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Posts Tagged ‘small business’

Here’s an upbeat story about the contributions of immigrants.  It relates to an area of Erie, Pennsylvania, that got a shot of adrenaline when entrepreneurial refugees began opening markets to serve various ethnicities.

Erika Beras reported at PRI radio’s The World, “Much of Erie, Pennsylvania is a food desert — people don’t have easy access to fresh or nutritious food. But [stores] run by refugees are popping up and making a big difference.

“At UK Supermarket, Samantha Dhungel pulls bags of vegetables out of the freezer. In her cart are onions and eggplant, but she pulls out a vegetable she only knows by its Nepali name. It’s a leafy green that her Nepalese husband uses in his cooking. …

“Before this store opened two years ago, there were a couple convenience stores and a few fast food spots around. All of them sold food that wasn’t nutritious, says Alex Iorio. She’s the public health educator for the Erie Department of Health. She says this place is different. …

“Most of the stores carry fresh foods and whole-grain items. Before, if people in the neighborhood wanted fresh vegetables, cornmeal or nuts, they’d have to drive across town or to the suburbs.

“Then two years ago, Pradip Upreti, a Nepalese refugee, opened UK Supermarket. … He wasn’t trying to solve the food desert problem — none of the store owners were. They just wanted refugees in Erie, who make up 10 percent of the city, to have access to specific foods.

“People would drive distances and buy up items like jackfruit and halal pizza. Then they’d resell those items to people in their community. Upreti saw a business opening there. …

“Upreti’s store carries mostly South Asian foods. Across the street is an Iraqi owned store that carries lots of spices. Around the corner, another Iraqi store specializes in fish and meats like lamb and goat. And there are well over a dozen more stores like them.” More here.

Many immigrants become small business owners. Happily for their neighbors and other people who enjoy foods from around the world, some of them open grocery stores.

Photo: Erika Beras
Pradip Upreti, center, stocks shelves in his Erie, Pennsylvania store, UK Supermarket.

 

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Interested in doing well by doing good? Consider attending the April 29-April 30 Providence event hosted by the Social Enterprise Greenhouse and the Social Innovation Initiative at Brown University.

According to the nonprofit’s website, the 2016 SEEED (Social Enterprise Ecosystem for Economic Development) Summit “provides a comprehensive support system to inspire, start, grow, and sustain successful social enterprises. …

“This year’s conference theme is Growing Businesses with Impact. We will explore the unique challenges facing a social enterprise at three stages of growth, with half day modules devoted to launching, growing and transforming. 

“Whether you’re a social entrepreneur, student, academic, impact investor, policymaker, or plain ol’ fan of ‘do well, do good’ business, we hope you will join us. This year’s conference will include free coaching, a ‘Buy With Heart’ market, lunchtime roundtable discussions, and a pitch competition. …

“The conference is hosted jointly by Social Enterprise Greenhouse and The Social Innovation Initiative at Brown University, in collaboration with sponsors The City of Providence, The Rhode Island Commerce Corporation and Worldways Social Marketing, as well as knowledge partners Bridgespan and Neighborhood Economics/SOCAP.

“SEEED is the first impact conference in the US to adopt a ‘pay what you can’ ticket model so that the event is accessible to everyone. However, it costs us $200 per participant. Therefore, we ask all attendees to pay what they can to support our mission (the minimum payment to register is $1.00). … For any questions contact info@segreenhouse.org.” Register here.

The keynote speaker is Willy Foote of Root Capital. According to Sacha Pfeiffer in the Boston Globe, “This year, the Cambridge nonprofit Root Capital expects to have surpassed $1 billion in loans made to small businesses in the developing world, a sector neglected by large commercial banks. …

“Because many farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America don’t have the traditional collateral needed to borrow money, such as property deeds, Root Capital relies on less conventional ways to judge creditworthiness. For example, it accepts future production of harvests — including cocoa, coffee, cotton, fruit, and nuts — as collateral for financing. That approach has been a success; Foote says Root Capital’s repayment rate is about 97 percent. …

“Root Capital doesn’t just loan money; it also offers financial training to rural entrepreneurs, helping them improve their business skills and strengthen their market connections.”

