The Microenterprise Acceleration Program (MEAP) is a grant initiative sponsored by Hewlett-Packard’s Philanthropy and Education Division that targets nonprofit microenterprise development agencies that serve clients in low-income communities. The goal of the program is to make these agencies more efficient and effective and assist them in providing their clients with access to technology and associated training to optimize its use. BCT Partners, through a subcontract with the Association for Enterprise Opportunity, served as the economic development planning and information technology solutions provider for this important initiative.
Through this contract, BCT Partners conducted initial site visits to each of the program grantees, performed an organizational and technology assessment, prepared and submitted a strategic plan, worked with HP staff to select and ship the recommended equipment to the grantees, and conducted follow-up site visits to install, test, train and support agency staff in business process reengineering and the effective use of the HP-donated products.
To facilitate effective communications between the geographically dispersed grantees, Hewlett-Packard, the Association for Enterprise Opportunity, and BCT Partners staff, BCT developed data management and communications systems based on a Microsoft solution. This multi-functional portal featured a user-friendly interface, a restricted-access area for each grantee that limits their views to data and documents relevant to their grant program, a restricted-access area for HP and contractor staff that allowed access to all information, data retrieval functionality that allowed for simplified data compilation and analysis, a discussion board, a picture gallery, calendar features and a helpdesk. The solution also serves as an intranet for BCT Partners to management the project team’s information management and communication.