Friday, June 26, 2009

An entrepreneurial stimulus

Over recent months, I've been boring my economist husband with views on what governments ought to be doing in response to the financial crisis, beyond bank bailouts - i.e. extending bridging funds to small businesses and putting in place more effective safety nets for individuals and families in trouble. Well, today I found a great article on CNN about an Ethiopian woman who is working to support communities in New Jersey in exactly this way. Alfa Demmellash watched her mother struggle to thrive economically, first in Ethiopia and then in the US. This inspired her to develop ways to support underserved entrepreneurs - especially women - to develop their business management skills in order to increase their prosperity. She founded the non-profit Rising Tide Capital, with her now husband, which has so far provided training and other support to more than 250 small businesses. 70% of those helped are single mothers. The CNN article includes several quotes from business owners who have increased their profits significantly whilst working with Alfa and her colleagues, which is amazing in the current economic context. If initiatives like these were taken to scale, it might be possible to stimulate the economy from the bottom up - possibly more effective than hoping bank bailouts will somehow trickle down...

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