Entrepreneurs are usually a very giving bunch. I was recently talking with a a young entrepreneur about a workshop she had attended. Although she could not remember the content of the workshop she enthusiastically recounted stories of the other entrepreneurs she had met and how generous they were in helping her get started in her business. One person offered some used office furniture she was getting rid of. Another referred her to a talented graphic artists. Others contacts and advice helped this women jump start her business. It was not long before she was returning the favors and becoming a mentor herself.
Those of us on the community side of entrepreneurship, need to think about how we can foster these networks of reciprocity. Using terms from the Open Source Economic Development model, how do we create Quality Connected Places where entrepreneurs can bump into one another? Not every community can build an incubator. Can Entrepreneurship Networks be effectively fostered by a third party or do they need to emerge organically? How do we do this across a wider economic region as well as the corner coffee shop?
Fortunately, there are lots of experiments going on and we're learning quickly about what can work and what doesn't.