The Cooperative Trust’s 2013 Crash the GAC event will focus on designing a new credit union product or service that makes it easier for entrepreneurs to launch and run their small business.
“Small businesses are key to economic growth for our communities and increasing access to small business capital by raising the business lending cap is the central issue on the Hill this year,” said Brent Dixon, founder of The Cooperative Trust. “In order to best lobby on behalf of small businesses we have to deeply understand their needs.”
CUNA will stage the 2013 GAC on Feb. 24-28 in Washington, D.C.
The Cooperative Trust is a grassroots organization hosted by the Filene Research Institute with support from CUNA Mutual Group. The Cooperative Trust connects and enables young people fighting for the future of socially responsible finance through meet-ups, mentorships and collective action.
“I think there has been a shift for us to collaborate, and you learn more by doing,” said Dixon about the evolution of the Crash events. “Looking ahead we’re going to just keep building things and focus on doing more than we talk about. It’s important not just for our general mission and purpose but to help grow.”
Applications for the 15 potential Crashers will be accepted through Jan. 10.
While the Crash will coincide with the basic conference agenda established by CUNA, including scholarships for registration, the 2013 approach to the projects will be unique.
Starting the afternoon of Sunday, Feb. 24, the selected Crashers will focus on learning the concepts of design thinking and its applications to solving real-world problems during a half-day Design Thinking Workshop led by Dixon.
The group’s goal will be to create new solutions for credit unions designed to help better meet small business needs.
According to Dixon, pre-conference assignments will be required to engage the topic and to feed intense research and discovery sessions. As part of the research Crashers will meet and have in-depth conversations with members of their local small business community and entrepreneurs as a way to better understand how they maintain capital flow and deal with their daily challenges and frustrations.
“There are new tools, and players now like Kickstarter and some business owners had to turn to credit cards to keep their businesses afloat. The best way to understand and solve problems is to look at people from both extremes and pull the patterns out,” said Dixon. “There is this new environment and we want to sit and find out what other new issues there are and focus on the younger entrepreneur who may do things differently to launch virtually for example, there’s a lot less overhead,” Dixon said.
“So in order to help people if the MBL cap is raised or even before it is raised to go and fight on the Hill on their behalf, is to try to really understand what they do, identify opportunities and build a solution,” he said.
According to Dixon, the increased commitment, both from extended onsite time and required homework in advance, Crashers can guarantee their time out of the office will be valuable, as they return home with a real-world solution for their credit union and their community.