West End Neighborhood House


The Launcher Program: Learn How to Grow

El Tiempo Hispano

Many of us have the idea of ​​starting a business and we do not know how to do it, what are the rules or just how a business is managed in the United States; or maybe we have started some and we see that it is difficult for us to progress.

In Delaware, a training program is now available for small businesses that are going to start or seek to expand in low-income neighborhoods.

Mike McCafferty, director of the program based in West End Neighborhood in Wilmington, explains the objectives of this training program for small entrepreneurs, saying initially that the area they intend to serve is West Wilmington, Claymont, Bellefonte, Edgmore, the city of Dover and have also accepted people from the New Castle area.

“We focus on the community,” explains Mike, “our goal is that the small businesses in our communities that we are going to help are the ones who are going to change the community, the ones who will hire people and find target products within the community. Once we have small businesses, we can change that community.”

“The program started 25 years ago in Minnesota and we applied that experience in Delaware,” says Mike. “It’s not going to happen all at once. First we need to build the trust of the people, and after we have several businesses, people will acknowledge us. We have had two classes in Spanish, 16 people who have started or improved their businesses. We are confident that they will be the biggest job creators in the Hispanic community in Delaware, and that is an important point.”

According to Mike, something that differentiates this program, by the way completely in Spanish, is that “if our students complete their credits, we can get them a “character” loan, which is a loan with no collateral guarantee, for up to $25,000, which implies trust in the entrepreneur.”

As an example, Mike mentions a Hispanic cleaning company that was able to double its service offer in less than a year, thanks to the program. Another one is Angel, who went from being a poorly paid employee, to having 40 employees … and his business continues to grow.

“Also,” says Mike, “we have found that not everyone has a social security number, and for these loans, by law, people must have it, so we ask ourselves how we can help those who have a TIN number, and for that we have created a partnership with a Philadelphia company, Finanta, who offers our students small business loans.”

Mr. Dunieski Landa, the Spanish class professor, intervenes to clarify that those who complete the 12-week classes program, have 90% of the path resolved for the request of this type of low interest loans, and without collateral. The other 10% is covered by having a business, a license to operate it.

The 12-week program, with classes on Wednesdays from 6 to 8 pm, is not free; it has a cost of $2,500, but the program, through funds provided by the investment bank Barclays, finances $2,400, so the participant only pays the registration fee of $100.

“The important thing here,” adds Landa, “is that people who follow the program acquire tools to better manage their business, through a business plan, accounting management, inventories, etc., and access to credits that allow them to improve and grow. Above all, think in a comprehensive way about your business so that it is successful.”

Launcher is ready to help individuals who have the passion to bring their dreams to fruition by starting/expanding their business. The successful participant should:

· Have a focused business idea​

· Be willing to spend time outside of class researching and writing business plan​

· Have the desire to invest in their ideas

· Live or plan to set-up business in Launcher neighborhoods

Therefore, anyone who has the intention to improve their business in one of the communities that the program serves can take advantage of this program available in both English and Spanish. You also have the opportunity to share with certain professionals who teach you from their own experience. The next class starts on Wednesday, January 23 at 710 North Lincoln Street in Wilmington and it is still possible to sign up, so go ahead and contact Mike McCafferty at mmccafferty10@comcast.net.