True Equity Requires True Access: Historic Kennett Square Hosts a Spanish-Language Course for Local Entrepreneurs
Having a great idea is one thing, but creating a successful business around that idea is another matter entirely. Starting a business requires creativity, commitment, hard work, and risk—in addition to clear planning, a variety of business skills, and financial knowledge. It’s a challenging enough process to undertake in one’s own native country and tongue, let alone in another language.
At the end of October, seven budding entrepreneurs from the Kennett area graduated from True Access Capital’s five-week Spanish-language Business Plan Course. Each student brought a different dream to the course—to build a business in media, landscaping, floral design, or transportation—but they all brought similar questions and learned together about different business structures, how to create a business plan, best practices for promoting and marketing, and how to measure key metrics like cashflow and profitability.
“Those who are interested in starting a business learn the kinds of questions they should ask, what they need to start, what their business might look like in six months. And the course helps those with existing businesses to test their methods and learn to look at things in a new way,” said Lorenzo Merino, Community Lending Officer with True Access Capital and a course facilitator.
At the end of the first week, Javier Bedolla, owner of Bece Landscaping, said, “The class offers a lot of useful information for businesses. I look forward to attending the weekly classes to learn more.”
True Access Capital (TAC), a nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), received a grant from the Welfare Foundation that enabled them to bring this course, free of charge, to Southern Chester County. “We’re a mission-driven organization,” Merino says “We help businesses that don’t qualify for traditional financing, but we also support these businesses through offering various kinds of training courses, counselling, and mentoring, all for free or at a low cost. We’re a one-stop-shop, providing financing as well as guidance.”
A few of the course graduates are also working with Hector Nuñez, a TAC consultant who works one-on-one with bilingual business owners to, for example, complete a business plan so they can apply for a loan and have access to capital—hence the name True Access Capital. “Those who benefit from our courses may or may not become borrowers,” Merino says. “A big part of our mission is to provide this kind of technical assistance to entrepreneurs.”
“We are very pleased with our inaugural business planning course in Kennett Square and we appreciate the partnership with Historic Kennett Square,” says Vandell Hampton, Jr., President and CEO of True Access Capital. “Even in these tough times, we were able to support entrepreneurs that need us the most.”
The Business Plan course, which begins with a meal each week, also provides an opportunity for participants to network with one another.
“The first week, everyone is shy, not eating the food, and by the end everyone is hanging out, talking, and laughing. It’s great to see the comradery that develops over the weeks we spend together,” Merino says.
Although True Access Capital is headquartered in Wilmington, Merino says they see lots of potential in Southern Chester County, and in Kennett in particular. “It’s a great town, with a diverse demographic, and we appreciate the support of Historic Kennett Square.”
The Women’s Business Center (WBC) at True Access Capital also offers an amazing range of courses and industry-specific training.
“It’s a major resource in our area,” Merino says, “and it’s for everybody—not just for women.” True Access Capital is also putting together plans for future workshops and courses in the Kennett area.
“We were delighted to be able to host this course here in our State Street offices,” says Historic Kennett Square Executive Director Bo Wright. “The meeting room used for the course is actually the new home for Kennettica Radio, whose founder, Roberth Rojo, also graduated from the course.” With masks, open windows, and plenty of room, some students took the course in person. An online option accommodated three students who were able to participate via Zoom.
Raúl Toledo, Founder and Director of Kennett Multimedia, echoes the sentiments of many of the course participants.
“On behalf of our team I want to thank True Access Capital and also Historic Kennett for giving us the opportunity to have a course of this type in our language. It has helped us a lot since, like any company, we need professional help in the financial field. The information that was provided to us was of great help, and now we are working on developing the business plan and applying what was learned in the course.”
Merino, who lives in Kennett Square with his family, said it's important to support small locally owned businesses like these.
“More people are running at lower capacity right now because of the pandemic, so every customer is very important to small business owners," he said.
This kind of community support—choosing to patronize local shops, restaurants, and service providers—will help to keep the dreams of these new entrepreneurs, and the dreams of all local small business owners, alive through this challenging season.
For more information about TAC’s programs go to True Access Capital or contact Lorenzo Merino (484) 243-0961.