In an effort to support local businesses and our local economy, Stablegold Hospitality (SGH) will be renewing funding for Atlanta West Ends' Micro-enterprise Entrepreneur Program this year.
The program was founded by Mark Newman as part of an initiative for Atlanta West End's Rotary Club, of which he has been a member since 2014, in partnership with Atlanta Technical College. It provides struggling entrepreneurs with support, education, resources and financial assistance to start up and/or revitalize their small businesses. "I knew from my experience working with businesses in Atlanta that no one is servicing the micro business segment. There's a huge wealth gap in Atlanta. You're either a struggling or very successful business," explains Newman, who learned about the idea from a fellow Rotarian in the Detroit club.
Funding for the program is needed now more than ever, as small businesses and entrepreneurs across America feel the tightening grips of Covid-19 ropes all around them. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the number of job losses resulting from the pandemic could easily exceed 20 million in less than six weeks. This means millions of Americans will be unemployed and looking for alternative sources of income through startups and side hustles. Not only will emerging entrepreneurs need to stretch their creative hats to understand the needs of our new landscape, they will also need to generate startup capital, somehow while being unemployed, to infuse their new ideas.
In order to receive a loan, an applicant would have to complete the programs' core components, which include:
- Education - completion of an eight week course in business at Atlanta Technical College.
- Mentoring - attend a series of meetings with a mentor that they are matched up with to learn from for approximately one year
- Peer group meetings - attend meetings with other participants of the program to discuss business challenges and how they can leverage each others' experiences to overcome these challenges
Danielle Carney, a graduate of the program, found the program helped her in many ways. "With the help of my peers, I learned a lot about how to juggle the many hats we have to wear as an entrepreneur - legal, accounting, marketing, etc" said Carney. She believes the program would be ideal for small businesses struggling to find their way in the post-Covid19 climate. "It could definitely help generate ideas and create the connections one needs to keep their business afloat after a recession," said Carney. "Small businesses need to find ways to reinvent their services. It helps to talk through these ideas with your peers and mentors."
SGH CEO also believe it's an opportune time for the program. "Despair can be infectious but so can hope," said Jamal. "Another aspect of the program I really respect is how it's giving people a hand up, versus a hand out," he added. "It's fully aligned with our core values."