Owning a small business is a challenge. From developing a business plan to money management to marketing products and services, there are pitfalls around every corner.
Some of those problems can be even more pronounced in rural areas. Thanks to assistance from public and private grants, Project Vida’s Microenterprise Technical Assistance Program (MTAP) is helping small businesses succeed in El Paso County. Project Vida’s mission is to identify the comprehensive vision of the community for its future and develop community-based structures and programs to implement that vision in light of the needs and direction of the wider society.
“MTAP uses a model of outreach and trust-building. Economic Development Specialists call on potential clients, build trust, get to know the owner and business, and encourage income-qualified owners to enroll,” said Project Vida Co-Director Bill Schlesinger.
Over the past two years, grants totaling $4,667 from the Sundt Foundation have helped Project Vida provide financial and business literacy, and management and operational skill-building to low- and moderate-income business owners, creating a stronger business sector along the border. During that time, MTAP reached out to 354 low-income microenterprise owners, enrolled 69 in the complete program of technical assistance, and helped owners develop 53 business plans, retain 56 jobs and create another 40.
“MTAP offers one-on-one and group technical assistance in business start-up, licensing and permitting, business plan development, accounting and recordkeeping, marketing, use of technology in the workplace, accessing and using credit, customer service, preparing for and packaging a loan application, mentoring, networking with other microenterprise owners and presentations by knowledgeable professionals on business-related topics,” Bill said.
A flower shop owner heard about the program through word of mouth last year and requested help opening her business. MTAP helped her develop a business plan and create short- and long-term goals, obtain permits and licenses for her start-up business, and register as an LLC with the State of Texas. She has received training in accounting and bookkeeping and said the technical assistance in accounting and recordkeeping has been helpful in creating and keeping her records and payroll in order. She attends MTAP’s business seminars and workshops, and offers feedback to others who need assistance.
“One of the greatest accomplishments of the program is when MTAP clients build on the business knowledge and skills they’ve gained, their businesses grow and increase in profitability, and they volunteer to serve as mentors to new participants,” Bill said.
This is part of a series of blogs about the positive impacts made by the Sundt Foundation.