Read more about Foote and Root Capital in the Boston Globe article.

Photo: Heidi Gumula
The Social Enterprise Greenhouse has its headquarters at 10 Davol Square, Providence. 

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If you are a consumer these days, after Black Friday comes Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday. I do love Giving Tuesday as there are so many worthy causes to choose from, and you don’t have to go farther than your computer to donate. This year I am torn between a food bank I admire and my favorite refugee nonprofit, although I do love the Granola Project. Maybe I will do something for all three.

But tomorrow is Saturday, and I am headed down to Providence to help Erik with the kids while Suzanne has a Luna & Stella birthstone-jewelry trunk show at Talulah Cooper Boutique on Traverse St, just off Wickenden (12 pm to 5 pm).

While we are on the subject of Luna & Stella (the parent of this blog) you should know that now through Cyber Monday (November 30, 2015) only, you can get 40% off all earrings, plus $20 off orders over $100 anywhere on the website — with code SHOPSMALL.

This season, Suzanne is into mixing her jewelry with some vintage lockets she has found. The ones in the picture are all from the Greater Providence area, long known for jewelry making.

Photo below: Rhode Island Foundation
A Luna & Stella trunk show pictured in a profile at “Our Backyard,” which features Rhode Island people and businesses, here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Massachusetts Avenue in East Arlington is shrinking. After contentious debate, the town decided to widen the sidewalks, add barrier islands in the street, and new plantings and benches.

The job is not done, but in spite of construction and less room for vehicles, the traffic doesn’t seem to have increased — one of those counterintuitive results that designers tout. The goal is to make the street more pedestrian and bike friendly and allow more community activities on sidewalks. Through the tree committee, John has been involved with the beautification side of things.

One of the issues that gets raised when a major disruption like this is afoot is the effect on small businesses. Neighbors are making a point of shopping local, hoping that Arlington merchants won’t suffer.

And to make sure residents don’t forget how important that is, there is an amusing signage campaign — signs saying that “Businesses are [fill in the blank] during Construction.”

For example, “Businesses are Opalescent during Construction.” Other Mad-Libs-type adjectives used are Quirky, Colorific, Radiant, Prismatic, Harmonic, Niblicious, and Excellent.

Below, I include a couple of the signs. And I tried to show how the project is coming along — the wide sidewalk, the plantings, the bench. I look forward to seeing how the residents begin to make use of their new public spaces.

091915-shop-local-despite-construction

101715-support-small-biusiness

101715-bump-out-sidewalk

101715-widening-the-walk

101715-wider-walk-allows-benches

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At Christmas, Yuriko sent a translated Japan News article about the business she runs with her husband, who retired rather young. She told me the newspaper, called Yomiuri Shinbun in Japan, “has the largest distribution nationwide. We were really busy after that.”

The article mentioned that Japanese retirees starting small businesses or finding work at a reduced rate is a growing phenomenon, so I Googled around to see if I could learn more.

Kanoko Matsuyama writes at Bloomberg Businessweek, “When he retired three years ago, Hirofumi Mishima got right back to work. After aging out of a $77,000-a-year job as an industrial gas analyst, he spent six months trawling the vacancy boards at a Tokyo employment center.

“Fifteen days each month, Mishima, 69, rises at 4 a.m. for an eight-and-a-half-hour shift overseeing the supply of hydrogen gas to buses. His daily commute has risen from three hours to four even as his earnings have dropped by more than a third. ‘Keeping a regular job is the most stimulating thing for me,’ he says. ‘Now, I work for my health. I’m very happy my job gives me mobility and helps me stay active.’

