“The extent of and continuing increase in inequality in the United States greatly concerns me,” Janet Yellen, Federal Reserve Chair

Business ownership is a route to wealth creation and closing the racial wealth gap. The catch: Lack of wealth inhibits entrepreneurship. Small business owners often rely on their own savings, equity in their home, and loans from family and friends to start their businesses, grow their businesses, or even to meet the needs of day-to-day cash flow. Business owners without these resources bear a distinct disadvantage.

Capacity-building programs support small businesses to develop such assets as knowledge, know-how, and networks around contracting, financing, and strategic planning. Interise research has found that, through capacity building, minority-owned small businesses and businesses located in low- to moderate-income (LMI) communities increase revenues and create jobs at rates higher than other established small businesses.

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Interise is proud to honor our nation's service men and women this Veterans Day! According to the US Small Business Administration, 9% of US firms are owned by veterans, employing around 5.8 million people. Many veterans have completed Interise's StreetWise 'MBA'TM program in 73 cities across the country. To celebrate Veterans Day, Interise is highlighting a few alumni small business owners who have continued to serve their communities, even after finishing their military service.

On contracting with the National Football League to power Superbowl XLVI: “You have to embrace how hard running a small business is. Hard work pays off.” - Interise Alum Shane Conner; Owner of Atec Inc. in Lebanon, IN


“When you’ve done cool projects like the Watt Innovation Center, it starts to build your portfolio. Then, when you do come across a large project you can say, “Hey look, we did this. Look at the reviews.” - Interise Alum Greg Carpenter; Owner of Synergy Media Group in Pittsburgh, PA


“If you as a small business are smart enough to embrace the adversity that exists you will be a better business person. You will be a better human being for it.” - Interise Alum Michael Tipton; Owner of Integrity Communications Solutions in Colorado Springs, CO


“Winning contracts in the federal market takes a different approach from what served you well in the private sector. Every business process needs to be re-calibrated toward the needs of the federal customer.” - Interise Alum Dan Proulx; Owner of Monument Construction LLC in Nashua, NH


For more, check out Interise's StreetWise 'MBA'TM, a game changing capacity-building program recognized by the World Bank and the US Federal Reserve.

Where Would We Be Without Our Teachers?

Teacher Appreciation Header

Interise instructors are the reason the StreetWise 'MBA'TM continues to prove its success, so it's only fitting to celebrate them during Teacher Appreciation Week! Each instructor brings their unique business knowledge and past experiences to their cohort, often creating relationships with participating business owners that last long after the program's completion. This week, Interise is featuring testimonials shared by business owners in appreciation for their StreetWise 'MBA'TM teachers and instructors!

“Mary is a gifted teacher and instructor. She knew how to capture the interest of our class in an engaging, witty, direct and helpful way. Some of the concepts in class were entirely new to me and she really helped all of us understand how a concept could be applied to any one of our businesses. I also appreciated how she really took the time to listen, understand and customize the material for what our class needed to learn.” - Interise Alum on Mary Marshall; Seattle, WA instructor

“Our instructor was never dull. She made it exciting to come to class and learn how to become great CEOs. She used her only life's examples with a failing hair salon to teach us about businesses. Even though class is over. She continues to motivate us and provide additional opportunities for our businesses to excel.” - Interise Alum on Nicole Cober, Esquire; Baltimore, MD instructor

“Well to start I was not totally into being in this class , but my sister said it would be good for the family business if I was going to take the business into the future with a lot of grumbling I went to the first class and there was Bob Ross all excited and raring to push the class onward. Mind you I was not a fan of going to college and was about to find out I was going to be doing more homework and basic studying and learning our family business all over again. He took me from being defiant to participating to always the first one there in class excited to see Thursday come, he made it so I wanted and needed to be there or I would miss out and that has never happened in all the years of seminars, classes, webinars, etc. I even I had emergency gallbladder surgery and the day I left the hospital I went to class 2 hours later and so to me, that says a lot about Bob. He was valuable in our business landing a 1/4 million dollar a year account from what he had taught and his invaluable insight.” - Interise Alum on Robert BoB Ross; Columbus, OH instructor

Look out for more teacher appreciation features as the week goes on!

For more, check out Interise's StreetWise 'MBA'TM, a game changing capacity-building program recognized by the World Bank and the US Federal Reserve.

StreetWise 'MBA' Alumni Celebrated for Impact at 2017 Immigrant Entrepreneur Awards


2014 Winner of the Immigrant Entrepreneur Award and 2010 Interise graduate, Victoria Amador(left)

Three StreetWise 'MBA'TM business owners (Daniel Perez; Yessy Feliz; and Jose de la Rosa) were nominated for the 2017 Immigrant Entrepreneur Awards, given each year by the Immigrant Learning Center for four categories (business growth, neighborhood business, high-tech business, and life-science business).

Daniel Perez, a 2017 Interise graduate from Colombia who owns DPV Transportation Worldwide in East Boston, was nominated in the Business Growth category; Yessy Feliz, a current Interise business from the Dominican Republic who runs Tails, Inc. in Jamaica Plain, was nominated for Neighborhood Business; and Jose de la Rosa, a 2014 Emerging Leaders graduate from the Dominican Republic who owns Guardian Healthcare in Jamaica Plain, won the 2017 Immigrant Entrepreneur Award for Business Growth.

