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Business Expo Showcases MoneyWork$ Graduates
Opening Doors' MoneyWork$ Program Enables Burgeoning Business Owners to Reach New Heights
For the new business owners who participated in Opening Doors' Business Expo at the Mexican Consulate on December 3- 5, the idea of owning a business would have seemed like a distant dream just a few years ago. Because of Opening Doors' microenterprise and personal finance assistance programs, it is now a reality. All of the 14 participants at the three-day event are graduates of the MoneyWork$ program and recipients of many other services we offer through the Prosperity Project.
The purpose of the Expo was two-fold. For the participants, the event was a great opportunity to display their business to the public, network with other start-up owners, and do some advertisement. For Opening Doors, it was a chance to inform others about our services.
The participating businesses ranged from decorating services to photography and video studios. The majority of the business owners were women, and for most, building a first business was an amazing feat and the attainment of an empowering personal goal. Through MoneyWork$, all have seen positive transformations in their lives. With focus and hard work, they have gone from struggling with issues like personal credit to starting a business from scratch in just a couple of years.
Since this is the first time Opening Doors has facilitated an Expo like this, the process began with interested personsattending a brain-storming session. The group shared ideas about how to make the event successful, and worked together to plan its details. The participants also began getting to know each other during the planning process and continued to network at the event. While there was no direct selling at the Expo, all were able to make contact with new customers. For example, the Expo helped one business owner meet her sales quota for the year. For another, attending a public marketing event like this was a first, and felt daunting. But she conquered her fears and enjoyed participating as a professional. In the end she felt very empowered by the experience.
The expos are unique opportunities for business owners to learn, network, and expand their business. By attending, they will increase their client base and connect with other business owners who can help them improve their business strategies. Maria hopes the program receives additional funding in order to expand the expos and create a responsible and united group to accomplish its goals.
The Business Expo was also a tremendous success for Opening Doors, highlighting our services such as MoneyWork$, Bank on Sacramento, and the newer City of West Sacramento Microenterprise Assistance Program. What better way to promote the services we offer than through glowing testimonials from business owners who are grateful of our role in their success? With the pro bono support of three radio stations from Adelante Media Group, 94.3, 93.9 and 97.9, the event also got some great media coverage. Our strong relationship with the Mexican Consulate enabled the facilitation of the event in their gallery, which was open to the public. The Consulate also promoted it on their website. The turnout reached 300 guests, with about 25 people who signed up on-site for Opening Doors' programs. The event continues to generate buzz, with Roxana, our Spanish MoneyWork$ director, receiving calls from interested parties since.
Participants found the event a great success. Since most were immigrants from Mexico, the fact that the Expo took place at the Mexican Consulate provided them with a strong sense of support. All agreed that they would like to see more Expos in the future, involving additional Opening Doors' graduates who were unable to attend this event. A planning meeting is being scheduled for January.