over-year. In 2023, Cultivate made the Inc. 5000 for the fifth consecutive year and Inc.’s Best Workplaces list. CEO Casey Clark was also recognized with the American Business Awards’ Gold Stevie for Best Entrepreneur.

Read More


Lenders Cooperative Unveils Game-Changing Offer for ABA Members

Lenders Cooperative | October 09, 2023

Lenders Cooperative has recently introduced an exceptional benefit exclusively for members of the American Bankers Association, designed to transform small business lending. In response to the evolving requirements of financial institutions nationwide, Lenders Cooperative has unveiled an advanced Loan Origination System (LOS) specifically tailored for small business lending, encompassing both Conventional and SBA lending. This dynamic workflow platform has been instrumental in empowering community and regional banks across the country over the past few years, equipping them with the automation and efficiencies needed to compete effectively in today's dynamic lending landscape. ABA members are entitled to substantial cost savings on the cutting-edge Small Business Loan Origination System (LOS) paired with the Turnkey Back Office Labor Solution (LSP). Lenders Cooperative extends the privilege of no implementation fees and per-unit pricing to ABA members for both the LOS and LSP offerings. Key highlights of Lenders Cooperative's LOS and LSP offerings for ABA members encompass: Cutting-edge LOS Platform for Small Business Lending: Crafted with small business lending as its primary focus, the LOS platform ensures that financial institutions can efficiently oversee the entire loan origination process. Its user-friendly interface and robust data analytics capabilities make it a valuable tool for bankers seeking to deliver exceptional service to their small business clients while streamlining internal operations. Furthermore, fifteen distinct third-party vendors, each contributing to the execution of essential workflow tasks, have already been integrated, enabling banks to implement and go live with minimal development resources. No Platform Implementation Fees and Per Unit Pricing for ABA Members: ABA Members stand to save significant amounts on implementation expenses and can enjoy per unit pricing, ensuring a swift return on investment with the very first loan processed. Support for Conventional & SBA Loan Products: The platform offers comprehensive support for both Conventional and SBA Loans, accommodating a wide range of lending needs. This flexibility empowers banks to cater to businesses of all sizes and across various industries. Comprehensive 1071 Reporting Package: With the imminent 1071 regulatory requirements, the platform includes a complete 1071 Package, ensuring that banks remain compliant with upcoming mandates and alleviating the reporting burden on financial institutions. Turnkey Back Office Labor Solution: In addition to the LOS, banks will also benefit from a turnkey back-office labor partnership capable of providing invaluable assistance in loan processing. This staff augmentation model enables banks to scale their business lines without incurring additional personnel costs. For the next 12 months, every ABA member contracting with Lenders Cooperative's Loan Origination System will have the full implementation and setup fee waived. This exclusive offering underscores the unwavering commitment of both ABA and Lenders Cooperative to support and empower ABA members as they navigate the evolving landscape of small business lending. About Lenders Cooperative Lenders Cooperative comprises a community of over 140 forward-thinking banking institutions. These institutions harness best-in-class loan origination software in conjunction with shared services encompassing credit underwriting, SBA LSP support, bank operations, and white-labeled call center assistance. The Cooperative's offerings, crafted and upheld by seasoned bankers, provide clients access to a profound knowledge repository, the opportunity to exchange optimal methodologies and direct involvement in steering the advancement and execution of innovative technologies.

