Funding Business Dreams

Hosted By Lauren Conaway

InnovateHER KC

See All Episodes With Lauren Conaway

Shaundra Jacobs

Today's Guest: Shaundra Jacobs

Community Engagement Officer - DreamSpring

Houston, TX

Ep. #1228 - Funding Business Dreams

Today’s episode of Startup Hustle features Lauren Conaway and Shaundra Jacobs, Community Engagement Officer of DreamSpring, on funding business dreams. They discuss how Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) help marginalized communities build their businesses and create generational wealth. Gain valuable insights into building trust, fostering growth, and transforming communities through strategic financial support.

Covered In This Episode

Marginalized communities refer to people who historically lack access to institutions and opportunities, largely due to social exclusion. It may be due to gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, socioeconomic level, and disability status. DreamSpring seeks to tilt the scales in their favor. 

Lauren and Shaundra jump into Shaundra’s journey, leading her to DreamSpring. They discuss how clients should approach DreamSpring and what they say about it. The conversation turns to how CDFIs can help marginalized communities work with traditional financial institutions by building mutual trust.

Get Started with Full Scale

DreamSpring assists clients with technical aspects of their business plan, from inception to scaling, not necessarily funding. Shaundra recounts some of her favorite stories on the ripple effect of DreamSpring’s work with marginalized business owners. Lauren and Shaundra agree that even microloans can go a long way toward making business dreams come true. 

Dreams can come true with just a little help. Listen to this Startup Hustle episode to learn more about CDFIs.

Listen to Best Entrepreneurship Podcast in the US!


  • Shaundra’s journey (1:22)
  • DreamSpring (2:49)
  • Why go to CDFI (3:59)
  • What do clients say about DreamSpring (7:00)
  • How should clients approach DreamSpring (10:09)
  • Building trust in financial institutions for marginalized communities (15:37)
  • Funding for small businesses and entrepreneurs (21:45)
  • CDFIs are not geographically limited (22:18)
  • What should aspiring entrepreneurs bring when meeting with DreamSpring (23:09)
  • DreamSpring’s future plan (27:49)
  • What’s in the future for Shaundra (29:43)
  • Shaundra’s elevator pitch for CDFIs (31:30)
  • Community development and social justice (32:36)
  • What lesson would Shaundra teach her children (37:31)

Key Quotes

Sometimes, it is daunting for some entrepreneurs to go to a traditional bank because they think, Oh, I have to be pinned up and ready. But with a CDFI, like I stated, it is more to meet the person where they are. And if you’re not as buttoned up and polished, and you need a little bit more polishing, that’s where we come in, and we can help polish you.

– Shaundra Jacobs

One of the things that I love about CDFIs and community-based banking institutions is the fact that when you fund a small business owner in a historically marginalized community, that money, as it starts to grow, almost immediately goes back into that community.

– Lauren Conaway

Being transparent and saying I may not be able to help. That’s another thing in trust. I think people will promise you things and promise the community things that they know that they can’t do, right? If you can be transparent and say, Hey, I may not be able to do that. But I will figure out how I can get you help. And that is a part of that trust is bringing them the people who can help or provide them with the resources that they need.

– Shaundra Jacobs

Our goal is to just bring their dreams and get them to that point where they can start their business, be an entrepreneur and, grow and scale, and do amazing things for themselves, in their community, in their families. Generational wealth is always the key.

– Shaundra Jacobs

Sponsor Highlight

Build a product that gives value to your customers and increases your bottom line. But how? Take advantage of the expertise and experience of the Full Scale team of developers, testers, and leaders. If you’re interested, use the advanced recruitment platform for your convenience.

Don’t forget to check out our Startup Hustle partners. These organizations support the startup community and offer varied services for different businesses.

Rough Transcript

Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!

Lauren Conaway  0:01

And we are back. Thank you for joining us for yet another episode of the Startup Hustle podcast. I’m your host, Lauren Conaway, founder and CEO of InnovateHer KC. And I gotta tell you, friends, today’s episode of Startup Hustle is powered by Hiring software developers is difficult, but Full Scale can help you build a software team quickly and affordably. And they have the platform to help you manage that team. Visit to learn more. All right, friends, I think if you listen to my episodes of Startup Hustle by now, you know that I love, love, love, love, love talking about funding, and I love love, love, love talking to thought leaders in this space. Today, we have a guest, Shaundra Jacobs, community engagement officer for DreamSpring, and we’re going to be talking we’re going to be talking about a lot of stuff, I promise. But we’re going to be talking about funding and how do we engage communities who have been historically excluded. And in that process, and how do we? How do we do money equitably? So, Shandra, welcome to the show. We are so glad to have you. I’m so excited for this conversation.


