Bethel LA began using Centro's entrepreneurship resources in 2015, so they have been true trailblazers and early adopters of our entrepreneurship tools. For us, they are a case-study example of how we are helping others realize their mission, while supporting our goal of empowering small business entrepreneurs everywhere.
To share Bethel LA's experience, we interviewed their Co-founder and Entrepreneurship Program Lead, Frank Stokes.
We hope these short five questions and answers help you understand what Centro's Entrepreneurship Suite accomplishes for other organizations or independent business coaches who train and work with small business entrepreneurs.
1. What did your programs look like before implementing the Entrepreneurship Suite?
In 2014, my colleague Moses McCutcheon Jr Ed.D. and I were working together with West Los Angeles College, providing workforce development programs every year. The programs were eight weeks long and 20 hours per week.
After working together for a while, we decided to collaborate in a bigger capacity and decided to launch the Bethel Los Angeles Community Development Corporation. Shortly after, we realized our programs were too long, and that we wanted something more community oriented. So in order to generate the high impact we were aiming for, we decided to scale down our programs. A year later, conversations with Claudia Viek, former Executive Director of the California Association for Micro Enterprise Opportunity (CAMEO), facilitated our partnership with Centro Community Partners, and that was when we trained on how to implement the curriculum and methodology in Centro’s Entrepreneurship Suite.
In addition to our training, Centro provided Business Plan Bootcamps for our community - altogether, a great experience that helped us adapt Centro’s format to out own programs. Today, we continue to lead four cohorts of small business entrepreneurs every year but in a completely different way.
2. What is your reach in terms of number of entrepreneurs and what efficiencies has the Entrepreneurship Suite provided for you so far?
During its first year, Bethel LA trained 29 entrepreneurs. Three years in, we are close to doubling the number of entrepreneurs we train per year, and we have decrease the cost of training in an 86%. That is something we could have never accomplished alone or in such a short period of time.
3. What is the biggest value you get from using Centro’s Entrepreneurship Suite?
The main value is the simplicity and user-friendliness of the Centro Business Planning App. This alone has helped us serve the community a lot - it particularly helps us get rid of many of the barriers our entrepreneurs face when they have an idea, and want to launch a new business.
I know people who have attempted once, twice, even three times to write a business plan and they have never been able to finish, until now! They often tell me “this is the first time I’ve ever had a real business plan done!”
Also, we were always on the lookout for new ways to introduce new concepts to our program. With the app, we receive updates automatically - which is a huge benefit.
The other great value is how the app connects our entrepreneurs with Kiva loans. This gives extra confidence to our community as they realize there is a real pathway to get access to capital.
4. What is the biggest advantage of using Centro’s entrepreneurship resources?
To be able to help entrepreneurs with business integration, launching, expansion and capital formation - all in one. With Centro’s Entrepreneurship Suite we are seeing our mission come true. It really works!
5. What do entrepreneurs say about your program, now that you are using Centro’s entrepreneurship resources?
Their main comment is: “This is worth a lot more than what I paid!” We are excited that not only entrepreneurs experience the benefits of a streamlined entrepreneurship program that works, but it is also an excellent service that is affordable.
We are really happy to advocate for Centro, the Business Planning App, and the entrepreneurship methodology overall. We feel encouraged with this partnership and we hope to keep doing great things together.
We thank Frank Stokes for his strong partnership. We too hope we keep supporting more small business entrepreneurs together!
CENTRO'S ENTREPRENEURSHIP SUITE AT-A-GLANCE
- An entrepreneurship methodology and compendium of resources created to support aspiring and current small business owners who lack business education or experience.
- Designed for business coaches and organizations who lead or want to launch entrepreneurship programs for their constituency.
- Includes lesson plans supported by the Centro Business Planning App, resources for trainers and learning tools for entrepreneurs.
- Available in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Russian.
Other organizations who have implemented Centro's Entrepreneurship Suite include Mandela MarketPlace, West Angeles Community Development Corporation, Vermont Slauson, Mi Casa, Inland Empire, GlassRoots, BOCNET, Stockton Impact Corps, and the Mexican Heritage Center & Gallery.