Twenty-Nine East Lake and Clarkston Micro-Entrepreneurs Complete Community-Based Accelerator Program, Receiving Mentoring and Business Training

Twenty-nine promising micro-entrepreneurs in the Clarkston and East Lake communities have completed an extensive mentoring and business training program offered through the Start: Micro-Entrepreneur Accelerator Program (Start:ME). The program is offered 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 1-4 employees) to develop viable and sustainable businesses. Entrepreneurs have both supported one another and competed 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 will celebrate the 29 ventures completing this year’s program with its Entrepreneur Showcase on Thursday, May 4th from 5:30-8:30 PM at Agnes Scott College in Decatur.  The event will feature 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 include 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 15 working capital loans. Past participants have attracted over $260,000 in investment capital and created/maintained 34 jobs. Start:ME also engages 60+ volunteer mentors with significant professional business and/or entrepreneurial experience to provide critical support for entrepreneurs participating in the program.

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 & Facts

  • 33 micro-entrepreneurs representing 29 different micro-business ventures
  • 93% minority-owned
  • 72% female-led
  • 28% foreign born
  • 79% booked revenue with median annual revenues of $14,000 (max of $300,000)
  • 41% employ others (in addition to owners/founders)
  • 31% have started previous ventures
  • $60,000 loan investment pool to be allocated based on peer-selection
  • 60 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.