Dayton Driven connects mom&pop shops with volunteer consultants

May 12, 2020

Dayton Driven is a nonprofit dedicated to connecting small business owners to pro-bono consultants and microloans while providing volunteer opportunities for young professionals seeking to make a difference in their community.

Founder Vishal Dasari was inspired to start Dayton Driven by the residents of struggling Dayton neighborhoods who he met as a medical student.

“Dayton has neighborhoods that are struggling to catch up with others. If we can support the small businesses in those communities, we can help the community as well,” he said. “A lot of good can be done through microfinance in the city.”

Vishal reached out to Jake Current, Mike Brill & Josh Sprague, friends he knew through Generation Dayton and Greater Dayton Young Democrats. They launched the 501(c)3 in January 2019.

“It was an opportunity to impact those small businesses that have been neglected in Dayton,” Jake Current recalled. “It was a cool, different idea, to help those mom&pop shops who are trying to better their community, not just by giving someone ideas, but by helping them through operation.”

The team pulled knowledge from diverse day jobs — healthcare, finance, government, marketing & process improvement — with the goal to create a sustainable organization through which 90 percent or more of funding goes directly to clients.

The archetypal client is a small business owner who has been operating a few years and is either struggling to take the next step or has hit economic difficulty, Vishal said. The clients’ industries so far have varied, from a restaurant to a thrift store to a graphic designer.

When a client approaches Dayton Driven, the board discusses the case and pairs the business owner with a volunteer consultant — either a board member, or a young professional or graduate student with expertise in a field who is looking to flex their consulting muscles.

“Hearing the stories is my favorite part,” Jake said. “The clients are diverse, but the stories have a common theme of looking for opportunity to take control of their lives and prosperity. People are trying to create things their community can be proud of.”

“You can have an economic impact fast,” Vishal said. “The more you put in, the more you get out.”

Vishal is currently stepping down from his Executive Director role as he plans the move for his impending residency. Stay tuned for updates on leadership changes and find ways you can get involved with Dayton Driven here. You can also connect on Facebook, Linked In and at [email protected].