Plenty was happening back in 1973. President Nixon’s Watergate scandal dominated the headlines. Troops came home from Vietnam. Bell-bottom jeans and long sideburns were in vogue. And in San Francisco, a nonprofit named the Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA) was formed. The goal: asset-building for the low- and moderate-income Latino community of San Francisco.
To foster the building of community capital, a Business Development program was created. This meant helping Mission residents gain access to much-needed funding so that new businesses could thrive and jobs could be created. Years later, a seven-session workshop — teaching the basics of small-business creation — was added as a prerequisite to clients receiving one-on-one coaching. Budding entrepreneurs learned everything from marketing strategies to negotiating a commercial lease.
Over the decades, hundreds of community-serving small businesses have been created or helped to grow in the Mission, and beyond. Restaurants. Family child care facilities. Print shops. All of these ventures are the ideal way to creating a long-term family asset, especially for newcomers to this country.
Because of MEDA’s history in this realm, this year the nonprofit participated in “San Francisco Small-Business Week 2016,” which ran from May 21 to 28. This annual event celebrates small businesses, which create stable incomes for owners and jobs for the community.
The numbers back up that statement. According to the U.S. Small-Business Administration (SBA), there are 3.7 million small businesses in California – 99.2 percent of all businesses in the state. These businesses employ 6.7 million Californians, which is about half of the state’s workforce.
To reach a large audience, MEDA held its first-ever “Bilingual Small-Business Resource Fair” on Saturday, May 21, to offer tools to start or expand an enterprise. The venue was City College’s Mission campus on Valencia Street.
Business Development Program Manager Edwin Rodriguez welcomed attendees and counseled, “Starting your own business is a powerful experience. MEDA can make that a reality.”
There was then a secondary welcome, this one from Director of Asset Building Programs Lucy Arellano. She offered information on MEDA’s many other free services in the Mission, which range from housing opportunities and free tax preparation to job training and computer classes.
MEDA’s Ernesto Martinez then did a presentation on social media marketing – vital to any business gaining a market share in 2016. Martinez showcased best practices in this realm.
Four free workshops were then held: Diana Matei-Golopenta, who leads MEDA’s Adelante Fund, spoke of access to capital; Crystal Cole from Legal Services for Entrepreneurs explained commercial-lease negotiation; Emiliana Puyana of La Cocina offered advice on business creation in the food and beverage industry; and MEDA’s Business Coach Teresa Garcia taught best practices for running a child care business.
Garcia then brought the crowd outside for a literal hands-on experience in job creation. It’s called the Yarn Game.
Explains Garcia, “Most people think you just need a business license to get going. Operating a business is a complex web. The Yarn Game visually explains this to our clients.”
The game starts by each person receiving a piece of paper on which is written one aspect of operating a business, such as marketing or financials. As Garcia reads out each business facet, that person gets thrown the yarn. Eventually a web has been formed (photo).
The game continues in reverse, Garcia reading each aspect of business again, with that person then dropping their yarn until all that is left is the person with “Business License.” As the web is now on the ground, clients learn that garnering a business license is definitely not enough for success.
MEDA takes a holistic approach to small-business development, as showcased at the bilingual resource fair. Clients left better informed and ready to make their business dreams a reality, with MEDA’s continued help.
If you are interested in free business development workshops followed by one-on-one coaching, please contact us: (415) 282-3334 ext. 101; firstname.lastname@example.org.