Free Entrepreneurship Training

If you haven’t noticed, there has been a lot of talk about Entrepreneurship in the news. Why, you ask? Simple answer, unemployment rates are still high so the demand is great for those who can create jobs.  Sadly, the many people who have great ideas, services, and/or products aren’t sure how or when to get started. Well, a few weeks ago while attending a social networking event; I came across an organization that provided Free Entrepreneurial Development Training! Now before I go any further, this program is a local Southern Jersey/Philadelphia resource geared towards serving people of this region. However, don’t be dismayed, perhaps it’s destiny that you read about this particular program, maybe it’s time you became the person who steps up to the plate to create a similar agency in your area. Either way, let’s have a look inside what this program has to offer.

The nonprofit organization that provides free entrepreneurship training is called LAEDA– Latin American Economic Development Association, Inc. LAEDA has been around for about 23 years. (By the way, no you do not have to be Latin American to participate in their programs.) LAEDA was established to create small business ownership opportunities for all minorities and progressively develop the commercial marketplace in the City of Camden and beyond. The training program is a small piece of the bigger picture that offers budding entrepreneurs the opportunity to fine tune their ideas to best serve Camden, NJ. While taking their intensive training course, program participants will learn many things including: Marketing, Accounting, Technology training, and how to create a Business Plan, just to name a few. As a bonus, all graduates receive ongoing support including free seminars that are scheduled throughout the year.

I couldn’t believe they offered this program for free! There just had to be a catch. My curiosity led me to a phone conversation with the friendly and knowledgeable coordinator I met at the event, as well as the program coordinator who was extremely engaging and helpful.  I asked some questions and they had no problem supplying the answers. So here are a few facts you may not notice on their website:

  1. The program is not just for Camden Residents however, they ask that your business help serve the city of Camden in some capacity.
  2. You have to be accepted into the program, which there is a process that leads you to a face to face interview with the program coordinator and the CEO to see if you fit the criteria for program approval. If you don’t, they explain what you need to work on so that you can apply again more prepared.
  3. The general criteria isn’t as scary as you think it is, they just require that you have a business idea that is viable, feasible, and that you’re willing to do what you must to turn your dream into reality.
  4. When you are put on a very brief phone hold you are delightfully entertained with a compilation of fun Latino music that makes you want to dance in your seat.

In all seriousness, the program looks extremely helpful and the staff gave me the impression that they really care about their program graduates.  They even work with you if you develop stage fright about your business idea and decide to come back to them years later. Just read the testimonies.

So what are you waiting for? Dream Big, Soar High! If you know any more resources for Entrepreneurship training in New Jersey and beyond don’t be stingy, share the resources you never know if the next Bill Gates may come out of one these programs.

Healthcare for the Uninsured

You have just lost your job, started a new business, or don’t get sick often and so you never enroll in your company medical coverage plan. Your former employer offers you Cobra insurance because during your employment you contributed to the group medical plan and therefore, you’re eligible for it. Some time after your job loss you receive a notice of unemployment benefits and wonder how in the world do people survive off of this kind of income? Afterwards, you cringe at the thought of your non-existent or insufficient emergency savings account, take your chances and decide against Cobra. Guess who catches the flu after never getting sick, ever? There go those chances.

 We’ve all heard the complaints about the rising healthcare costs in America. I’ve also complained about the outrageous co-pays and deductibles. Even with insurance you can get slammed with disastrous medical bills after a surgery or unforeseen medical crisis.  Not trying to take away from the legitimacy behind the need for healthcare reform; I must admit those $10, $25, or even $50 emergency room co-pays are answered prayers to the uninsured.

 One emergency room visit landed me a $400 bill from the hospital and a $400 dollar bill from the physician! Oh and that blessed charity care, well apparently it’s up to the physician if he/she will accept it. After the over an hour wait followed by a 10 minute consultation with prescription writing, $800 is absolutely ridiculous. So I had to do some research and trust me this is only the beginning. In New Jersey if you have kids they recommend that you apply for NJ Family Care. As for me, the childless, you have to dig a little deeper. Eventually, I found some resources (I’ve listed them at the bottom of this post), which led me to a healthcare facility that required no insurance and co-pay was based on my income. Needless to say, I will have to write an entire post about my experience as well as a few others experiences dealing with low-costs to free healthcare facilities. Based on my findings alone, I don’t believe I’m alone in saying more help is needed. I want to challenge those who are interested in helping low-income families in the health care sector to: open more facilities, offer better resources, and truly seek out competent and passionate individuals for employment.

Camden, NJ Layoffs

Unemployment is hitting home and hurting the livelihood of many families.  In some areas the loss of certain jobs are affecting not only the pockets of the unemployed, but the safety of the residents involved. On Tuesday, January 18th, the City of Camden, NJ laid off approximately 335 workers. Nearly half of its police force lost their jobs, as well as fire fighters and local government administrative workers.  

Is this really a big deal? Well let’s look at a few facts about Camden, NJ: Camden has been known to rank in the top 3 of the most dangerous cities in the US; Most of its residents are living below the national poverty line; As for local government, how about 3 recent mayors have been jailed for corruption.  So in short, yes- losing half of the police force is a very big deal. Now despite these crime stats, everyone from Camden is not a gang member or a drug dealer. We cannot forget the innocent children, senior citizens, and mentally ill. There are also many people living in this city who are earnestly involved in trying to bring Camden back to the thriving business center it once was before its downfall. These people chose to come to this city to build businesses, hospitals, and schools, offering residents help and employment. Taking away these service-related jobs is just another slap in the face to the efforts of community advancement.

Instead of community re-development people are mourning the death of their beloved city. I have even come across a Facebook page with over 4000 “friends” calling for Camden to Rest in Peace. This is truly a sad event to have taken place. I’m praying for the underserved and underprivileged, as well as the men and women who honestly put their lives on the line to protect and serve this community.

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