Shaundra Jacobs  1:08

Hi, Lauren. It’s so wonderful to be here. And I’m so excited to have this discussion today.


Lauren Conaway  1:10

I know it’s gonna be so good. So, let’s hop right into it. And I’m just gonna, I’m gonna ask you the question. Here it comes. Tell us about your journey, Shaundra.


Shaundra Jacobs  1:22

So, my journey started, I am from Port Arthur, Texas, a small town but an hour and a half outside of Houston. And I really just want to get out. So I went to college at an HBCU, Prairie View A&M University, and did not know what I wanted to be tried to figure that out throughout college and just stumbled upon going into nonprofit space. And I found that I genuinely like helping people, and that is what I love to do. And I’ve been doing that for a little over five years now. And I’ve been with DreamSpring for about two years. And I found this space of helping people but also providing financing and also giving them tools to help grow their businesses. So I have just been so grateful to be a part of this organization and just finding my footing and just finding a space where I fit in. And it’s been wonderful.


Lauren Conaway  2:16

Well, so that’s absolutely fantastic. What I think strikes me most about your story is the fact that you it sounds like I’m checking my understanding here. It sounds like you find a lot of personal empowerment and joy, as you said, not just in helping people, but really, you’re helping people help themselves. You know, the parable, like if you teach a man to fish, that’s how that’s how you enact change, but you teach them how to fish for themselves. So, talk to us a little bit about how DreamSpring does that.


Shaundra Jacobs  2:49

So DreamSpring is a CDFI. I know a lot of people are not really aware of what a CDFI is. So it’s Community Development Funding Institution. So we’re a nonprofit organization with a mission. And our mission is to give access to business credit, provide loans, and enable underserved entrepreneurs. So we meet people where they are, sometimes people have amazing ideas of how they want their business to grow, but don’t know where to start. And for those people, that’s where a DreamSpring comes in. We’re here to help them start that and grow that and make their dreams become a reality.


Lauren Conaway  3:25

Well, I think that’s the thing. A lot of entrepreneurship is about dreams, we talk about that on the show a lot like the fact that as entrepreneurs, we’re problem solvers. But we always dream of, of what is possible. And that’s what I love about entrepreneurs. Now I want it I’m very curious because there’s a distinction between a CDFI and a more traditional financial institution like a bank or credit union or something like that. So, I want to, I want to kind of start with the 10,000 foot view, why go to a CDFI, over a more traditional financial institution.


Shaundra Jacobs  3:59

So, I think that sometimes is daunting for some entrepreneurs to go to a traditional bank because you think, Oh, I have to be been put been pinned up and ready. But with a CDFI, like I stated is more meet the person where they are. And if you’re not as buttoned up and polish, and you need a little bit more polishing, that’s where we come in, and we can help polish you. That’s how I do my role as an engagement officer, by providing technical assistance by providing that those steps and those nuances to get you ready for the traditional banks because they can be a little bit stricter with the rules and regulations that they have to do. Whereas with the CDFI, we can work with you and give you that extra step to be able to get that financing and then be able to pass you along to the traditional banks because they’re our partners as well. They’re here to help. But we’re here to start you and get because yeah, priority of startups, for sure. And


Lauren Conaway  4:55

so CDFI is one of the things that I know about CDFIs is they tend to serve socio-economically in in socio economically disadvantaged areas. And they tend to support historically marginalized founders and small business owners and entrepreneurs. And that it’s exactly as you say, like if you come from a background in or an environment where you’ve never had a strong relationship with that you were banker, if you come from an or from a background, where maybe you didn’t talk about business around the dining room table, if when you had dinner every night, you know, there’s a lot of knowledge transfer that has to happen between the community and these, these financial institutions, and the entrepreneur before you can even start talking about a loan, right? Because you have to have all of this data and you have to have credit history and what happens if maybe you don’t have great credit history, how do you establish that when no one will give you a chance? And so CDFIs are kind of at least my understanding of CDFI as a CDFIs are absolutely designed to come in bridge those gaps? How do we get people as you said, how do we get people ready for traditional financing methods? And how do we teach them the vernacular, give them the education that they need in order to do so compliantly efficiently? And really, it speaks to the long term financial health of these entrepreneurs that you’re serving? How do we get them started with a strong foundation, right?


And you got it right nail on the head? Because you were saying, you know, I think I got it, but no, you haven’t. Exactly right. Yeah, that is what. That’s what we’re here to do.


