Kanu Iheukumere Authors Op-Ed for Quartz

  • August 3, 2015
  • Entrepreneurship Training Program

    Bethel’s Entrepreneurship Training Program is for serious entrepreneurs who have already identified the area of business they want to pursue,but need expert guidance to minimize risk and maximize success. This program is geared toward for-profit enterprises and entrepreneurs who want to start a new business, owners of informally run businesses who want to become licensed and legally structured, and owners of existing businesses less than five years old that want to expand or standardize their business operations. Entrepreneurs selected for this highly competitive program participate in 14 weeks of classes on business plans, marketing, financing, accounting, risk management, legal issues, and more, followed by a year of personal mentoring from a business leader. Qualified participants are also eligible for low-interest loans up to $10,000 for a start-up business and $25,000 for an existing business from The Private Bank.

    The Illinois Small Business Development Center at Bethel New Life operates the Entrepreneurship Training Program (ETP), at no charge, to provide training and support to individuals who live in and start their businesses in designated communities primarily on the West Side of the city of Chicago. The program selects individuals who demonstrate the capacity to become entrepreneurs of new businesses, and also existing entrepreneurs less than five years old trying to expand their business. Participants are selected based on their potential to start or expand their business as a means to grow their income, increase personal wealth, reinvest in their business for growth, and create jobs within their communities. The program is an important part of Bethel New Life’s overall strategy called West Side Forward.

    During their involvement in the ETP, students that are selected are encouraged to launch or grow their businesses in industries with minimal financial barriers to entry or expansion, but potential for high growth. Service industries are often pursued by many entrepreneurs as there is a relative ease of entry and often less capital needed, and there is often a high demand for these services in both the consumer, commercial and industrial markets. In addition, special attention will be given to businesses that are manufacturing oriented or supply-chain businesses, as well as businesses that utilize innovative technological services or products as part of their core operations. Other business tracks that indicate a large probability of success will also be considered.

    Before filling out Phase 1 of the application, it is important to read the entire Frequently Asked Questions section below.

    Click on this link for Phase One of the application


    Am I Eligible?

    To enroll, applicants must meet a specific set of criteria. The criteria outlined below are the starting point for screening, but Bethel reserves the right to adjust these criteria as we determine the demand and capacity of the students to meet these criteria. They are as follows:

    • Applicants will designate in their application whether they are a start-up business (one year or less) or an emerging business (more than one year to 5 years old). Businesses that have been registered for more than 5 years old will not be eligible to participate
    • The applicants’ businesses must be for-profit businesses.
    • Have a credit check with a score of 500 or better. The threshold to receive a microloan on completion of the class from The Private Bank will normally require a score of at least 625.
    • Primary consideration will be given to Chicago west side residents that also have businesses or specific plans to locate their business office within the designated communities of Austin, Humboldt Park, West Garfield Park, East Garfield Park, North Lawndale, and South Lawndale.
    • These home address and/or intended business location will be one of these ten zip codes: 60608, 60612, 60622, 60623, 60624, 60639, 60644, 60647, 60651, and 60707. Secondary consideration may be given to those from other nearby geographic locations or businesses that have potential to positively impact a low to moderate income community.
    • Have at least a high school diploma or GED
    • Have a valid driver’s license or state identification
    • Proof of current address on above ID or recent utility bill

    How Do I Apply?

    Phase One Please read all of the linked pages related to the ETP class before you complete the application link. Go to the application link and follow the directions for answering all of the questions. When you have completed the survey, click on submit and you should receive a message that thanks you for submitting the survey, which is confirmation that the application has been successfully transmitted. Phase One of the application is due by 12:00 noon on Friday, August 21. Once your application has been processed, you will receive an email on or before August 21 stating whether you have been accepted for Phase Two. It is important to apply early because if you wait until the deadline and are accepted for Phase Two, you will have a very short window of time as the deadline for returning the Phase Two application with supporting documents is 12:00 noon, on Tuesday,August 25.

