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Washington C.A.S.H.: Help Low-Income Entrepreneurs Build Businesses

Washington Community Alliance for Self-Help (C.A.S.H.) is a nonprofit working to alleviate poverty right here in Seattle, by helping entrepreneurs become financially self sufficient. As part of our Partner Spotlight series for Give Together November, we asked the organization some questions about this month’s project:

What’s your mission, and why? What inspires your organization?

Washington C.A.S.H. provides the business training, supportive community, and capital to help enterprising individuals with limited financial resources gain self-sufficiency through small business ownership. We serve individuals at the most vulnerable end of the economic spectrum: people whose assets and wealth have been greatly depleted by the economic downturn, and whose circumstances — including English language barriers, lack of literacy or education, poor or nonexistent credit, or cycles of persistent generational poverty— prevent them from advancing out of low-paying, inflexible employment. Our programs equip people to take ownership over their financial situations by becoming their own bosses and making a living pursuing their passion—whether that is landscaping, handcrafting jewelry, or selling gourmet pizzas a farmers’ markets and street fairs.

What’s your project for this month’s Give Together campaign?

Washington C.A.S.H.’s cornerstone 8-week Business Development Training equips low-income entrepreneurs with the skills and knowledge they need to become financially self-reliant through small business ownership. For financially vulnerable individuals, the BDT is a lifeline to help them build their confidence and define, organize, and launch their own micro-businesses.

What’s the impact of every $100 that our Give Together members raise for your organization?

Every quarter, at least twenty ambitious entrepreneurs want to enroll in the BDT but are unable to pay for course materials. This month, Washington C.A.S.H. seeks contributions to its “scholarship fund” to cover material fees for individuals enrolling in the next round of trainings. For every $100 that Give Together raises for this project, Washington C.A.S.H. will be able to waive the course materials fee for one low-income entrepreneur to enroll in the BDT and take their first step toward financial self-reliance.

In a nutshell, why should Give Together members support your project this month? 

  • Washington C.A.S.H. serves only low-income individuals; the average entrepreneur supports a family on $22,267 per year.
  • Washington C.A.S.H. is unique in the Puget Sound region in that it offers aspiring entrepreneurs a comprehensive toolbox of services that includes training, coaching, financial assistance (micro loans and matched savings accounts), AND retail incubation through the Ventures retail store.
  • Washington C.A.S.H. is remarkably successful: on average, businesses more than quadruple their revenue, and just over half (51%) of clients experience an increase in household income, within the first year and a half of receiving services.

We love impact reports at Jolkona. Do you have a favorite story you can share about how your organization changed someone’s life?

Before finding Washington C.A.S.H., Nelson faced challenging circumstances; he spent years in and out of homeless shelters and battling mental illness. Then a counselor referred him to our program, and Nelson began working closely with one of our experienced business coaches. Through customized training and coaching, Nelson learned how to overcome obstacles to the success of his business. Staff at Washington C.A.S.H.’s Ventures retail store in Pike Place Market helped Nelson refine his products and prepare them for larger markets. Now, nearly two years later, Nelson is CEO of Organic Teas United LLC and sells unique organic tea blends in several large retail outlets throughout the Pacific Northwest, including Uwajimaya. Nelson is proud to be a client of Washington C.A.S.H.; he says, “The program reminds me of essential vitamins…our bodies won’t function optimally without the essentials.”

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Our services helps people change their lives; with your help, a struggling single mother becomes CEO of her own small business; a disabled veteran launches his own company; or a young ambitious immigrant family opens up shop in their new country.

Give Together today to empower low-income entrepreneurs to become financially self-sufficient through small business ownership!

Check back on the Jolkona Blog for more installments of the Partner Spotlight series.

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