By Moody’s –

Small businesses are the backbone of the US economy. However, with recent uncertainty caused by COVID-19, many are struggling to stay afloat. Even in less turbulent times, entrepreneurs often lack insight into what their finances look like from day to day, how much cash they have on hand or whether they will be able to pay their bills on time. In fact, according to a March 2018 Preferred CFO study, 82% of business failures are a result of poor cash flow management.

One of Moody’s key CSR focus areas is empowering people with financial knowledge, which is why we made cash flow management the focus of a 2019 initiative for US entrepreneurs. This financial empowerment initiative was created in partnership with the Foundation for Small Business Development (FFSBD), the philanthropic arm of America’s Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs). It is the first initiative under Moody’s new Pathway to Prosperity program, which is part of our larger Reshape Tomorrow™ initiative. “Our ultimate goal is to help thousands of small business owners and employees to better manage their finances and secure their operations,” says Charles “Tee” Rowe, President and CEO of America’s SBDC. Click To Tweet

Through this inaugural initiative, we are providing support to the nearly 1,000 locations across the nationwide network of SBDCs. As Pathway to Prosperity continues to grow, this initiative and others like it will help deliver the resources and training that entrepreneurs need to overcome the challenges of growing a small business.

Teaching advisors, helping businesses flourish

The 2019 financial empowerment initiative provides business advisors with free resources, including training sessions, certifications and access to a software program designed to enable simple, powerful and predictive cash flow for businesses.

“Pathway to Prosperity is helping me help my clients understand a more intuitive way to work through their unique business needs and easily track finances,” says Chaimie Pewitt, former executive director of the Southern Colorado SBDC. “The training sessions help advisors like me support our clients with a range of useful resources.”

In 2019, Pathway to Prosperity held three in-person advisor sessions: the New England SBDC Professional Development Conference in May, America’s SBDC Annual Conference in September and the Virginia Professional Development Conference in November. Training sessions can also be hosted online, allowing even more advisors across the nation to take part as the program scales.

To date, 174 business advisors have been trained — 168 in person and six online. Business advisors who attended these sessions were then able to pass on the knowledge they received to their end clients, further extending the reach of these trainings.

Potential through partnership

As the economic landscape continues to shift in 2020, Moody’s and America’s SBDC will assess how we can best support small businesses. America’s SBDC is slated to host additional business advisor training sessions throughout the US, and we plan to roll out new advisor-led trainings to business owners. These upcoming sessions will focus on driving the adoption and use of cash flow management resources provided by the SBDC advisors who have been trained in the program.

“Our ultimate goal is to help thousands of small business owners and employees to better manage their finances and secure their operations,” says Charles “Tee” Rowe, president and CEO of America’s SBDC. “The ongoing partnership with Moody’s and FFSBD allows us to further develop innovative ways to serve the needs of the small business community and brings us one step closer to achieving this goal.”

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Established in 2002, Moody’s Foundation directs Moody’s corporate philanthropy and sponsors Moody’s employee giving programs that contribute to stronger communities – and a brighter future – for people around the world.

This article first appeared at csr.moodys.io.