VilCap:Start, in partnership with Social Enterprise@Goizueta and Emory University is launching a series of Village Capital programs designed to provide support and capital to small business owners from underserved communities around the world. With pilots designed to serve recent immigrant and refugee populations in Clarkston, GA, and indigenous populations in Hawaii, we are providing opportunity through the Village Capital model to entrepreneurs in communities where their success can have the greatest impact.
The Problem: Lack of support for small business owners from underserved populations
We believe the world is at an important crossroads. Urgent social and environmental issues, and economic injustice must be met with innovation, zeal, and constructive thinking. The next generation is talking about a different way of doing things – not on Wall Street, but on Main Street. The economic future of America rests, not upon our traditional financial-returns-at-all-cost approach, but through long lasting and sustainable job opportunities in enterprises that have a long-term constructive impact on our communities. We need to build capacity and inspire innovation in the communities that need the most support and have the most to gain. Immigrant entrepreneurs are founding almost 25% of new startups in the US, and yet many are not getting the help they need to get their ventures off the ground. Refugees, other immigrants, young entrepreneurs, minorities, and other under-served populations have a thriving entrepreneurial spirit but without the strategic networks and access to capital, their ideas are often left at the gate.
The solution: VilCap-Start provides opportunity for entrepreneurs through the power of peer support
We make it easier for micro entrepreneurs to grow their enterprises by harnessing the potent dynamics of peer-to-peer support to develop viable business concepts and fine-tune them for success. We build strategic networks to connect them to sources of legal, accounting, marketing, and banking expertise and capital – both human and financial. We make it easier for providers of capital, by curating qualified opportunities and presenting them rigorously, diligently, and confidently. Inspired by microfinance “village banking”, participants coach each other over the course of a program focused on making companies bankable, and do it in an astoundingly collegial and disciplined way. Village Capital has proven its peer-based, low-cost model through 18 programs launched worldwide serving 300 entrepreneurs, creating thousands of jobs and serving more than 4,000,000 customers.
A Program to encourage micro-entrepreneurs from the refugee and immigrant populations in Clarkston, GA
A challenge for various under-served communities – including Clarkston and others around the nation – is that of encouraging and supporting micro-entrepreneurs. These individuals establish small but sustainable businesses that support themselves and their families, while collectively supplying a range of services and a sense of purpose and vitality to local economies. Applications for the VilCap:Start Clarkston Accelerator opened in October, and by mid December we had more than 65 applications, some even coming from as far as Kennesaw and West Atlanta, despite recruitment efforts solely focused on Clarkston. A cohort of 15 was selected and the program kicked off in January. Through a targeted skills-based program, featuring sessions lead by experienced entrepreneurs, lawyers, financiers, mentorship from a team of around 20 business leaders, and peer support, 3-4 entrepreneurs will be selected, by their peers, to receive working capital loans of up to $10k. In the process, all 15 are learning valuable lessons on the path towards executing viable business models.
The Clarkston Accelerator features entrepreneurs from a range of backgrounds, and national origins.
Bikash wants to grow two types of flowers that Hindus use during a holiday in November because currently they are hard to find in USA (Hindis are using artificial flowers). They can be grown in abundance with little care.
Clarkston 24 hrs/day 7days/week Daycare & Interpretation service.
Much needed child-care, interpretation and translation service to non-English speaking parents, refugees, and immigrants children and their families.
Rollin Set Mobile Beauty
Rollin Set Mobile Beauty is a mobile beauty salon that provides hair, skin and nail care services to anyone who is not able to make it to the beauty salon: the elderly, sick and shut-in individuals as well as individuals in group homes and personal care homes.
A Crystal Green Cleaning Company
Crystal Green provides detoxing services for residential & commercial properties. They use 100% eco-cleaning products. At the present time they have 7 residential clients and 1 commercial turnkey cleaning project with HJ Russell and Company. Their goal is to offer employment to refugees.
Bhutan Baskets collects kudzu by the side of the road, makes baskets, and sells them at markets. They are planning to expand their operations to include new products, such as perishables at local festivals, and online sales. They have revenues of more than $200,000 to date.
Jewelry, Gifts and Clothing
Deepak and his nephew, Prakash, produce and repair traditional hand-made jewelry as well as traditional hand-made crafts and clothes. They hope to market their services and hand-made crafts as gifts.
Famous Cleaners and Laundromat
Mahendra has been operating a dry cleaning business and coin-operated laundromat in Clarkston since September 2012. His customers are primarily new refugee arrivals, but the business is also accessible to the Clarkston community in general. He hopes to provide valuable services to low-income refugee families who are supported by wages from entry level jobs.
A Village Life
A Village Life produces high-quality, uniquely crafted home accessories, linens and other products with the purpose of helping refugee women become self-sufficient. Primarily Naima hopes to sell a cause: changing lives by encouraging refugee women to turn their talents into jobs. Products will include: accent pillows, table runners, napkins, place mats, coasters, table cloths, window curtains, bed linens, hand bags, totes, make-up bags, wallets and wearable fashion in the future.
Narayan, his wife and 23-year-old son are starting Himalayan Grocery in order to serve the Clarkston area’s multi-ethnic community, mostly its recently immigrated South Asian and Burmese residents. The store will carry varieties of ethnic foods, merchandise, fresh fruits and vegetables that are not usually carried by other local stores. The store will also be carry herbal healthcare and other useful products.
SAMJA Consulting Inc
SAMAJA Consulting Inc provides security and investigative services to individuals, businesses, law firms and corporations. International Cultural and Language Services This is a service-based business that will provide interpretation services from various languages to English. It will also provide a mentoring program. Interpreters will be provided for all kinds of appointments such as medical appointments, schools, special needs, etc…
WISE WOMAN GIFTS
Wise Woman Gifts uses natural raw ingredients to create botanical healing oils, salves, moisturizing creams, and goat milk soap. Sue recently published an article on Aromatherapy for the Herb Society of America. Her work is considered “traditional healing.”
Through the VilCap-Start program we are committed to providing each community with:
- A careful selection process that ensures that participating entrepreneurs are able to enhance each other’s ventures by helping one another make more effective business decisions;
- A tailored program of mentorship and skill development that involves (whenever possible) local business assets; and
- A guaranteed pool of investment dollars that are allocated at the end of each program based on the decisions made by participating entrepreneurs.
With roughly fifteen entrepreneurs participating in skills-based programs run annually over three years, we will encourage, identify, mentor and connect 45 new micro-entrepreneurs every year within each community. The three most promising entrepreneurs from each program will also receive low-interest working capital loans. Thus, each year, nine entrepreneurs, who emerge with enhanced business acumen and more supportive networks, will also secure the financial backing required to establish their new businesses. And (based on prior Village Capital program experience) other participating entrepreneurs are expected to receive support and early-stage loans from other lenders that are drawn to each program.
- Other Programs