Okay. Well, so talk to us. I would I would love to hear now. Do you have any stories that you can share of entrepreneurs that you were able to help? I mean, you, you are the Community Engagement Officer. So I feel as though maybe you engage with the community? Yeah, just a tiny bit right there. So tell us, what are your, what are your customers, your clients saying?


Shaundra Jacobs  7:00

Okay, so one thing I can say is that not not only I am the Community Engagement Officer now, but I was previously a loan officer. So I was able to actually work with people one on one, and my favorite story is of a client. Her name is Taylor, Simone, she has this amazing business touching skin. And she was doing esthetician and massages during the pandemic. And you know, that was terrible, she had to pivot. And she says she dressed up in an outfit that was similar to the man on the moon, to make sure that she would go to people’s homes, and be able to, because you still need it, that that that touch that fill. And you know, people wanted to still have these services in the midst of a pandemic, and she was able to take a small business loan from us and grow her business. She started with a small space, and she was able to grow. And then she’s able to also employ people and get more people on her team. And we were able to take a tour of our facility and seeing how small she’s grown. And she was able to use funding to get Pedicure Spas. It’s one of the best stories that I have, because she was actually my client. And I saw how it impacted her life. It was amazing.


Lauren Conaway  8:10

Well, that’s really cool. And I think I mean, I’m sure that there are a lot of founders out there who I think we all know that the pandemic through so many of us for a loop, we had to stay agile, and we had to like it went from how do we you know, get more sales to how do we survive. Because most small business owners and entrepreneurs, they don’t have a lot of runway, you know, they’ve got maybe three months if they’re lucky to end. So and I mean, the pandemic stretched along lot, a lot longer than the economic ramifications stretched on longer than that. So, so having organizations that can step in, and help not I what I love about that story is not only did you help her bridge that gap, which was very necessary, but then she was able to turn that into future growth, you know, and I think that that’s really cool. That when we talk about access to capital, that’s what we talk, I can’t tell you how many founders I talked to, and I’m sure that you get this a lot Shaundra but like, there are so many founders out there who are like, I talked to some financial institution, and they told me come to me when you’re further along. And it’s one of those things where it’s like, you what you don’t understand is we’re not gonna get further along, right,


Shaundra Jacobs  9:19

you have to get capital, like,


Lauren Conaway  9:23

we have to have money to make this work. And there are so few institutions out there that are willing and able, I mean, I do understand that often their backs are against the wall as well because they have stakeholders to, to answer to but there are so few institutions out there that are ready to take risks are able to take risks.


Shaundra Jacobs  9:44

Or able to take the risks. Yes, yeah. No. I mean


Lauren Conaway  9:47

it’s it’s just it’s a tough it’s a tough situation all the way around it. So I I love that you shared a customer story. One of the things that I am really, really interested in is the process. Can you talk to us about like, give us some tips or tell us how your clients engaged with you. When they come to you, what are they asking for? And how specifically can you help them?


Shaundra Jacobs  10:09

So it could be from someone who just needs help with the business plan, from just inception all the way to somebody that could be in business for years, I can take time with them to just understand exactly what their needs are. Because sometimes capital is not necessarily the answer. Sometimes the answer may be you need the resources, or you need just a better understanding of how to grow and scale your business. You may be able to bootstrap in your eyes yourself and just figure out how to tweak it. But if you know you need the capital, we can see exactly how we can get you to that, that point. And it depends on where you are and how your business is going. And just getting that understanding that’s where we can reach them.


Lauren Conaway  10:53

Yeah. Well, and one of the things that I think it’s really important to note is that when you are working with historically marginalized communities, one of the really we talk about the growth of generational wealth, right? Why we like we talked about that on Startup Hustle, I talked about that around InnovateHer KC but I want to kind of set the stage here. The fact is, if you have if your family has not owned property has not accumulated assets has not been able to, because of systemic barriers that they experienced along the way. If you are dealing with that, what happens is an exponential gap starts to build because as generations amass more in historically, we would see whole families just over generations build up all of this wealth, and it all kind of started with, do you own your house? Or do you do you own your your own business? Or like these things that we kind of attached to material access? Do you have them? And in historically marginalized communities? The answer is usually no. And if you don’t have a strong foundation to build on, you build nothing. And so that we’re kind of sitting at a time right now, we’re at least turning our attention to this general generational wealth generation, the inequity gaps that come around as a result of that. But one of the things that I love about CDFIs and community based banking institutions is the fact that when you when you fund a small business owner in a historically marginalized community, that money as it starts to grow, almost immediately goes back into that community Exactly. From taxes, from employment, from, you know, services and goods that were maybe being offered g where they have not been offered geographically, like, you know, are you are you starting up a grocery store in a, in a food desert, you know, things like that. And so there’s a lot of power, and getting in really, really early stage and helping these entrepreneurs and small business owners and grow their businesses. Right. So I wanted to talk to you about the community lens. How, how have you seen the ripple effects of dream spraying and the funding that you offer impact whole communities and neighborhoods?