    Phase Two If you are selected for Phase Two, you will receive an email stating that you have made it to the next round. The email will contain a link to a questionnaire and items on a checklist that relate to the eligibility criteria mentioned under Am I Eligible? The primary component of Phase Two will be a questionnaire that requires a thorough description of the business, the products or services it sells, the target market and its demographics, and an explanation of the sales and marketing strategy. Other items required separately include a:

    • Signed release form for performing a credit check
    • Copy of high school diploma or GED, or copy of a diploma from a higher level of education completed
    • Copy of a valid driver’s license or state identification
    • Proof of current address on above ID or recent utility bill

    These bulleted items may be scanned and returned by email to etp@bethelnewlife.org, faxed to Attn: SBDC/ETP at 773-473-7871, or dropped off at the reception desk M-F between 9am-5pm at 1140 N. Lamon in Chicago before noon, August 25. Once your items are received, our staff will get in touch with you to follow-up if there are any questions or if something needs clarification. If everything is in order and there are no questions, you will be notified no later than August 26 if you have made it to Phase Three.

    Phase Three If you reach this phase you will receive an email notifying you of your acceptance, and will be requested to set up an appointment slot of 5-7 minutes for our Make Your Case panels. At this appointment, you will be expected to present your business idea and make your case for why your business is viable or posed for growth, and explain how your participation in the class will help your business reach that next level. The Make Your Case panels will take place between August 31-September 3 with both daytime and evening slots available. Final decisions for acceptance into the class will be made the week of September 7 with final notification sent no later than September 10. The first class will begin September 15.

    What Can I Expect If I am Selected?

    The classroom training is scheduled to start on Tuesday, September 15 from 6-9 pm at the Bethel Small Business Development Center office at 1140 N. Lamon in Chicago. The training component will be 12 weeks long and the class will meet every Tuesday night for three hours. During the training period, the participants will be required to submit periodic updates of key portions of their business design strategy to the trainers, and occasionally share those updates with other class participants. Those unable to provide such updates will be excused from the class. At the conclusion of the formal training, the class will have two additional weekly sessions where the students present their business strategy to fellow students and to a panel made up of SBDC staff, bankers, and other counselors and mentors that are part of the program. This will be a key factor in determining how ready the students are to qualify for the microloan program described below. At the conclusion of the presentation sessions, a commencement/graduation ceremony will be held January 5, 2016 to recognize the student’s accomplishments.

    The Private Bank will operate and manage a microloan fund pool specifically for the ETP graduates. Loans will be written with more flexible underwriting criteria than the bank’s conventional commercial loans, with a high range of $10,000 for start-ups and a maximum of $25,000 for qualifying existing business, although in some cases a loan may even exceed this amount. Final decisions for the microloan fund will be made by the bank.

    Another component includes matching each student with an experienced business mentor who can provide ongoing assistance and support through the class and once the class has ended. The individual mentor’s role is to provide feedback, access to networking resources, and provide guidance in the business start-up or expansion process.

    It is the intent to match each student with a mentor halfway through the class, if possible. After the conclusion of the class, graduates will be alumni and opportunities will be made for the alumni to gather on a regular basis (likely quarterly) to network and receive relevant post-class training. It is expected that alumni make every effort to attend these important sessions.

    Class topics (tentative order) for the 14 week session include:
    Weeks 1-2 Creating a Business Canvas (Business Plan)
    Weeks 3-5 Marketing, Research, and Feasibility Determination
    Week 6 How to Network and Putting It into Action
    Week 7 Developing Your Strategy and a Management Team
    Week 8 Legal Considerations and Business Operations
    Weeks 9-10 Understanding the Business Financials
    Week 11 Social Networking and Crowdfunding
    Week 12 Business Financing and Insurance Protection
    Weeks 13-14 Students Presentations
    Week 15 Commencement (planned for January 5, 2016)

    Students that attend at least 80% of the 14 sessions (which include the 12 training and 2 presentation sessions), write an acceptable business plan with financial projections, and complete a presentation will be eligible to receive a certificate of completion and consideration for a microloan.

    ETP Application Please link to the application and fully complete this session to be considered for the class. After submitting your application you should receive a notice on your screen that your application has been successfully submitted. No

    confirmation email is automatically sent, but if you have any question whether the submission went through, contact etp@bethelnewlife.org to confirm.

    Click on this link for Phase One of the application.