Traditional unemployment, in most cases, is not really a choice. The young adult doesn’t get a chance to explain that their record comes from a petty drug offense, the single parent can’t find someone to watch the kids, the aging but loyal worker loses a manufacturing job to a machine. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could employ themselves?
The reality is that running a small business in the US is scary. Our prospective entrepreneur wanted one job but now has many – accounting, marketing, procurement, sales, day-to-day operations, and more. There is pressure from competition, big and small. Personal obstacles can include lack of savings, lack of free time, poor credit scores, little formal education, and no business connections. It may take years to be profitable.
It’s an endeavor that takes a special kind of drive, often inspired by a chance at a better life or creating change in the local community. A little guidance can take this energy a long way. Through collaborations like the LEAF Technical Assistance Program (L-TAP), entrepreneurs receive expert consulting on ways to access capital, navigate paperwork and bureaucracy, connect with incubators, and more.
Meet Bostoners at varied stages of the entrepreneurial process:
A 1997 refugee originally from Cameroon, she decided to build a business around her traditional cooking style. After completing the leg work of setting up her company, she needed to scale production. A loan from microfinancing site Kiva funded a commercial blender, with the support of LEAF and CommonWealth Kitchen.
FFG’s founders were both inspired by their volunteer work at The Food Project of Roxbury. Their farm-to-street healthy food business sparked a lot of buzz, and now includes a truck, café, and catering, creating 8 new jobs. When their food truck broke down, a loan from LEAF helped finance the repair. Thanks to steady growth they are projected to break even in 2017! Keep up with their social media.