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Watering the seeds of entrepreneurship in Boston

(LISC) — As the economy grows, more and more low-income Americans are looking to open small businesses as a means to joining the middle class. In Boston, LISC and other nonprofits offer training, consulting and loans to help people with entrepreneurial vision get the know-how and capital to make a venture fly. An article in The Boston Globe highlights LISC’s free “Resilient Communities” entrepreneurship program and our work to bring the start-up zeitgeist to neighborhoods in need.

The excerpt below is from:
"Low-income entrepreneurs welcome added assistance"
by Katie Johnston, The Boston Globe

For a decade, Tiffany White worked as an executive assistant in Dorchester, living paycheck to paycheck to support herself and her son. But now she is on the other side of the corporate divide, the owner of a new business looking to hire as many as six employees for a natural skin and nail care studio scheduled to open in Hyde Park in November.

White, 46, credits her leap to becoming a business owner to a free 12-week entrepreneurship program aimed at residents of Dorchester, Roxbury, and Mattapan.

“I didn’t know anything about a business plan,” said White, who went to night school to learn about manicures, waxing, and facials. “The only thing I was thinking about was finding a place, getting the keys, and opening the doors.”

Tiffany White (right), entrepreneur - Boston, MA
Tiffany White (right), entrepreneur - Boston, MA

The program White attended in 2013, offered by the community development nonprofit Local Initiatives Support Corp., is among a growing number of resources aimed at lower-income entrepreneurs. As the economy improves, starting a business is increasingly seen as a way for people without a lot of assets to work their way into the middle class — driven by intense interest from entrepreneurs as well as investors who want their money to have a social impact.

The nonprofit microlender Grameen America has loaned more than $2.3 million to nearly 1,000 women since it opened a branch in Boston last year. A new business division of Northeast Legal Aid has given free legal assistance to more than 40 entrepreneurs in Lynn and Lawrence in the past year. And in Boston neighborhoods such as Uphams Corner, Dudley Square, and Grove Hall, several business incubators have recently opened their doors. Continued[+]...