Entrepreneurship Training Program


The Entrepreneurship Training Program cohort 12 will start on September 11, 2018 and meet on Tuesday evenings from 6:00-9:00pm for 13 consecutive weeks until December 4, 2018, with a commencement ceremony the following week December 11, 2018.

Applications for cohort number 12 are now being taken through August 17, 2018 at 12:00 noon. The information below explains the application process. Please pay special attention to the dates and instructions in the narrative below to make sure you understand the procedure and are able to meet the deadlines and other time requirements for the class. Applications are only accepted electronically so click on the link for Phase 1 of the application below to complete and submit your information. If you don’t have access to a computer to submit your application, there will be an information session (optional to attend but recommended) on August 14 at 5:00 at 4950 W. Thomas St. in Chicago where potential applicants can attend to meet our staff, ask any questions, and if necessary, complete the application. If you have any other questions or concerns or need to set up a different time to come in to our offices and complete the application in our resource center, contact etp@bethelnewlife.org, or call 773-413-3344.



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 13 weeks of sessions 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 $30,000 for an existing business from CIBC Bank upon graduation. Special consideration for the class is given to entrepreneurs with a viable innovation in the manufacturing or technology field, also businesses with high growth potential will also receive priority consideration. In addition to this traditional ETP cohort, the IL SBDC at Bethel New Life facilitates the Business Innovation Technology (BIT) Program for entrepreneurs that desire to integrate a technology based solution into their business. The second cohort of the BIT Program will be recruiting candidates in August 2018.

The Illinois Small Business Development Center at Bethel New Life facilitates 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 to revitalize the West side of Chicago through economic development and revitalization.

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. Service industries are often the focus of many entrepreneurs as there is a relative ease of entry and often less capital needed, but it is important that any entity pursued have potential for modest or high growth in any of the consumer, commercial or industrial markets. A higher priority 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. 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
  • Primary consideration will be given to applicants that intend to start or expand for-profit businesses, while secondary consideration will be reserved for entities that may operate on a not-for-profit model.
  • Have a credit check with a score of 500 or better. The threshold to receive a microloan on completion of the class from CIBC 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 1: Please read all of the 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 application, click on submit and you should receive a message that thanks you for submitting the document, which is confirmation that the application has been successfully transmitted. Phase 1 of the application is due by 12:00 noon on Friday, August 17, 2018. Once your application has been processed, you will receive an email on or before February 13 stating whether you have been accepted for Phase 2. It is important to apply early because if you wait until the deadline and are accepted for Phase 2, you will have a very short window of time as the deadline for returning the Phase 2 application with supporting documents is 12:00 noon, on Wednesday, August 22.

Phase 2: If you are selected for Phase 2, 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 (soft pull)

• Copy of a valid driver’s license or state identification

• Proof of current address on above ID or recent utility bill

• Copy of GED, transcripts or diploma from highest level of education completed, if possible.

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 Monday-Thursday between 9am-5pm, or on Friday’s 9am-12 noon at 4950 W. Thomas St. in Chicago before noon, August 22. 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 23 if you have made it to Phase 3. Occasionally, emails (and especially ones with attachments) sent to this address may end up in a spam mailbox, so if you do not receive a response to your email inquiries or emailed items within a few days, or by the deadlines, please call to make sure we received your information.

Phase 3: 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. No PowerPoint presentations are allowed for these brief presentations before the panel. The Make Your Case panels will take place between August 27-30, 2018 with both daytime and evening slots available. Final decisions for acceptance into the class should be made by September 4, 2018, with final notification sent no later than September 6, 2018. The first session of the class will begin September 11, 2018 with an orientation for all the participants selected.

What Can I Expect If I am Selected?

The classroom training will start on Tuesday, September 11th from 6-9 pm in our TEC4950 location at 4950 W. Thomas in Chicago. The training component will be 11 weeks long (with two more weeks for the final presentations) 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 11 weeks of 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 December 11, 2018 to recognize the student’s accomplishments, and a certificate of completion will be given to those meeting the requirements of graduation.

CIBC 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 $30,000 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 become part of the Bethel ETP alumni association, 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 session.

Class topics (tentative order) for the 15 week session include:
Week  1 Creating a Business Plan

Week 2 Legal, Insurance and Marketing Industry Research

Week 3 Marketing, Branding, and Social Media Marketing

Week 4 Operational Strategy

Week 5 Business Accounting

Week 6  Business Operations Plan

Week 7 Email Marketing

Week 8 Marketing, Branding and Social Media Marketing

Week 9 Sales Strategy and Forecasting

Week 10 Business Plan Review

Week 11 Presentation Preparation

Weeks 12-13 Student Presenatations

Week 13 Online Module – Presentation Preparation

Commencement (planned for December 11, 2018)

Students that attend and participate in at least 10 of the 13 sessions (which include the 11 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 click on the link to the application below 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.