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BizStarts expands entrepreneur program to Milwaukee's Latino community

Posted at 7:06 PM, Mar 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-30 20:06:43-04

BizStarts has been working to develop and coach entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds for the last several years.

So far, there's been three cohorts of 25 people that have complete the BizStarts Institute.

"It's a six week boot camp and what they learn is everything from operations, to creating their business model, to creating their profit model," said BizStarts Executive Director Patrick Snyder.

So far, the organization has been focused on building up business owners in Milwaukee's Black community.

Pierre Ndongue, who owns EcoClean, was part of the first cohort at BizStarts in 2020.

Ndongue said his business specializes "in commercial cleaning services and mobile car detailing. We are committed to providing top-notch cleaning services while also being mindful of the environment."

Although he started his business in 2018, he said the program helped him grow his business. Before connecting with BizStarts, he said he had trouble securing funding.

"One of the most challenging aspects of starting my business was the funding," he said. "My wife and I had to use our savings to start our business."

According to a U.S. Federal reserve study, Black entrepreneurs are denied loans nearly twice as often as white business owners. For many minority-owned businesses, access to capitals is one of the biggest barriers to starting and growing businesses.

Along with providing training and education, helping business-owners fund their ideas is what BizStarts aims to do.

"We're developing the ecosystem to be an alternative to major banks that these entrepreneurs may not meet the requirements for," Cumberbatch said.

Because of the success the program has already had, it's expanding to serve Milwaukee's Latino entrepreneurs this fall.

BizStarts Board Chair Frank Cumberbatch said they're focused on listening to what those in the Latino community say will be the most valuable to them.

"Where do they see opportunities? Where is there a market? What are the gaps in their knowledge?" Cumberbatch said.

The program they develop for the fall will be bilingual and they plan on bringing in Latino mentors in the business community.

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