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Stories of Nonprofit Impact: Fostering Prosperity for Small Businesses + Individuals

by Jessica Lantos

MANP recently release the 3rd edition of Partners in Prosperity: The Maine Nonprofit Sector Impact, which showcases the powerful social and economic impact of nonprofits in our state. We’ve been featuring stories from the report here on our blog, and encourage nonprofits, public officials, and community members to download and read the full report for free.

Our sixth featured story of nonprofit impact highlights the work of Maine Centers for Women, Work and Community.

Partners in Prosperity Case Study: Fostering Prosperity for Small Businesses +Individuals

The Impact

As part of its mission of helping women succeed in the Maine economy and achieve economic security for themselves and their families, Maine Centers for Women, Work, and Community (WWC) provided training and individual assistance at no charge to 1,476 individuals and awarded $7,680 in minigrants in FY2012. A 2010 survey of WWC-assisted micro businesses showed a 60% business start-up rate and a 97% survival rate after one year among those with an existing business. WWC services target displaced homemakers, single parents, older workers in transition, unemployed and dislocated workers and are provided at no cost to participants. Additionally initial data from a study of 2009-10 program graduates shows a trend line of increased earnings and additional educational enrollments within 12 – 16 months after training.

The Story Behind the Impact
WWC provides training and individual assistance in the areas of career development and educational attainment, small business and entrepreneurship development, asset development and financial education, and leadership development and civic engagement. Services are provided out of nine centers and eight outreach sites in six regions by a staff of twenty, augmented by work study students, interns and community volunteers. To reach more individuals throughout the state, saving time and energy in travel for rural residents, the WWC has also developed on-line training in career planning and money management. WWC-awarded mini-grants of $7,680, funded through private philanthropy, to 32 businesses. These grants were matched by an additional $1,920 in individual contributions to pay for marketing tools and collateral leading to additional revenues for web-developers, graphic designers, printers, sign makers and distributors, among other small enterprises. Four individuals were assisted in leveraging $335,000 in loans to start or expand their ventures from private and non-profit lenders. 62 individuals saved an average of $1,200 each for business expenses, home ownership or education in Family Development Accounts, which match individual savings 4 to 1 through funding from public and private investors.

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