Read More


DigitalOcean Launches Managed Kafka Offering

Business Wire | September 27, 2023

DigitalOcean Holdings, Inc., the cloud for startups and SMBs, today announced the launch of DigitalOcean Managed Kafka, a new, fully managed data streaming platform as a service offering for Apache Kafka. DigitalOcean Managed Kafka helps small and medium-sized businesses across industries, including video streaming, the Internet of Things (IoT), data analytics, gaming, and eCommerce, access and process data streams in real time while eliminating the complexity associated with the Kafka administration. Through this offering and other enhancements across DigitalOcean’s portfolio, startups and tech entrepreneurs can more easily grow their businesses in the cloud. “While Kafka is the gold standard for data streaming, it frequently presents technical challenges for smaller businesses with budget and resource limitations. We are excited to introduce a solution that makes this technology more accessible and meets DigitalOcean’s standard for simplicity,” said Megan Wood, Chief Strategy & Product Officer at DigitalOcean. “By reducing the burden of implementing a new platform, companies can shift their focus away from the complexity of managing their data streaming services and get back to building apps that differentiate their business.” As businesses receive higher amounts of data inputs, the ability to rapidly capture and process this data becomes crucial. Thousands of companies, including over 80% of Fortune 100 companies, rely on Kafka to optimize their data streams and provide leaders with insights that inform decision-making. With DigitalOcean Managed Kafka, startups and SMBs can benefit from the ability to scale up and down clusters with ease while setting up alerts for proactive maintenance. Additionally, DigitalOcean customers can expect end-to-end security via private networking and data encryption along with cost-effective, predictable pricing starting at $147 for a three-node cluster. “DigitalOcean's Managed Kafka offering has been a game-changer for us at Datacake,” said Lukas Klein, Chief Technical Officer at Datacake. “By taking care of the operational aspects of running our Kafka cluster, we have been able to focus our attention on what really matters – building a great product. With this new service, we were able to migrate seamlessly to an event-based architecture while maintaining the highest levels of operational security.” Alongside DigitalOcean Managed Kafka, DigitalOcean has been making investments in its product and infrastructure offerings to provide peace of mind, increased productivity, and more affordable solutions to SMBs and startups. Some of those recent updates include: GPUs with the acquisition of Paperspace-The computing power needed for training AI models and deploying at scale Premium CPU-Optimized Droplets-Higher outbound network speeds, higher performance, and faster disk writes than standard Droplets Enhanced memory and storage for Basic Premium Droplets-More flexibility with a wider choice of virtual machines Low-cost support plans for every size of business-Eight-hour response times for all issues, regardless of severity Object Storage in the Bangalore data center-Increased performance with compute and storage in one location In addition, over the coming quarters, DigitalOcean will unveil the following enhancements and capabilities to continue to make DigitalOcean the cloud of choice for SMBs and startups: More flexible storage offerings -Effortlessly accommodate dynamic storage requirements with Scalable Storage for Managed Databases, a cost-effective solution that helps businesses expand their data footprints with confidence Faster, frequent, and comprehensive Backups -Ability to create daily Droplet backups that are differential, significantly reducing the time required to create them Better performance for a range of products -Extending the premium variant to the General Purpose line of Droplets, providing newer generation CPUs, faster NVME drives, and up to 10 Gbps of outbound data transfer speeds making them ideal for running e-commerce, consumer, and SaaS apps About DigitalOcean DigitalOcean simplifies cloud computing so builders and businesses can spend more time creating software that changes the world. With its mission-critical infrastructure and fully managed offerings, DigitalOcean helps developers at startups and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) rapidly build, deploy and scale, whether creating a digital presence or building digital products. DigitalOcean combines the power of simplicity, security, community and customer support so customers can spend less time managing their infrastructure and more time building innovative applications that drive business growth.

Read More


Calix SmartBiz Expands to the UK Empowering Altnets Market Growth

Calix | September 18, 2023

Calix, Inc. has announced the launch of Calix SmartBiz in the United Kingdom (UK). This recent development empowers alternative service providers (altnets) to expand their markets with a tailored managed service explicitly designed to cater to the unique requirements of the 5.5 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) operating within the UK. SmartBiz, on the Calix broadband platform, encompasses all the essential elements altnets need to foster SME growth within their communities. This includes managed Wi-Fi services (both indoor and outdoor), top-notch network security, business productivity applications, and high-speed internet access. Historically, altnets lacked access to a broadband solution designed explicitly for SMEs, leaving them with the choice of repurposing residential products or downsizing complex and costly enterprise-grade solutions to accommodate the SME market. The introduction of SmartBiz provides altnets with a turnkey solution that not only enables the creation of additional revenue streams but also facilitates the expansion of their subscriber base, empowering them to compete more effectively within the fiercely competitive broadband markets. SmartBiz comprises two main components: SmartBizWorx productivity software and the CommandWorx mobile app. CommandWorx is seamlessly integrated with the award-winning Calix Wi-Fi systems and Calix Support Cloud, allowing for self-service access to SmartBiz and its associated features. Small business owners can conveniently monitor and manage SmartBiz from any location using a user-friendly app tailored to their specific needs. Furthermore, a customizable customer Wi-Fi portal empowers business owners to offer secure and convenient internet access while enhancing brand loyalty. Eoin Heaney, VP of international at Calix, stated: SMEs underpin the UK economy. With an annual turnover of £1.4 trillion, they account for more than 30 percent of UK revenue and employ almost half the country's workforce. [Source: Business Wire] He also pointed out that small business owners face numerous challenges, including the search for suitable productivity solutions to support their growth. With SmartBiz, altnets can now offer SMEs the essential productivity capabilities they require, eliminating the need for dedicated IT staff or the typically associated hefty price tag. Furthermore, Heaney highlighted that SmartBiz represents an opportunity for altnets to expand their business or explore new markets. He expressed enthusiasm about collaborating with innovative altnets such as Connexin, who provide distinctive managed services that empower their SME customers to focus on their core competency, which is running their own businesses. SmartBiz also equips small business owners with: Dedicated Networks for Enhanced Productivity:With network access control, SmartBiz offers pre-configured, dedicated primary, staff, point-of-sale, and customer networks. This ensures that every user enjoys appropriate access to the network resources they require, significantly improving role efficiency and overall productivity. Robust Network-Level Security:To safeguard staff, customers, and critical business infrastructure from cyber threats, SmartBiz delivers robust security features alongside network-specific, customizable content restrictions. Network Resilience:Recognizing that network outages can prove catastrophic for SMEs, SmartBiz provides automatic cellular failover, ensuring that SMEs can continue their operations uninterrupted, maintaining productivity levels, and preventing potential losses, which can be as high as £20,000 per hour of downtime. About Calix Calix is a leading global provider of cloud and software platforms, systems, and services essential for the realization of the unified access network and intelligent premises of the future. With a forward-looking perspective, it empowers its customers to forge the networks of tomorrow by adopting a DevOps operating model, enabling them to optimize the subscriber experience through the strategic application of big data analytics. Furthermore, the company simplifies the intricacies of the smart home and business, converting them into lucrative avenues for generating new streams of revenue.

Read More