17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Empowering Moms Through Small Business

I encountered my first microlender program at work when I was passing through a village in the Andes Mountains while spending a semester abroad in Chile.

These woman sold beautiful black clay pottery unique to the region (I’d attach pictures….but my two little monkeys have managed to break my entire collection! I’m trying to put a positive spin on the situation and say it’s a good excuse to return back).

Anyhow, these women were different than other merchants I had encountered during my travels. They knew the value of their work and did not haggle with Westerners. They kept careful accounting records of their sales and inventory. They were true businesswomen.

That very day I threw away my law school applications and started searching for an MBA program with a strong non-profit emphasis.

More than any other tool to break the “cycle of poverty”, a successful small business can empower women throughout the world to be financially independent, be confident and to likewise raise independent, confident and educated children.

With a little cash and a lot of hard work, SAHMs (or anyone for that matter) can reap some of these benefits as well. Oprah magazine recently featured stories of women in business, including a mom who started a mail-order cookie business in order to finance her kid’s college educations. Some of us in the Tales crew have also built successful small businesses while juggling young children and other responsibilities.

If you are a potential momtrepreneur (thanks for that word, Chloe!) here is a mini-guide on how to get started:

1. Find an idea. It doesn’t have to be a new idea….but it does need to have a market (people willing to purchase the good or service).

2. Write a business plan. Keep it simple, but make sure that key questions can be answered.

3. Obtain proper licensure for your business. This process varies by state. Most state government websites have a “Department of Licensures” or something similar that should explain what your state requires to set up shop.

4. Need financing? Check out Count-Me-In, a by-women, for-women microlender that also offers free consulting and online business education classes. (They’re great - I’ve worked with them on projects).

Other financing options might include a small business loan through the SBA, a traditional bank loan, or an angel investor who will GIVE you money for a portion of ownership in the business. Or you can always hit up your rich Uncle Fred for an early inheritance.

5. Get Started!!!!

Good luck and have fun! And if you have any great business ideas, feel free to send them my way….I’d love to EMPOWER myself a little!$!$!$!$!$!$!$!$!$!$!$!$!$!$!$


  • I have two ideas. One a VERY cool laundromat. And two, a Royal Tea Party house where people can bring their little girls to have a party with a princess. We would also cater to other party ideas (other characters, boy parties with knights or something...) So maybe when I am not out promoting Brand KAGE (as chloe calls me), in all my spare time I will work on these other two ideas.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 1/28/2006 08:19:00 PM  

  • Do you know of any reputable micro-lending programs that we could donate money to? I have always liked this idea, but I did some searching and it seems that most are govt or ngo funded but not set up for smallish private donations.
    posted by Blogger Julie M. Smith at 1/28/2006 08:38:00 PM  

  • Great post!! This is very specific to me right now and I needed a kick in the butt. :-) I have a 2 really great ideas and just needed the push to get going.

    Keep it coming!
    posted by Blogger Island Queen at 1/29/2006 12:30:00 AM  

  • Julie- there is a fund I used to do work with called "The Global Fund for Women" managed out of Palo Alto, CA. The money all comes from donors, some of them very small, (including myself). ALL of the money goes toward supporting women's small businesses all over the world. I beleive it was started by an Indian woman, in order to help start small chicken farms for poor women in India.

    That said, last year I began a small business from my home, and have found great satisfaction in not only contributing financial to our family, but in getting back out in the world a little bit too.

    Doing something from home is the perfect way for moms with little kids to keep thier sanity, still be there as 'mom', and keep our brains from turning to applesauce.
    posted by Blogger Tracy M at 1/29/2006 11:15:00 AM  

  • Jen, awesome post. I've been so proud to help some of our momtrepreneurs move their businesses online - my own little way of contributing, since the ideas and drive to do it myself do not seem to be forthcoming!

    Julie, I seem to remember a discussion about microlenders on another LDS blog sometime in the last year, which mentioned one run by some LDS folks that I think had either a donation or an investment aspect to it. The problem being I may be mischaracterizing this, and I cannot for the life of me find the post to refresh my memory! I though it was at T&S, but if it was, I'm unable to unearth it in my searching. Maybe another blog surfer will remember and point us in the right direction - anyone?
    posted by Blogger marian at 1/29/2006 01:23:00 PM  

  • Thanks so much for posting this! It could not have come at a better time for me. As a stay at home wife who cares for aging parents, I need something to bring in a little extra. Your post could not have been more perfect! Great links and all!! :)
    posted by Blogger Aimee "Roo" at 1/29/2006 02:06:00 PM  

  • Julie, if you want to donate to some small businesses overseas, you can look up and donate to some projects through the Peace Corps at http://www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=resources.donors.volproj

    I have read that in the third world, it is preferable to donate to women-owned businesses because they are much more likely to put their profits back into their community in a positive way (like taking on a partner or loaning to a friends' start-up) and, of course, feeding their children than men are.
    posted by Blogger a spectator at 1/29/2006 05:38:00 PM  

  • Jen, thanks for a well written, well thought out post.

