Note: We are about groups that give opportunities
to those with dreams so with that we met
with Laura Gumpert and she talked to us
about her organization, The Empowerment
Learn and enjoy!
What exactly is The Empowerment Group
and is Philadelphia your main base of
Empowerment Group(EG) :
The Empowerment Group is a nonprofit organization
located in the Kensington section of North
Philadelphia. Our mission is to
accelerate economic development in distressed
urban communities by cultivating local
entrepreneurship. We offer entrepreneurship
training programs for adults and youth,
and we are the only provider of business
classes in Spanish.
What type of services do you have and
how do you feel they help the client?
We run two main programs – the Philadelphia
Entrepreneurship Program in which we work
with adults who want to start their own
businesses and the Youth Entrepreneurship
Program where we run hands-on classes
in entrepreneurship at after-school and
summer programs throughout Philadelphia.
the Philadelphia Entrepreneurship Program,
clients take classes in business basics
such as finance, marketing and operations.
They also work one-on-one with
business consultants and have access to
computers, Internet, faxes and phones
in our business resource center.
In the Youth Entrepreneurship Program,
we introduce entrepreneurship to middle
school and high school students by having
them plan and run their own businesses.
We also run the ELITE Group, a program
at high schools throughout the city that
matches volunteer mentors with small groups
of students to put together socially conscious
business plans. Lastly, the Youth
Entrepreneurship Program works in partnership
with other organizations such as the Enterprise
Center in West Philadelphia and Youth
Venture, a national organization aimed
at helping students start socially conscious
businesses, to run youth social entrepreneurship
What is your involvement in the organization
and how long have you been there?
I am the Director of the Youth Entrepreneurship
Program. I started at EG in August
2002 as an Americorps*VISTA Member writing
grant proposals and planning fundraising
events. After my VISTA year, I
joined the staff and began running the
Youth Entrepreneurship Program.
What's the biggest misconception you see
for people trying to work with you?
Our clients often have grand dreams of
quitting their day jobs and making it
on their own right away. It is
often only through classes and training
that they understand the many challenges
they will face and begin to make realistic
plans for their businesses.
What would you say is the most frequent
business started since you've been there?
We've seen all sorts of businesses, but
businesses in the food industry are very
What's the reaction you usually get from
your clients, the local businesses, etc?
When people hear about our organization
in their local papers, and by word-of-mouth,
they always call in very excited to hear
about our programming and what we have
to offer them. I think people feel
better knowing that there are organizations,
like the Empowerment Group, out there,
willing to help them begin their business
ventures- which can be a very long, personal,
emotional process for many. Knowing
that someone will be behind them through
it all is a good comfort. We try
and cater to all of our clients needs
so that they really do feel supported.
How can people get involved? What is the
process for starting a business with the
organization? What do people need to deal
with you and the system?
It's easy for people to become involved
at EG. To enter the Philadelphia
Entrepreneurship Program, adults simply
complete an application form, and attend
an interview with one of our staff members.
After this process, they will be
accepted into our "Mastering the Basics"
course and benefit from our classroom
education, workshops, one-on-one consulting
and business support groups. Once
clients complete the "Basics" course,
they can chose to move onto the "Mastering
the Plan" course and develop their business
plan. During this time, clients
work one-on-one with staff members to
really start outing everything in place;
from applying for a business privilege
license, to securing a location, and creating
Is there any place people can go for information
about The Empowerment Group?
For information about our upcoming
Philadelphia Entrepreneurship Week, check
What do you personally get from this working
I find it incredibly rewarding to see
clients begin to see success with their
businesses. Additionally, it is
so heartwarming to see youth put what
they learn in our classes to work and
present impressive business plan presentations
and have actual success with businesses
Can you give me a good experience that
you had and a bad one if there was one?
One good experience that comes to mind
is watching the programs grow so much
in such a short time. We raised
the number of clients enrolled in our
adult program from about 12 to over 50
in less than 3 months! Then, we
were able to see all 50 students complete
their coursework, and 35 of them graduated
keeping in touch with former clients is
always great, seeing how they progress
in their businesses and in their lives
is really inspiring, and it's that motivation
that really keeps our programs alive.
Any tips you can give to the perspective
client and business owner?
Some of the most important things that
a new business owner or aspiring entrepreneur
need to remember is to be patient, to
set measurable and attainable goals
, and to PLAN ! Most
business ventures fail for no other reason
than that the entrepreneur did not plan
ahead and attempt to move forward and
a slow and steady pace. Planning
and goal-setting go for all aspects of
entrepreneurship, from marketing and operations
and ESPECIALLY with financials .
from general entrepreneurship education,
then, an aspiring business owner should
also look into a strongly structured financial
management training that can be found
at many not-for-profit credit counseling
and financial consulting organizations.
Many banks are also now offering
Where can people get more info on business
and creating one in general, locally?
For more general information, entrepreneurs
can visit their state and local government
offices and request more information on
starting a business in that area.
These locations will also have more detailed
information depending on the type of business
one wants to open. For education
and training purposes, entrepreneurs should
attempt to find organizations like the
Empowerment Group so that they can be
assured that they are ready to embark
on their venture.
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