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Size Doesn't Matter

Sample these microenterprise programs to help you start small.

By Nichole L. Torres

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Starting small seems especially difficult sometimes, so we wenthunting for some interesting programs to help microenterpriseentrepreneurs get off the ground. Some offer microloan resourcesand help, while others offer classes and counseling to helpnavigate the often unpredictable world of entrepreneurship. Hereare some of the microloan programs in major cities nationwide:

  • Los Angeles:Charo CommunityDevelopment, founded in 1967, provides microenterpriseassistance in both English and Spanish. Open to anyone (not justpeople in the local community), it teaches aspiring entrepreneursto develop a business plan and a marketing plan, and provides themwith access to the internet--at no charge. The 11-week advancedcourse costs $199 to cover materials, but students get weeklyexpert lectures on all aspects of entrepreneurship. Charo alsoserves as the liaison between entrepreneurs and financialinstitutions, and does the legwork with lenders. "Our goal isto be the mecca of economic development," says Cynthia Amador,president and CEO of Charo.
  • New YorkCity:Project Enterprise was founded in 1997 to help buildthe local economy. Microloans range from $750 to $12,000 and areavailable even to entrepreneurs with less-than-perfect credit--theylook at "social collateral." Says Arva Rice, executivedirector, "What we mean [is that] they agree to come to thesemeetings on a biweekly basis, engage with the rest of the group,and invest their time and resources [in] the group." Startupsattend the six-week training and learn to put together an executivesummary, profit and loss statements, income and expense ledgers,and so on.

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