ATLANTA –Twenty-nine promising micro-entrepreneurs in the Clarkston and East Lake communities completed an extensive mentoring and business training program offered through the Start:Micro-Entrepreneur Accelerator Program (Start:ME). The program is offered annually by Social Enterprise @ Goizueta (SE@G) at Emory University in partnership with Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (ACE), East Lake Foundation and Friends of Refugees.

The 14-week accelerator program provides business training, mentorship support, and early-stage financing to promising micro-entrepreneurs (those with one to four employees) to develop viable and sustainable businesses. Entrepreneurs supported one another while competing for peer-selected loans from a $60,000 loan pool ($30,000 in each community).

As part of National Small Business Week (April 30-May 6), Start:ME celebrated the 29 ventures completing this year’s program with its Entrepreneur Showcase on Thursday, May 4. The event featured a market-place for entrepreneurs to showcase their products and services, unique foods sourced from local chefs and bakers, a keynote address from H. Jerome Russell, Jr. (President of H. J. Russell & Company and Russell New Urban Development, LLC.), and loan investment announcements.

Micro-businesses represented in the 2016 Clarkston and East Lake Cohorts included traditional foods from Syria, Estonia, and West Africa; cut and sew manufacturing; therapy for autistic children; vintage/custom eyewear; market gardens; public relations services; handmade leather handbags; and more.

Since its inception in 2013, Start:ME has supported more than 110 local businesses and awarded 21 working capital loans, including six peer selected loans to be announced during the Showcase event. Past participants have attracted over $260,000 in investment capital and created/maintained 34 jobs. Start:ME also engages more than 50 volunteer mentors with significant professional business and/or entrepreneurial experience to provide critical support for entrepreneurs participating in the program.

The following micro-entrepreneurs were selected by their peers in the cohort to receive a loan of up to $10,000 to help start or grow their businesses over the next three years:

Clarkston Community

  • TwinSpirit Rosby, Art Houze Alive – Performing arts, education, and special events center for businesses and professionals in the arts and entertainment sector
  • Tiffany Powell, Tiffany Powell Photography – Boutique portrait photography services
  • Reggie & Roger Ramos, Grow with the Flow, LLC – Certified naturally grown market garden serving local communities

East Lake Community

  • Jasmine Walker, King and Lola – Online clothing boutique offering quality clothing for newborns and toddlers
  • Yetunde Jude, Yelani (Archer Place Global LLC) – Plant-based hair care products for kinky to curly hair
  • Ajah Myers, Myers Assessment and Therapeutic Services – Tutoring and therapy services to children and adults with developmental disabilities

The program is developed and delivered by Emory University’s Social Enterprise @ Goizueta (SE@G) in partnership with Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (ACE), the East Lake Foundation, and Friends of Refugees. Other partners include Northern Trust (Multi-Community Sponsor), PNC Bank (East Lake Sponsor), Drew Charter School, Villages of East Lake, East Lake Neighborhood Community Association (ELNCA), Kirkwood Neighbors’ Organization (KNO), Clarkston Community Center, Global Growers, and Partnership for Community Action.

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2017 Cohort Stats and Facts

  • 33 micro-entrepreneurs representing 29 different micro-business ventures
  • 93 percent minority-owned
  • 72 percent female-led
  • 28 percent foreign born
  • 79 percent booked revenue with median annual revenues of $14,000 (max of $300,000)
  • 41 percent employ others (in addition to owners/founders)
  • 31 percent have started previous ventures
  • $60,000 loan investment pool to be allocated based on peer-selection
  • 50+ Atlanta-based volunteer business mentors serving as mentors/coaches
  • 14 weeks of programming (meets once per week in each community) from January through April

About Social Enterprise @ Goizueta

Social Enterprise @ Goizueta (SE@G), a research center within Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, stimulates innovative market-based approaches to generate positive societal impacts in places where markets are currently ineffective. Faculty, staff and students work with for-profit, non-profit, and hybrid organizations to inject business thinking into communities through research, fieldwork, and teaching/student activities.

About Start:ME Clarkston

Social Enterprise @ Goizueta (SE@G) works with Friends of Refugees, Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (ACE) and local partners Clarkston Community Center, Global Growers, and Partnership for Community Action to support entrepreneurs in Clarkston, GA since 2013. The Clarkston program has graduated 64 ventures since 2013.

About Start:ME East Lake

Social Enterprise @ Goizueta (SE@G) works with the East Lake Foundation and local partners Drew Charter School, Villages of East Lake, East Lake Neighborhood Community Association (ELNCA), Kirkwood Neighbors’ Organization (KNO) to support entrepreneurs in the East Lake and neighboring Kirkwood communities of Atlanta. PNC Bank is the presenting sponsor. The East Lake program has graduated 46 ventures since 2015.