Right to Start launches entrepreneurship initiative in Northwest Arkansas

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 931 views 

The Walton Family Foundation is putting its financial support behind a new entrepreneurship initiative in Northwest Arkansas.

Kansas City, Mo-based nonprofit Right to Start has launched the program to advance entrepreneurship as a community priority. According to a news release, it’s a national movement based on the notion that everyone has the “right to start” their own venture, create their own value in the world, be master of their own destiny.

Right to Start currently has activities in 15 states, including Arkansas. Kim Lane, formerly executive director of The Conductor in Conway, is Right to Start’s chief operating officer and based in Conway.

Right to Start is working with the Northwest Arkansas Council and the city of Fayetteville’s Economic Recovery and Vitality Plan Steering Committee. Daymara Baker is the lead advocate along with Christopher Jacob and Irma Chavez.

“Right to Start is excited to have these three talented individuals implementing this initiative in Northwest Arkansas,” Victor Hwang, founder and CEO of Right to Start, said in a statement. “They have longstanding experience addressing the needs of new businesses in the area and bring on-the-ground expertise that enables this initiative to be immediately connected to local communities.”

According to a news release, the advocates will talk with diverse business owners, aspiring entrepreneurs, and business and civic leaders to understand their challenges and opportunities. They will help small businesses in the region access key relationships, build trusted connections, and collaborate to strengthen their communities.

Baker runs her own social enterprise, Rockin’ Baker, training and employing young adults on the autism spectrum while producing high-quality artisan breads for leading hospitality groups and restaurants in Northwest Arkansas. A graduate of the University of Arkansas, where she also earned an MBA, magna cum laude, Baker co-founded the Community Creative Center in Fayetteville.

Jacob was born and raised in the Marshall Islands and works for the Rogers Public Schools as the Marshallese liaison. Chaven moved to Northwest Arkansas 12 years ago. In 2016, she founded Conexión de Negocios Latinos (CNL), a networking group that supports, promotes, educates and connects Latino businesses in Northwest Arkansas.