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Creating & Launching Interise




Creating & Launching Interise


How can we create, build, and spin-off an independent organization that supports small business owners in growing their businesses and developing local economies?

Two Female Cashiers Smiling


In 2004, Root Cause and partners at Boston University launched Inner City Entrepreneurs – now known as Interise – to support new, urban, small businesses. Interise builds a network for entrepreneurs consisting of community development organizations, government agencies, instructors, and business experts to share knowledge and help them grow.

Interise researches and evaluates existing small businesses in low- and moderate- income communities to understand the complex systems and networks affecting their growth. From this evaluation, Interise helps small businesses learn, through the Streetwise ‘MBA’™ program, about potential barriers to growing, finding financing, and overcoming these challenges to run a successful business.

In 2004, the first class of 14 business owners participated in the Streetwise ‘MBA’™ program. The course runs for eight months, teaching small business owners skills such as marketing, financial analysis, sales, strategic growth planning, accessing funding, and more. After completion of the course, small business owners have developed a three-year financial plan, acquired access to funding networks, and gained confidence to advocate for themselves, their employees, and their communities.

Interise licenses the Streetwise ‘MBA’™ to partners who deliver it through their own locally branded programs. This framework allows Interise to maximize the number of individuals and families they support, with programs in 73 cities across the nation.

After completing the Streetwise ‘MBA’™ program, small businesses help develop local economies to create financial security for families in lower income communities.

Goals & Results

Root Cause incubated and cultivated the growth of Interise until its spinoff in 2009.  Since 2004, Interise has worked with 6,000+ small businesses through the StreetWise ‘MBA’™ program. Interise began locally with Massachusetts-based businesses and has now expanded their curriculum to 75+ cities nationwide.

On average, Interise small businesses create jobs at eleven times the annual rate of the private sector.


Small businesses in the Interise network create jobs that pay about $61K annually – $10K (20%) more than the national average salary of $51K.


Three years after completing the program, businesses experience a 29% increase in job growth and a 48% increase in revenue growth.


In 2017 alone, 70% of Interise small businesses increased their annual revenues by an average of $399,600, with 80% of businesses retaining profitability.  

The success that Interise small businesses experience expands local economies and creates sustainable employment for individuals to support their families on a pathway to a healthy life.

Source:  Interise 2018 Impact Report


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About the Partner

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Interise supports diverse small business owners with entrepreneurial education, new networks, and access to markets. Using a structured curriculum, Interise’s StreetWise ‘MBA’™ provides small business owners with the business knowledge, management know-how, and the networks needed to grow established small businesses. They work to create an inclusive economy for all, where knowledge is shared in order to build trust and put people and relationships before profit.

Launched in 2004 by Root Cause and partners, Interise spun off as an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit organization in 2009.

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