What impact have you had?
In the last five years alone, PE has disbursed 390 loans totaling more than $1.1M, with just 7% written off; and provided more than 2,000 microentrepreneurs with business training and networking opportunities. Our entrepreneurs experience a 42% increase in monthly profit after getting a PE loan and our businesses generate nearly $5 million in local wages annually. Members stay with PE for an average of 4 years.
PE is committed to proving the tools necessary for entrepreneurial success. The steps include creating PE Ambassadors, Affinity Groups, Access to Markets and becoming an Entrepreneurial Assistance Program (EAP) site. The Ambassadors are PE members who have been with the organization for over 3 years and have successful businesses. They teach our introductory training class and receive public speaking training to advocate on behalf of their fellow entrepreneurs. Additionally, we have created Affinity Groups where members can exchange and receive resources specific to their industry. Each Affinity Group is led by a well-respected member of the industry business community as well as a PE member. Access to Markets is a program that connects members with venues to sell and/or showcase their products and services. The EAP is a formal business plan writing class where entrepreneurs complete a business plan over 10 weeks. Deterrents to success are members not taking advantage of the programs for varied reasons or general inactivity.
The expected results of implementing these programs is that members will have a variety of resources to help grow and strengthen their businesses and they will take more of a leadership role in shaping the services that can best meet their needs. Through the Ambassador program, we hope that more seasoned members will be a resource for newer members. Through the Affinity Groups, we hope that members will have access to respected professionals in their field that they can forge mentorships with and be exposed to industry specific events & markets. The Access to Markets program allows members to connect with potential customers and clients. It also allows them to experience selling their products in the midst of competition. Finally, through EAP, members have access to business professionals in areas like marketing, finance, and operations, while creating a viable document that can help them secure financing from other sources and serve as a roadmap for their business. Through all programs, members are asked to take on leadership roles. We envision PE serving an increased number of entrepreneurs with greater business survival rates and higher revenues.
What will it take for your project to be successful over the next three years? Please address each year separately, if possible.
In order for PE to provide more loans and be able to provide members with the added benefits of training, technical assistance, business development, networking and access to markets, we recognize the need to strengthen our infrastructure, improve our data gathering and reporting process, to add staff, and expand our partnerships. Over the next 3 years we plan to increase the amount loaned to $1 million per year and the number of entrepreneurs served to approximately 1000 per year. In 2010 specifically, we will make significant strides in this direction as we plan to purchase Loan Management Software, outsource our technology platform, and hire 1-2 full time staff members. As a result of these improvements, this year we expect to increase the amount of loans to $350,000 and service more than 600 entrepreneurs. We will grow the program in all the boroughs of New York City. Next year, we plan to add one additional staff member, increase the amount of loans to $500,000 and provide service to more than 850 members. We will also relocate our offices to accommodate further growth, as well as increase and strengthen the Affinity Groups. In year three, we plan to add an additional full time staff member, expand partnerships to allow for partners to provide the training component, while we provide the loan products, lend $1 million and serve 1,000 members. In year three, we also will re-introduce the Retail Incubator Selling Experience (R.I.S.E.) program where members can experience the retail selling experience with a relatively low investment by sharing space over a three-month period.
What would prevent your project from being a success?
The biggest obstacle to our project being successful is infrastructure which relies heavily on funding. We need to be able to increase our capacity and create more systems. For example, we need the ability to reach more entrepreneurs through marketing. We have a small budget for marketing and have been relying on grass roots marketing to accomplish our goals. Additional staff people are key to our ability to grow our program and allow us to successfully expand into other areas, however, our office space is limited. We must move our offices in order to grow our internal capacity and be able to serve more people and gain additional funding. The strength of our program relies heavily on us providing services beyond capital. For us to effectively continue to expand our current services and add on new program components, our infrastructure must be invested in heavily. We are optimistic that several of our infrastructure needs will be met and are working aggressively toward those goals.