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Be a Successful Street Vendor

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Be a Successful Street Vendor

Los Angeles Public Library

Workforce and Economic Development | 2023 | Top Innovator

Innovation Synopsis

The Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) built a mobile program for street vendors to learn business, digital and English-language skills to be successful business owners. LAPL worked with Cell-Ed to build micro-lessons that vendors can complete on a mobile phone. Lessons include basic Internet skills; business, sales, vending; and community safety.


Street vendors are often excluded from resources due to their lack of access and understanding of the formal systems to operate legal businesses in Los Angeles. The requirements to become a proprietor are new and complex and many vendors are monolingual Spanish-speakers with limited literacies. In working directly with the vendors, LAPL was able to build mobile, micro-learning units in response to vendor-identified needs to support their agency, knowledge and participation to become successful business owners.

Key Elements of Innovation

By incorporating street vendor dialogue and feedback, the units in Cell-Ed reflect their concerns about safety and need to understand elements of small business ownership like budgeting or pricing items to pay taxes. Digital literacy units help vendors create email addresses and navigate the Internet. Providing micro, mobile learning units via a smart or flip phone in easy-to-understand English and Spanish meets the Vendors where they are at and gives them a sense of agency in unfamiliar processes.

Achieved Outcomes

Data metrics of vendor participation in microlearning mobile units can be viewed via Cell-Ed’s portal and to date, more than 110 users have enrolled in these courses in Los Angeles, and more than 4,600 users have enrolled in them nationally. Positive feedback from vendors includes statements like, “It was a great course because we learn to keep track of expenses because many times we think we are making a good profit but it’s not true because we forget expenses,” and “I have a new mindset about keeping track of money.”