The Monroe Foundation, working in collaboration with ACCION Chicago brought an inspiring workshop to Austin on Friday, July 10th held in the CAPS Community Room at the 15th District Police Station. Together, they are providing real and practical resources for Westsiders looking to launch or grow businesses. A group of over 20 aspiring and active entrepreneurs attended the workshop which provided information about Chicago’s own crowd funding platform – Kickstarter/Seed Chicago.

Seed Chicago is Accion Chicago’s curated Kickstarter page that highlights small businesses and community development projects that will grow jobs, facilitate economic activity, revitalize communities or promote education and training.

Those in attendance of the event were eager to learn about what it takes to turn their business ideas into an income producing reality. Haley Marceau from Accion Chicago presented on how to use the Kickstarter crowd funding platform. Through a web-based portal, entrepreneurs are able to present their ideas to the public and solicit funding for everything from startup needs to acquiring needed equipment to grow their businesses.

Haley very clearly broke the process down for the group. Her encouragement was that the person should be able to:

  1. Clearly state what the product or service is being promoted.

  2. Identify who cares about it as potential funding partners.

  3. Correctly identify how much funding is needed to complete the project.

This workshop was just an introduction into even better business-building opportunities that will be occurring in the next few months. On August 1st the Monroe Foundation will be offering a program orientation and registration event for their Small Business Development Boot Camp occurring in September and October. The Boot Camp is a focused 8-week program helping those seeking to launch or strengthen businesses with sound strategic and financial tools to help them succeed.

Otis Monroe, the CEO of The Monroe Foundation, is passionate about enhancing the economic strength of the Black community, in the case of the Small Business Boot Camp specifically Austin, Lawndale, East and West Garfield, and Humboldt Park. When asked Mr. Monroe stated that the purpose to “building businesses in the Black community is to build Black capacity to operate efficiently, effectively, and profitably.” Mr. Monroe has brought significant partners to the table to help accomplish that goal including JP Morgan Chase, underwriting the “KICKSTARTER” Boot Camp workshops, and Citi Community Development, underwriting the fall, 2015 Small Business Boot Camp Training Project at the Malcolm X College Westside Learning Center in September, 2015.

For more information about the upcoming Boot Camp go to  

Dawn Ferencak

Dawn Ferencak likes to go behind the scenes when connecting with her customers to create ways to help make their businesses grow beyond their expectations. What she didn't expect, when she started working...