Here’s the goal: Enhance business-financing expertise in the heartland.
To that end, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation said Monday it will put nearly $1 million into scholarships to allow more early-stage business investors to attend a nationally renowned venture capital and leadership program based in Silicon Valley.
Beginning in 2017, the foundation will offer 12 scholarships — four a year for three years — to finance participation in the Kauffman Fellows Program, a two-year training program.
“This is a big deal for investors in the region,” said Jeff Harbach, CEO of the Kauffman Fellows program.
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Each year, two of the scholarships will be allocated to “emerging fund managers” from the Kansas City area, one from the four-state area of Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska, and one from the “midcontinent region stretching from the Rocky Mountains to the Appalachians,” the foundation said.
The total investment of $960,000 is designed to improve the Kansas City area’s standing as a regional hub for investor networks that help finance entrepreneurial companies. It addresses a long-standing complaint from entrepreneurs that access to venture capital is difficult to find.
The scholarships are part of Kauffman’s capital-creation initiative, “designed to address key market gaps” and improve entrepreneurial success rates, said Wendy Guillies, the foundation’s CEO.
The Kauffman Fellows program was created in 1995, partly to help entrepreneurs gain access to venture capitalists as well as educate investors about early-stage business funding. The scholarships build on that effort.
About 500 people who have gone through the Kauffman Fellows program now lead more than 200 venture capital firms, the foundation said.