“Our mission is to ensure that people with limited-incomes in the South Sound region have access to credit, technical assistance, training and support for small business development. These services are provided with the belief that people can and do transform their lives as they bring their strengths, initiative and dreams to their entrepreneurial efforts.”
Enterprise for Equity has been helping people with limited-incomes start small businesses since 1999. The Microcredit Summit in Washington, D.C in 1997 initially inspired this effort. After the Summit a small group of volunteers brought together 30 representatives of low-income serving agencies in the South Sound such as the Food Bank, Refugee and Immigrant Services Center, and Housing Authority to learn about the self-employment needs of the people they serve. Since then we have developed relationships with these agencies, conducted comprehensive business planning programs, obtained our 501(c)3 designation, established an active Board of Directors, and received sponsorships and funding from foundations, businesses and public agencies.
Our organization has implemented a full menu of business planning, technical assistance and support services to help people increase their income, confidence and financial security. Enterprise for Equity is uniquely qualified to support entrepreneurs with limited-incomes in the development of their business. Our curriculum is comprehensive and our staff, trainers and volunteers are experienced in supporting micro-businesses.
“Enterprise for Equity helped me to evaluate my business interest, develop a business plan that will continue to be refined, provided a supportive environment and extensive information. The instructors helped a diverse group of individuals in the class strive to meet their goals.”
– Enterprise for Equity Graduate
Within the field of employment and income assistance programs that target disadvantaged individuals, Enterprise for Equity is distinguished for its appreciation of the skills, assets, and potential of its participants. Because of this we provide entrepreneur training, technical assistance and micro-credit assistance with one eye on who these entrepreneurs are, and another on who they can become. With the guidance and support provided by Enterprise for Equity, even a person with limited income can dream of owning their own business.
Our Board of Directors actively participates in the development and expansion of the program, raises funds, and oversees the management of the organization. Volunteer Board members and other volunteers serve on our organizational pillars (committees) and provide valuable expertise and guidance for our organization.
Enterprise for Equity’s Board of Directors:
- Kwadwo Boateng, Office of the Treasury
- Deb Sosa, Washington State Department of Health
- Whitney Jones, Island Enterprises Inc. (Squaxin Island Tribe )
- Peter Lesser , Retired
Enterprise for Equity Staff:
- Lisa Smith, Executive Director
- Beth Oppliger, Training Director
- Lauren O’Neill, Administrative Assistant
Enterprise for Equity
PO Box 1291
Olympia, WA 98507
Phone: (360) 704-3375
Enterprise for Equity is an equal opportunity provider and employer and does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations.
Does Microenterprise Work?
Microenterprise development works because it reduces reliance on public assistance, creates jobs, and raises the income, job skills, and assets of low-income people. The best national research shows that:
- Limited-income microentrepreneurs reduced their reliance on government assistance by 61% with the greatest reduction in the amount of cash benefits received. Average benefits declined by $1,679.
- 72% of limited-income microentrepreneurs experienced gains in household income over five years. The average change in household income was $8,485, rising from $13,889 to $22,374 over five years.
- 53% of limited-income microentrepreneurs had large enough household gains to move out of poverty The microenterprise business was a major source of earnings for households moving out of poverty.
- Average household assets of limited-income microentrepreneurs grew by $15,909 over five years.
- 49% of microenterprises owned by limited-income entrepreneurs survived after five years – a rate comparable to the national average.
- On average, microenterprises create 1.5 full and part-time jobs per business.
- Microenterprises also generate a wide range of social and economic benefits such as life-long skills development, further education and training, improvement in self-esteem and family relationships.
The Aspen Institute