Shaundra Jacobs  13:10

Yes. It’s, it’s crazy. We’ve done these amazing client stories, and you’re exactly right. The funding that we give, it’s a direct impact in this into one family, and then that also impacts the community around them. And you see that that trickle down effect of okay, well, this community is able to provide the funds, we have different farmers and, you know, they’re able to provide food, I actually went to take a tour with a facility in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where they only had one grocery store within the north side of that community. And you see that impact of how just this helps because they were they discussed also the obesity rates change. Because if you don’t have the access to a grocery store, your obesity rates change the health changes the age of people that the average death changes, these are impacts that are concrete that you see, and if you make those changes, so I know at DreamSpring, we have funded so many people in different restaurants and different organizations to definitely extend our impact. So not just impacting that one person but saying, Okay, well, our small businessman was also able to employ people that’s also helping your community. I’m employing the service-based businesses.


Lauren Conaway  13:10

So if you’ve done a restaurant, that means that you are you are funding the business owner who is then able to trickle down and fund their employees.


Shaundra Jacobs  14:41

Exactly. And that is what it’s all about making sure that people have a good living for themselves and able to, you know, be able to provide for their families and do more. All of those things come into play with the small business loans and even with us as micro loans. It’s our average size is about 312,000, but 13,000 to someone can make an astonishing. Yeah, people


Lauren Conaway  15:08

are just now moving beyond the point where we’re like $500. Yeah.


Shaundra Jacobs  15:14

That can do a lot for someone, especially someone with tenacity. And we have these clients that have this tenacity, and this grind of just say, that hustle mentality of saying, I could turn that 500 into more, and then we give you more once you pay that back, then we can keep it going until you grow. And then we scale you to a million dollar business. That’s the goal is to get you to that space.


Lauren Conaway  15:36

Yeah, exactly. Well, so one of the things that I do want to ask you, I kind of want to talk to you a little bit about trust, because something that I have found and I like, this is totally anecdotal, I have no like data to back me up. But like something that I have found and noticed is that historically marginalized communities and let’s just be real here, black and brown communities is typically what we’re talking about when we’re talking. I mean, you know, sometimes when I speak about it, I’m like women and you know, marginalized peoples. But right now, I’m talking about black and brown communities, I want to be very abundantly clear. So one of the things that I have noticed is that there’s there’s sometimes a historic sense of very well earned mistrust in institutions. You know, I mean, there’s, we’ve talked on the show about the fact that in black and brown communities, often there’s a distrust of the medical community. Because think about why, like, historically, the medical community has exploited black and brown people. And we see that so it is well earned mistrust,


Shaundra Jacobs  16:40

Right. It’s still going on to this day with the black economy, right of mothers, like it’s quite


Lauren Conaway  16:45

so so we’re gonna go ahead, we’re gonna accept that as facts, the data prove it proves it time and time again. And the same can be said around financial institutions. I mean, financial institutions, not historically been known to be super supportive as black and brown


Shaundra Jacobs  16:58

red lining.


Lauren Conaway  17:01

Like infrastructure. This is what we talk about when we talk about systemic oppression. That’s what it is that it’s it happened, then it’s happening now. And so you’re actually representing a admittedly different model, but still a financial institution in communities that are might be unfamiliar or even, like, distrustful. So I want to talk to you about that. Like, I know that DreamSpring does a really amazing job, as you said, meeting your people where they are, but talk to us about how you built trust within the communities that you serve.


Shaundra Jacobs  17:35

So we found and I have a colleague, Megan, that she’s in Colorado, I’m in Texas, but we cover a large span. What we learned is trust is imperative. And it’s also built, being a part of the community, I am so heavily involved in the community around me. And when people see you consistently, and you build that trust, by actually being there, a lot of the times people drop the ball, by not answering calls or emails or being available or accessible, or even being friendly, let’s just be honest. You have to show yourself friendly and being available to say, I can help you and actually following through with that. And that’s something that I pride myself on with drinks, when they get allow me that space to be available to people and make sure that, you know, when I do different workshops or panels, and I give my information that I’m available to every person there and just tell them like what we can do and how we can help. And also being transparent and saying I may not be able to help. That’s another thing in trust, I think people will promise you things and promise the community things that they know that they can’t do, right? If you can be transparent and say, Hey, I may not be able to do that. But I will figure out how I can get you help. And that is a part of that trust is bringing them the people who can help or providing them with the resources that they need. Even if you can’t, and say well, DreamSpring did help. They did try their best, and they got me to someone that could help me. And that’s, I think that’s how you build the best trust with people.


