The next best start-up platform: church?

Your local church or temple may not be the first place that jumps to mind to turn to when you’re launching a business. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) sees otherwise, and plans to use local close knit spiritual to launch their latest venture, the Business Smart Toolkit.

This handy program is a ready-to-use workshop toolkit that equips faith-based and community organizations to help new and aspiring entrepreneurs launch and build businesses that are credit ready.

“We can’t wait for aspiring entrepreneurs to come to us; we need to reach out to them where they are,” said SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet. “The Business Smart Toolkit allows us to work more effectively alongside local partners in underserved communities to ensure that all Americans have access to the government and private resources available to support their entrepreneurial dreams.”

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The program’s approach is also specifically geared to target the booming field of minority-owned small business, including immigrant and Caribbean-American enterprises, says Contreras-Sweet.

“Minority firms are a fast growing segment of the U.S. economy, generating $1 trillion in economic output, yet they typically encounter higher borrowing costs, receive smaller loans and face more rejections,” says Contreras-Sweet. “We wanted to focus on expanding lending to underserved communities to ensure that all key drivers of the U.S. economy are able to contribute at their full potential.”

The toolkit is designed to “train-the-trainer,” such as trusted community leaders, so they can lead a series of workshops in collaboration with the SBA. The toolkit is specifically designed to educate new and potential business owners – from those looking to open their first small business, to established business owners hoping to expand and grow. It contains a variety of small business and financial literacy topics that include business start-up basics, the essentials of becoming credit-ready, and resources for small business education and support. All materials are also easily available as a download from the SBA website.

“This new toolkit is another demonstration of SBA’s commitment to ensuring accessibility to high-quality information,” said Francisco “Pancho” A. Marrero, SBA South Florida District Director, “so that small business owners from every community across the nation receive the relevant assistance required to propel their companies forward.”

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