In the past, many StreetWise 'MBA'TM alumni have been nominated for these awards, and two have won in their respective categories. Below is a list of all that have been nominated, with winners in bold, along with the name of their small business, the location, and the year(s) they were nominated:
  • Ruth Francis, P&R Ice Cream and Restaurant, Mattapan (2015)
  • Alberto Calvo, Stop & Compare Supermarkets, Chelsea (2014, 2015)
  • Herby Duverné, Taino Consulting Group, Boston (2016)
  • Colette Phillips, Colette Phillips Communications, Boston (2016)
  • Antonio Rodrigues, TNT Cleaning Services Inc., Assonet (2016)
  • Marc Silva, Somerville Sustainable Cleaning, Cambridge (2014)
  • Rosa and Nisaury Tejeda and Victoria Amador, Tremendous Maid LLC, Jamaica Plain (2014)
  • Jose de la Rosa, Guardian Healthcare in Jamaica Plain (2017)
  • Daniel Perez, DPV Transportation Worldwide in East Boston (2017)
  • Yessy Feliz, Tails, Inc. in Jamaica Plain (2017)
The Immigrant Learning Center, situated in Malden, MA, provides research, business, and learning tools to recent immigrants while also educating the public on the benefits of immigrants in the community. Through ILC's English Learning Program and their Public Education and Research, they give immigrants a voice.

Interise's proven model for accelerating economic development through small business growth in lower-income communities has had impressive impact across the country, as illustrated in the 2016 Impact Report. Celebrate thriving small businesses #AllYearLong!


Why Every Small Business Needs an Attorney


This week, Interise alumni are engaging in Ask an Expert: Law in Small Business, learning from the Baltimore program instructor Nicole Cober, Esquire. Small business owners often think needing an attorney means their business is in trouble, but Cober wants to break this stereotype and show that it is important to have an attorney before something goes wrong. She is discussing what small business owners should seek counsel for, as well as best practices for communicating effectively with counsel, how to hire, and when small business owners need full time staff within their counsel.

What Business Owners Are Asking about Legal Matters

Employment manuals are an extremely vital part of any business. According to the National Federation of Independent Businesses, at a minimum your employee handbook should contain the following six items: (1) an employment at-will disclaimer (section 1.3); (2) a statement regarding equal employment opportunity (section 2.1); (3) a policy prohibiting unlawful discrimination and harassment (section 2.2); (4) a section that describes the policy for use of company property and privacy rules (section 3); (5) a section on employment classification and overtime rules (section4); (6) a policy on Family and Medical Leave if you have 50 or more employees (section 6.3); and (7) a section on Safety (section 9). You should also consider including a disciplinary guideline (section 8). Please contact an attorney in your state to help you create and review the local regulations that apply to your business and its individual circumstances.

Teaming agreements are not easy but they are straight forward in terms of...the terms. You and the business partner need to first sit down and stamp out the big picture items--what are you going to do, what are they going to do; for how much; when will you begin; when will you end; what will happen if a dispute arises; who has decision making authority, etc. Once you have this important meeting, WRITE DOWN THE DETAIL SUMMARY. are ready to call an attorney. You have the facts and details together. You will now present them to an attorney and the attorney will take a template and draft or tailor it to meet your specific needs. The more detail you do upfront on the terms of the agreement, the more focused time an attorney can spend on drafting and counseling. You can ask for flat fees for contract drafting too because at that time, the attorney can now look at your detail summary and give a measured answer about how many hours the agreement will take. Also, find an attorney that focuses on small business and contract law. Those will hopefully focus on the small entrepreneur and want to be sensitive about budgets.

"So much of small business touches areas of the law that are relevant to compliance. Whether it be employees that you hire, marketing and advertising laws, regulatory issues, or real estate. Think of an attorney as an advisor or counselor. A wise business owner wants to be proactive in putting a lawyer on their team before they need a lawyer on their team.

I'd encourage business owners to stop thinking of only needing a lawyer after your in trouble, but thinking of them as an advisor at the beginning of a decision-making process. You will save a lot of money, time and heartache working with a lawyer in a "counselor" role rather than a litigation role."
- Nicole Cober, Esquire.

Interise's Ask an Expert series is facilitated by the Interise Continual Engagement program and occurs every month for an entire week. Continual Engagement refers to the programs and resources that Interise offers to alumni of the StreetWise ‘MBA’TM curriculum. It is also a way that Interise works to support partners’ organizational capacity – they can implement programs or best practices from the Interise Continual Engagement team, or gain inspiration to create something that works best for their respective community.

For more, check out Interise's StreetWise 'MBA'TM, a game changing capacity-building program recognized by the World Bank and the US Federal Reserve.

Victoria Washington wins Arkansas 2017 Small Business Person of the Year


Arkansas Small Business Person of the Year for 2017 Victoria Washington (left) Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon (right)

The winner of the 2017 Arkansas Small Business Person of the Year is Victoria Washington (2015 Emerging Leaders alum), owner of Vision Information Technology Consultants LLC. After working for several years as a requirements engineer for the Central Intelligence Agency, and later as a systems engineer for a federal contractor, Victoria Washington decided to start her own business in 2003.

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