Lauren Conaway  19:01

You know what I love about every single thing that you just said, like I as you’re speaking I was just like that, that was the strategy with InnovateHer, my organization, like I was like, Look, you know, I know that if we’re going to be an inclusive organization, and that’s what we’re going to champion like, I have to show up I have to build trust with the with these human beings who might not like they look at me and I don’t look, think and act like them. And like I you know, I’ve got to earn this and like, I think that what you said is absolutely true. People People need a champion, and people need someone that they can they can turn to. And as long as you just keep doing that work and keep showing up. You can’t go wrong, you know? And I’ve learned I’ve screwed up many times on the journey. I know I have we I do. Yeah, but like the intention is there and at the very least people know that. I’m gonna give it my best shot. Right, exactly. And I feel like that’s that’s kind of dream springs II Though as well, like you’re gonna get your best shot, we’re gonna do everything we can to help you and get you positioned for success.


Shaundra Jacobs  20:07

Exactly. Definitely. That is the goal. And I love the organization for that they are always making sure that we show up for people, and we do everything we can for our clients.


Lauren Conaway  20:18

Well, I adore that. And of course, I tend to love organizations that are all about building that trust and building relationships around teams. And one of those companies that I love is Full Scale. Finding experts, software developers doesn’t have to be difficult, especially when you visit full where you can build a software team quickly and affordably. Use the Full Scale platform to define your technical needs. And then see what available developers, testers, and leading leaders are ready to join your team. Head to to learn more. Friends, we are here today and we are talking we’re talking about DreamSpring, we’re talking about funding. We’re talking, we’re talking to Shaundra Jacobs, Community Engagement Officer for DreamSpring. And we’ve we’ve kind of talked about it through the funding through the community lens through the community development, financial institution, community development, financial institutions. You have changed it to CDFI. That’s a lot.


Shaundra Jacobs  21:20

We missed it up to and I work here. So I promise.


Lauren Conaway  21:23

That doesn’t make me feel just so much better like that. But a CDFI. That’s what DreamSpring is. And I have to ask you. So I feel like maybe the name was inspired by what you hope to do, which is spring entrepreneurs and small business owners into their dreams. Is that accurate?


Shaundra Jacobs  21:44

That is very accurate. That is very accurate. And that’s what we’re doing every day is making sure that people dreams come true. I recently was at an event and they were like, oh, we can’t necessarily fund somebody if they haven’t worked in this space. And we’re like, it’s a lot of people that have amazing ideas. And they may have not done it before, but it’s their dream. So that’s what our goal is to just bring their dreams and get them to that point where they can start their business, be an entrepreneur and grow and scale and do amazing things for themselves, in their community, in their families. Generational wealth is always the key.


Lauren Conaway  22:17

Yeah, well, so CDFI is I and I’m, I’m gonna make a statement. And I don’t know how accurate it is. But we’re gonna see we’re gonna we’re gonna work through it together. Shaundra. So CDFIs I believe they tend to be fairly geographically limited, like they they tend to serve the neighborhoods and the zip codes around them. Is that Is that an accurate statement? Can you find CDFI is that served nationwide or service? Definitely. Okay,


Shaundra Jacobs  22:47

so yeah, so we, we started in New Mexico, but we’re in 27 states, and there are multiple different CDFIs. Some are nationwide, some are smaller, just dependent on their organization. But we can go since 1994. And we serve the whole state, I am a part of everything. I’m located in Texas. So I’ve traveled all around, we serve everyone in this state.


Lauren Conaway  23:09

Okay, well, so I love that. And I think like the the larger point that I wanted to make was, Hey, friends, if you are interested in starting a business. If you are looking to if you have that great business idea, but you’re not sure where to start, usually, you need to have a little bit, at least a little bit of money to put your business idea together, definitely check into CDFIs. And see, see which ones will work for you. I encourage you if you’re in the service area reach out to DreamSpring. But But Shandra, what I want to ask you is for the founders out there who might be thinking of alternative ways to find funding or figuring out how to get started on their business journey. What are some tips that you can give them like what do you need to see it DreamsSpring for you to be able to help an aspiring entrepreneurs small business owner?


