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Innovator’s Journey Program: Outcome Evaluation Assessment

Evaluation of Business Solutions Program Outcomes


The Innovator’s Journey (INJ) program, carried out by CSBDF in conjunction with a multitude of higher education institution partners, sought to help small business owners innovate and be more entrepreneurial. The intervention encompassed a 6 week curriculum and 12 hours of instruction time. The primary goal of INJ was to promote small business entrepreneurial networks. CSBDF staff conducted an independent outcome evaluation analysis to assess whether the program was able to meet this goal. Data for the evaluation comes from three longitudinal surveys taken by each cohort of course participants. While there were nominal increases in most outcome metrics across time, most observed changes were not statistically significant.


CSBDF’s technical assistance management responded to the evaluation, which is included as an appendix to the report. Management concurred with all findings and recommendations. A timeline of 90 days was given to implement the proposed recommendations.


Meaningful outcome evaluations of community economic development interventions are always challenging. The nature of programmatic interventions like INJ means that outcome metrics are hard to operationalize and subject to a great deal of endogeneity. The INJ program may have had positive effects, but a lack of statistically significant changes means it is not possible to be certain. Our the results show why there is a need for more rigorous program evaluations in the CDFI industry.


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Carolina Small Business Development Fund. 2020. Innovator’s Journey Program: Outcome Evaluation Assessment. Raleigh, NC.

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