    I picked Jen's brain and sent her my haphazard business plan when I started my business and she was so supportive and full of great ideas. So a public thank you to Jen.

    Kage, I like the cool laundromat idea. NYC needs more of those and Astoria REALLY needs one. That would be a cool idea with a customer base built right in. Heck, we may be able to fit this into brand KAGE...

    Jen, I was wondering if you know much about grants for women small business owners?
    posted by Blogger chloe at 1/29/2006 06:26:00 PM  

  • Julie,

    I give to two microcredit orgs...Count-Me-In (US based) and the Grameen Foundation (international). As far as I know, both rely on private rather than govt funding.


    I know enough about small business grants to know they are hard to receive. The SBA, for example, offers small business loans but no grants....I'm pretty sure of that.

    Your best bet would probably be a local "women in business" organization...they will every so often sponsor contests and the winner will receive a chunk of cash and free consulting or something like that. I actually had a friend just win one in Portland (I helped her write the bplan!) It was an idea for a bed and breakfast in Portland's Chinatown. She won $20,000 which sounds great...but it has to go towards her business and that amount barely puts a dent in the start-up costs involved. I am encouraging her to get a loan and do it...but it's easy for me to tell her to take that risk...

    Anyways, I'll keep my eyes peeled for you....there are opportunities out there for grants...just few and far between.
    posted by Blogger Jen at 1/29/2006 06:54:00 PM  

  • Jen, great post. I have been climbing the entrepreneur mountain for about a year. My patent has been approved (provisionally) so I can begin to market my product. My fear is that I may get a large order and then not have sufficient resources to fulfill the order. Aaack! Your resources will be helpful. Thanks! My invention is on my website. Click on the sunspots link if you're interested in a socal idea.
    posted by Blogger chronicler at 1/30/2006 01:19:00 PM  

  • Great stuff!I needed this inspirtion as well. I have a degree in printing which I used when I first graduated college, but now with three beautiful babies and 5 years out of the business (which is light years in the technology indusrty) my knowledge seems obsolete. Lately I have been feeling as if my brain is turning into applesauce. Thanks for the push. Now I just need a couple of good ideas.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 11/16/2006 08:39:00 PM  

  • Great stuff!I needed this inspirtion as well. I have a degree in printing which I used when I first graduated college, but now with three beautiful babies and 5 years out of the business (which is light years in the technology indusrty) my knowledge seems obsolete. Lately I have been feeling as if my brain is turning into applesauce. Thanks for the push. Now I just need a couple of good ideas.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 11/16/2006 08:40:00 PM  

  • Interesting post, thank you! Maybe there are some franchise opportunities for moms?:)
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 10/02/2007 08:01:00 AM  

  • I started my business 5 months ago and it has already brought in an extra $9,000 for our family. My husband is not working full-time right now and so this money pulled us through with our mortgage for the last few months.
    This post was great and I encourage you all to dream and go for it! I love being my own boss and doing things on my own time. But best of all, I love that I can be there for my family and be the best mom I can be to my boys! To view a slide show of my Mosaic memories business go to www.cafemom.com/home/toughguykyler

    Sandie Haskins
    posted by Anonymous Toughguy's mom at 1/25/2008 01:35:00 PM  

  • Wow! this post seems to have motivated new women business owners to be!
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 11/28/2008 06:23:00 PM  

  • Nice Post
    free article generator
    posted by Blogger zang at 12/27/2008 06:53:00 AM  

  • Hi, Jen. This is truly an awesome idea for moms at home! It is a good way for moms to enjoy other activities aside from baby-sitting. My wife have always wanted to be a businesswoman, so when a lending company granted her credit card financing for her start-up business, she didn't hesitate to take it. Now, her business is booming and she feels fulfilled as a mom and as a woman. So if you have a great business idea and you are ready for the challenge, apply for merchant loans to start your business. Don't be afraid to take risks because it maybe the only opportunity of a lifetime.
    posted by Anonymous John Lair at 10/25/2010 09:24:00 PM  

  • Since the new economy is so well suited to support new business ideas for moms, now is the time to begin your new life... from home.
    top business idea for moms
    posted by Blogger Layne Adams at 2/14/2013 01:07:00 AM  

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