Shaundra Jacobs  23:58

So like, first things first business plan. Have your plan together and ready and available to show exactly what you’re doing it. I think people think, Oh, I’ve been doing it so long. This is what I do. No, write that out. That’s the first thing. And then also show, hey, this is what it takes to build it. Think about the people that sell your product or who are in the same space with you. Because we do want to know like, Okay, how competitive is it? Is this a space we want to be a part of and depending on the space, we may not be able to help if it’s something to do with smoking or anything like that. We can’t necessarily help.


Lauren Conaway  24:36

I feel like that makes sense.


Shaundra Jacobs  24:39

But ya know, that’s a little caveat. We try to help everyone and I do know that that’s a huge space, but we can’t necessarily lend there. Sure. But also make sure that you have your finances in order have even we talked about traditional banks and sometimes being afraid of it, but we also have to think about you have have a bank account and go to those banks and make sure you have steady finances, and you know, get those things together in an order and have your taxes done. That’s also a part of it, those are the things that we want you to have together. So we can just look at everything because these things are needed to be able to determine if we’re able to lend


Lauren Conaway  25:18

Yeah, for sure. So what when, when entrepreneurs or when they come to you, and you say, We want you to have a business plan, like a very clear, so you talked about competitors, like you’re gonna want to know, have a pretty good grasp of what your competitors are up to, if you have competitors, how you how you’re different. When we’re talking about financials, you know, yeah, you definitely want to make sure that you have your tax returns available. And gosh, hopefully, you have been paying your required amount of


Shaundra Jacobs  25:46

No one wants to owe the IRS.


Lauren Conaway  25:49

I mean, let’s let’s cross our fingers. But you know, what are so so when we’re talking about financials definitely have that available, what are some other things that you would need to have, you’re gonna have need to have bank statements. So in order to get a bank account, unless you’re doing a DBA account, I believe you have to have your, your EIN or your federal tax ID number, so you’re just gonna have that you’re gonna want to set it up like you like, like a real live business, because that’s what you’re trying to get to. Right, any, any other. Any other tips like who should they be reaching out to? That’s a good.


Shaundra Jacobs  26:25

So your SBA, your score, I think people don’t know, I’ve had people pay for resources and these resources are free, they’re out there and available to you. They have all of these programs to help start your business if you go to your local SBDC. So that’s your Small Business Development Corporation, they are there to be able to assist just the first steps. And they have things like bookkeeping and knowing how to do your accounting, they have all these different programs, and even just search in your area, like small business development in your city. So if you’re on Kansas City, put that in. And you can get a myriad of different people who actually do those things. I tell people that we have Google, and I think that we forget, Google was there and it is so many different things and put free in there. Because a lot of people aren’t given a lot of services for free to help you get your business because you can even as chatty, chatty, I love chat AI, down it too heavily. But just to let you know, what are the top things that I need to start a business but help me out? It’s great.


Lauren Conaway  27:29

I know we actually we actually like to ChatGPT around here. So we’re, I use it. Sometimes I don’t tell anybody I told you this. But sometimes I use it to create social media posts when I’m like super tired and just don’t feel like it. Like I’ll put it, tweak it like I mean,


Shaundra Jacobs  27:46

personalization to it. But I’ll say, emojis.


Lauren Conaway  27:49

sure somebody like to point me in a direction because I don’t even I’m so tired. I don’t know where to go. Right. Yeah, totally understand, utilize the free tools out there. And you say you mentioned score mentors. I actually work with them periodically. I love that isolation. Yeah. But they offer free one on one mentoring services to folks who are looking to start a business. Here in the Kansas City area, we have KC Sourcelink. And they have a really impressive resource rail, where it kind of lists out all of the nonprofits and entrepreneurial support organizations that you can go to for specific help in launching, scaling, building, like everything from inception to exit, they’re there to help you out. So there are definitely a lot of resources out there that you can avail yourself of. Yeah, so thank you for that. So I’m curious. And I, I’m aware that you might not be able to share some of this. But I am curious about DreamSprings future. So you mentioned the fact that like, did you say you were in 22 different markets or 22 Different money


Shaundra Jacobs  28:53

27 states, and we’re always 28 soon, and the goal is to get to 50 and be nationwide. That is our goal for next year.


Lauren Conaway  29:02

Do you have any dreams for international expansion?


Shaundra Jacobs  29:05

Do you know what a lady but let’s get to our 50. But I’ve actually met with somebody who had an amazing product from overseas. And I was like, Oh, I would love to do that because there’s so many different people that you want to be able to help and grow. And it would be amazing.


