Not Just Borrowed Books: Boston Public Library Offers Free Getting Started Tips

Beginning in September, members of the Boston Public Library will be able to view free business advice.

The library recently won a grant to start an entrepreneur-in-residence program at its central location in Copley Square. Paula Sakey, executive director of the Boston Public Library Fund, said the library plans to bring in two local entrepreneurs to help mentor aspiring business owners. Entrepreneurs will be available to answer questions on topics such as obtaining financing or developing detailed business plans.

Sakey said one of the program’s primary missions is to provide resources to people who have been historically underrepresented in the Massachusetts business community. Mentors will be people of color who understand the additional barriers these people face, including lack of direct access to capital or peers in the business community.

“What we see in the city of Boston is a lot of disparity,” Sakey said. “While it’s an incredible center for innovation and entrepreneurship, if you’re not part of this ecosystem, you’re not part of this ecosystem.”

Data shows that Massachusetts entrepreneurs of color are less likely to receive funding for their business than their white peers. According to a 2021 Boston Indicators report, only 10% of small business loans go to neighborhoods where the majority of residents are people of color.

Sakey said demand for the library’s community programs and social services has increased since the pandemic. The library hired a full-time social worker earlier this year to help with things like filling out housing applications. The library also offers regular courses on computers, financial planning and learning English.

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