Ann Arbor, MI – The Book Industry Charitable (Binc) Foundation is launching BincTank, a bookstore business incubator pilot program to support entrepreneurs from historically underrepresented communities who are interested in opening or expanding book retail services. Applications for the first cohort will be accepted in early 2024.
“Reading is the foundation for life’s opportunities,” said Binc Executive Director Pam French. “Bookstores, like libraries, are vital educational and cultural hubs that house the knowledge communities need to thrive. That is why Binc believes every community deserves their bookstore and has established BincTank to increase equity in store ownership.”
The program will use five areas of focus—capital, education, mentorship, peer-to-peer networking and resource material—to help participants create an attractive business concept, establish a strong organization, build lasting customer and community relationships, and maintain profitable operations.
Research finds that minority entrepreneurs are up to three times more likely to have a loan application denied and only 58% of Black business owners sought professional services due to expense, inaccessibility and mistrust, compared to 70% of white business owners. BincTank will help remove known barriers for BIPOC entrepreneurs—such as limited access to capital, peer-to-peer business networks, and investments needed.
Known as the organizational safety net for booksellers, Binc was approached by key stakeholders in the book industry to assist with closing the diversity gap in bookstore ownership. “We’ve spent the last few years doing research to confirm Binc is the best organization to lead
this critical community work,” said French. “We want to thank the first round of funders, without whom we could not have identified the beginning steps of the solution. We are now well positioned to make it happen.” Strategic Growth Group, a mission-driven organization with expertise in developing innovative and pragmatic business strategies, conducted the research and early funding was provided by Abrams, American Booksellers Association, HarperCollins Publishers, Litographs, and Macmillan Publishers.
The pilot phase of the program will run for three years and will be spearheaded by Ken White, BincTank’s program manager. White has been a member of Binc’s board of directors, as well as the board of the American Booksellers Association and other organizations both within and outside the book industry. He has managed bookstores large and small; specialty (LGBTQ) and general; for-profit and nonprofit; and he has lived experience as a Queer or Trans Person of Color (QTPOC) identified bookseller.
While the pilot program will initially support bookstores and book retail outlets operated by historically underrepresented entrepreneurs in communities impacted by systemic racism, BincTank plans to open to all marginalized groups after the pilot program has been evaluated. Binc encourages all BIPOC entrepreneurs interested in opening book stores in their community to apply.
“We look forward to seeing engaged entrepreneurs in the tank,” said White. “There are no sharks here, just safety nets.”
To learn more go to https://www.bincfoundation.org/binctank/. Those interested in supporting Binc and its programs can donate here. For information on becoming a funder for BincTank, please contact Kathy@bincfoundation.org. For more information on the program, contact Ken@bincfoundation.org.