Lauren Conaway  29:22

Yeah, that would be really cool. And well, and I mean, honestly, like in certain markets. One of the things that I love is that like $5 wouldn’t go very far here but there, but $5 would be like, Okay, I’m rich now. That was all I needed. With inflation, maybe $5 is


Shaundra Jacobs  29:40

a little maybe maybe


Lauren Conaway  29:43

for being like, it’s not going to take quite as much capital to get a position can be really, really interesting. Also, how about you what are you’ve been with this organization for a little while now and your. What are your future plans?


Shaundra Jacobs  29:59

You know what I found a space, I actually love what I do at never thought I’d get here, you know, we have this idea like, Oh, I just want to work a job, but the impact, and I just see myself growing in this role and just moving forward, engagement has been amazing and being able to touch people’s lives. Even in my personal life, I love to support small businesses, I tell people all the time, you know, if you can try to go small, because you’re impacting somebody’s life, someone that they’re going to their household and helping build. So I love what I do. And I just see myself growing more in this role of representing DreamSpring for years to come.


Lauren Conaway  30:39

I love that, do you have any dream collaborations or partnerships that you would ever want to work with? I mean, you are the Community Engagement Person. So I’m going to assume that you have a pretty good handle on what kinds of things are out there.


Shaundra Jacobs  30:53

You know, I really have been doing a great job with connecting with so many people. And I just see the you know what, when you have these genuine relationships with organizations, it just becomes more fruitful. And people just introduce me. So I’m just open to whatever is out there. Because I know that what what our mission is, and what we represent is going to just grow. And I’m just so excited no matter what room I get in, I’m always available to just spread exactly what we do here at DreamSpring and what CDFIs do in general, just not us. But across the board of yeah, we’re helping and who we’re serving, you know,


Lauren Conaway  31:30

Do you come up against people? Well, I’m, I’m sure that you do. But do you come up against people who don’t know what a CDFI is? And like, you have to kind of explain him? And they’re just like, that sounds really weird. Right? And just a little bit about that.


Shaundra Jacobs  31:43

Right? I always tell people, I have to have an elevator pitch about CDFIs. You know, we are community development funding institution, we’re here to help the underserved market, and I’m here to engage and come and give you that assistance to help your small business grow. Oh, I have my, my speech ready. Because


Lauren Conaway  32:01

it right out of that back pocket there. You were like, Here you go.


Shaundra Jacobs  32:05

I’m ready to explain what I do every day. And, and I love that, you know, people are like, Oh, I wish I knew that this was available. So many people have done businesses and they didn’t even know that we had organizations, such as mine, that were available to them. So once I tell them and I’m like, Well, I know you know someone if you’ve already became successful, help the next person, help them get to that next step. And I know you know, someone that may not be ready for the traditional side, but they know they may need a little bit more help. Come to us, we’ll be able to get you to that next step. Yeah.


Lauren Conaway  32:36

Well, and I’m curiously I kind of about the whole landscape. So I feel like the the murder of George Floyd, I feel like that kicked off what had been simmering under the surface of America and like sometimes not even under the surface like, like very outrightly wrong and hostile. But like, there was something simmering in the air of America in the murder of George that it kicked off a lot of introspection, a lot of fighting like it was I feel like it was a very transformative moment in our history. Definitely. Because it got us thinking about or at least it got many people who had never had to think about privilege and inequity and systemic oppression and injustice like it. No, so many people had never had to think about that. And then all of a sudden they were being forced to think about it in their face every day. Well, and it and I personally like that it actually exhilarated me. But like, I understand that. It was it was a big change for a lot of people. And so I think one of the things that came out of that, that I don’t necessarily think is a bad thing. Although I would never say that. The murder of anybody is a good thing. But perspectives came out of it. Right? Exactly. Right. Like people were suddenly examining things that they had never examined before. And we started having these conversations about not not just not just you know, violence, but we were talking about very like cerebral philosophical things. And we were talking about access to capital and wage gaps and put us in a bubble of everything that we do. And so I feel like CDFIs are having a moment now like this is the time CDFIs tends to serve underserved historically underserved communities. That is their purpose that is their Why are you finding that over the course of time? Are you getting less pushback? Are you getting people who are more willing to discuss these ideas and discuss your your mission and your purpose? Are you seeing more CDFI spring up like have we kicked into a new era a new era? Yeah, that’s it. Yes. That was it. Perfect way to put it right.


