A Job a Day, A Business a Week

By Douglas A. Craven, Development Coordinator for ECDI

Create a job a day, a business a week. This isn't another slogan. This is the track record -- proven over eight years -- of the Economic and Community Development Institute, headquartered in Columbus, Ohio. The core of ECDI's mission, since the beginning, has been providing growing businesses with access to capital programs, such as business lending and grants and the know-how to use the money wisely. In just 8 years, ECDI has helped start more than 2,000 businesses creating and retaining over 4,000 jobs.

When you walk down your local Main Street you might grab a coffee, browse a small book store or hit up the local bakery. You see small business success all around you. What you don't see are the trials and tribulations the owners of small businesses endure in order to become self-sufficient and sustainable parts of your community.

According to the U.S Small Business Administration, over 50 percent of small businesses fail in the first five years. A lack of planning, financial literacy and understanding of the market/climate are all reasons why small businesses struggle to get off the ground.

That is where ECDI steps in -- to provide essential guidance to ultimately ensure the continued sustainability of small business. While ECDI does provide small business loans, we believe it takes more than just money to get a successful small business started. We work extensively one-on-one with each entrepreneur before and after they receive their loan to ensure they have big picture understanding of what it takes to keep a business thriving in 2013. This could be as simple as offering a class in Quick Books to a more extensive ongoing marketing campaign utilizing ECDI's resources and connections to help the business grow.

An example of recent small business success is Nadira Abdiraminam. She is just one of many successful entrepreneurs ECDI has helped guide through the start-up process. Abdiraminam came to the United States from Somalia in 1998. Her American dream included owning her own business. For years, her vision was to bring healthy eating options with Northern African flair to young people near The Ohio State University.

She started a small café, Solay Bistro, near campus. One year after opening, she was ready to expand but wasn't sure where to start. Abdiraminam came to ECDI. Through our programs, she was able to receive the capital and one-on-one assistance she needed to expand her business.

Today, Solay Bistro is arguably one the best ethnic food eateries in Columbus. The restaurant has been featured in many local and national publications, and even USA Today. The café has become a staple of Columbus Food Adventures as well as a hot spot for those passing through town.

What's more, the influence of her business goes far beyond her employees and customers.

Many of her ingredients are locally sourced. This adds value to the local economy in a way that eating at a chain restaurant cannot. The growth of Abdiraminam's business directly created eight jobs but helps support many other in the community.

She credits thorough training and a loan from ECDI for her success.

In 2004, ECDI founder & CEO, Inna Kinney, herself the product of a small-business-founding first-generation-immigrant family, realized that there was a missing link between ideas like Abdiraminam's and the funds needed to make them successful. She realized that a non-profit microlender could fill this void and generate tools to aid budding businesses like budgeting, marketing, advising, planning and workplace strategies.

Now, ECDI is recognized as the seventh largest Small Business Administration microlending non-profit organization in the country. With the commitment of nurturing entrepreneurs through financial education and mentoring, ECDI is turning dreams into realities for many people in Ohio.