Enterprise for Equity, a South Puget Sound Microenterprise Initiative

Enterprise for Equity Entrepreneur TrainingMay 1, 2017 I attended a one hour orientation meeting at the Mason County Economic Development Council offices featuring a FREE program for Mason County residents who are interested in starting their own small businesses. The program is conducted by Enterprise for Equity, a South Puget Sound Microenterprise Initiative. Thanks to a grant from the Washington Department of Commerce, Enterprise for Equity is offering their complete course, spanning 12 brainstorming, training and networking sessions for FREE. This would ordinarily cost upward of $3,000.

Enterprise for Equity was inspired by the success of micro-loan programs in Bangladesh, by the Grameen Bank. founded in 1983 by 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus.  Mr, Yunus noticed that, while the men would most often be hired out to large corporate concerns, or even working as laborers overseas, the women back at home were making ends meet with various cottage industries. He was interested to see what these industrious village women could do with their homespun businesses if they had access to a small amount of capital. The results were amazing. He found that they not only built successful small businesses, but his rate of repayment versus default was higher than a normal business loan.

The founders of Enterprise for Equity were inspired by this tale of success and decided that such a program might be able to work even better in a country with more resources.  After attending a micro-credit summit in Washington DC, a core group of volunteers brought together 30 representatives of low-income serving agencies in the South Sound such as the Food Bank, Refugee and Immigrant Services Center, and Housing Authority to learn about the self-employment needs of the people they serve. Based on the information gathered from these social service organizations, the nonprofit Enterprise for Equity 501(c)3 was formed with the following mission:

“Our mission is to ensure that people with limited-incomes in the South Sound region have access to credit, technical assistance, training and support for small business development. These services are provided with the belief that people can and do transform their lives as they bring their strengths, initiative and dreams to their entrepreneurial efforts.”

The orientation was presented by Beth Henriguez, who is obviously a big believer in what she does. As she asked each attendee about their small business ideas, she listened intently, often offering support and encouragement for their ideas and suggesting resources that may be of use to them in the future.

There were only 4 of us in attendance: 2 would-be food truck operators and a lady who wanted to offer legal assistance for expat teachers helping with visa issues that arise when traveling between foreign countries.

I believe all three of the others registered for the program. I was really only there as an observer, but I found information on their website about an "Agri-preneur" program that I may just have to register for myself.

For more information, visit the Enterprise for Equity website at http://www.enterpriseforequity.org

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