Shaundra Jacobs  35:01

It is time to get there. But I’m, I got you, I’m here for you. But no, it is a definite era. I mean, we’ve all a lot of those CDFIs have been around for years. And I think that it didn’t kick off a different discussion. Definitely. After that happened. And then I just think also with technology and then PPP happened after the pandemic. I think those things aligned at the same time because George Floyd and pandemic, everything just combusted, and all


Lauren Conaway  35:31

came together at the same time. Right. Now we have to put it back together, but we have to do it unless we have a stronger right to do it like non racist Lee and not exogenous Stickley, and like,


Shaundra Jacobs  35:46

right? It’s just, and that’s the thing, we’re here and we shouldn’t have to be here. Honestly, we do have to be here,


Lauren Conaway  35:54

you’re an answers your very real data problem.


Shaundra Jacobs  35:59

And it’s going to take so long for us to really transform our country and the culture and the thought process, because some people don’t understand why we’re needed. And they don’t, they don’t have the statistics to show them like this is something that’s been happening. And we’re here to dismantle it. And that’s what we’re here to do. Almost, you know, where my mind went with with with all of this is like Pleasantville, like you live in this black and white. And then you start seeing color. Maybe I’ve aged myself, but it was one of my favorite. Oh,


Lauren Conaway  36:29

incidentally. So apparently, you and I are around the same age because I’ve seen pleasant. But one of the things that’s really impactful about it is like you have you have you have a whole town of people. I’m not giving away any spoilers, it’s right there. We are kind of, you know, in in Pleasantville, like you have people who are very much accustomed to one way of life, and then all of a sudden once they’re exposed to something else. There’s no going back, kind of. And that’s where we’re at right now, a


Shaundra Jacobs  36:58

great point, though, is poignant about that. Yeah. There’s no turning back. But do you want to turn back, you don’t want to look anymore? Now that you’re here? Let’s move forward. And let’s grow from here. Exactly. Yeah.


Lauren Conaway  37:12

Well, I think I love that. And I actually really, really excited. So because I’m about to ask you the human question, and I found a good one. Okay, so first things first, I don’t actually know this. Do you have children?


Shaundra Jacobs  37:28

I have two, six, and 11-year-old.


Lauren Conaway  37:30

Okay, so I’m going to make this specific to your two kids. If you could teach only one thing to your two children, what would that be?


Shaundra Jacobs  37:41

One thing. Really, it is this component of finance. And honestly, I like it if I can just really teach a lesson. Because what I don’t want them to do is be in debt. I want them to be in such a good space where they can do for their children and my future grandchildren. That is something that has been on my mind. And I think that that is the one thing that I want to make sure that my kids go into the world, understanding how to do their finances and how to grow and, be able to be wealthy. And that’s just one less stress. We have a lot of stresses, but one of them can be money.


Lauren Conaway  38:21

I like that well. And I love the fact that there’s such a throughline from what you do to what you want to the wisdom you want to impart to you, like you’re living your purpose, girl.


Shaundra Jacobs  38:31

I love that. You can do it. I’m so happy that I can.


Lauren Conaway  38:35

Yeah, for sure. Well, hey, Shaunda, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us today. It has been it’s been fun. I’ve gotten really passionate it points like apologies that I was throwing it my emotion at you. But I had fun.


Shaundra Jacobs  38:47

I had fun, too.


Lauren Conaway  38:48

Okay. So another way that you can have fun, my friends, is you can actually get the burden of trying to find qualified tech talent off your own plates. If you need to hire software engineers, testers, or leaders, Full Scale can help. They have the people in the platform to help you build and manage a team of experts. When you visit, all you need to do is answer a few questions and then let the platform match you up with fully vetted, highly experienced software engineers, testers, and leaders. At Full Scale, they specialize in building long-term teams that work only for you. Learn more when you visit or check the link in the show notes. And friends, I’m gonna feel like I’m beating a dead horse here. But I always want to say this at the end of the show. So one of the things that we want from you is fabulous listeners. We want your feedback. This is a show by founders for founders, we want to know what topics you want us to cover. We want to know what guests you want to hear from. So I’m going to ask you if you have a great idea for us: burning a hole in your back pocket, take it out, showing it to the air, and handing it over to us you can go to Also, check the show notes for that link. Or you can Hit us up on social we’re on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Tok. Look for us under Startup Hustle or Startup Hustle podcast, but let us know what you want to hear because that’s what we want to deliver to you. We are so, so grateful that you come back to us week after week and listen to us share founder stories from across the world, and we’re very grateful to you for that. We will catch you next time.