“Though Japan’s retirement age stands at 60, more than 5.7 million Japanese have continued to work past 65, either because they can’t afford to stop working or they’re looking to get out of the house. The nation’s private companies can force employees to retire at 60 if they wish, so workers often accept slashed wages to stay on, sometimes in a reduced capacity as they start collecting public pension benefits. …

“Under the current system, Japanese men exit the labor market on average at 70, and women at 67, according to a 2011 report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. ‘The pension isn’t enough to live comfortably,’ says Kazuyoshi Hirota, 69, who works 24 hours a week as an apartment building manager and janitor in central Tokyo. Hirota retired seven years ago from his full-time security job at Asahi Group Holdings. His wife, 70, works as a cleaner. It’s not just about the money, though: ‘Life is boring without work,’ he says.”

More here.

My friend Yuriko runs a consignment shop. Her husband does financial consulting in the same storefront, which gives Yuriko flexibility to run out and look after her 90-something mother-in-law.

Photo: Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert

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Martha Bebinger had a great story at WBUR recently. It’s about an immigrant from Burundi with a mission.

“There were still drops of dew on the stalks of thick, spear-shaped leaves Fabiola Nizigiyimana slashed and tossed into a box one early morning.

“ ‘We call them lenga lenga, in our language,’ she said, laughing the words. “They are [a] green.’

“The 40-year-old single mother of five farms a one-acre plot in Lancaster. She’s one of 232 farmers who share the 40-acre Flats Mentor Farm. Last year, Nizigiyimana helped found a co-op that teaches farmers, many of whom can’t read or write in English or their native tongue, how to turn their plots into a business.

“They get help with packaging and selling their goods to local restaurants, ethnic food stores and farmers’ markets, many of them creating budgets and balance sheets for the first time.

“Nizigiyimana [was] honored for her work … at a White House ceremony after being selected as one of 15 USDA Champions of Change, who represent the next generation of farmers and ranchers.”

Read about all that this optimistic, cheerful woman has overcome and what challenges lie ahead for her business here.

Photo: Martha Bebinger/WBUR
Fabiola Nizigiyimana helped found a co-op that teaches farmers how to turn their plots into a business.

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Last fall, I blogged about the worthy Granola Project, which gives employment to refugees in Rhode Island. It is housed at the social service agency Amos House in Providence. I bought some of the granola at the farmers market a just last week.

Now Sarah Shemkus has written for the Boston Globe about a similar initiative for refugees in Massachusetts, but with the goal of helping refugee women to spin off companies on their own.

“Moo Kho Paw fled the violence and oppression of Myanmar for a refugee camp in Thailand nearly a decade ago,” writes Shemkus. “Five years later, she, her husband, and their baby daughter resettled again, this time landing in Springfield.

“As she adapted to her new home, Paw started looking for a job … That’s when she learned about Prosperity Candle, the Easthampton company where she has now worked for three years.

“ ‘I love the job,’ Paw said. ‘It helps me to pay the rent, to buy the baby diapers.’

“That’s precisely what Ted Barber, 46, hoped for when he and partner Amber Chand founded Prosperity Candle in 2010. … Sales are only part of its mission — the company says its real goal is to help women in and from developing countries by teaching them new skills and creating jobs. …

“In Easthampton, the company employs refugees such as Paw to make and package candles and fulfill orders. Currently, up to four refugees are working there at any given time, though Barber expects to hire more as the business expands. …”

The idea for an enterprise like Prosperity Candle first occurred to Barber when he was working in Africa, helping entrepreneurs build small businesses. …

” ‘I realized I wanted to do something different.’ …

“Rather than giving away money or supplies, [his] company would provide women with the resources, skills, and support they need to start a sustainable businesses. …

“Prosperity Candle formed as a low-profit limited liability company, a structure that requires the business to put its social mission ahead of profits.”

More.

Photo: Matthew Cavanaugh for The Boston Globe
Moo Kho Paw (left) and Naw Test made candles at Prosperity Candle in Easthampton.

Prosperity Candle formed as a low-profit limited liability company, a structure that requires the business to put its social mission ahead of profits.

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