As a student about to graduate and enter “the real world” in a couple months, the question I most dread hearing is, “So what are you going to do after graduation?” I’m sure you can relate, especially considering the tough economy and job market we are about to enter.
I have been working as an intern at Accion East and Online over the past month. Accion is a nonprofit microlender that is driving job creation all across the United States, making this question that students all across the country are asking themselves a little less scary.
This story of one of Accion’s borrowers really touched me in particular. Meet Sarah.
After finishing grad school, Sarah struggled to find an academic job related to what she had studied. In Sarah’s words, “In this economy, it just wasn’t going to happen.” For Sarah, sewing was a creative outlet, and her husband suggested she open her own sewing store. She decided to give it a try, and opened Grey’s Fabrics & Notions in the artsy Sowa district of Boston.
After two years of paying for inventory out of pocket, Sarah wanted to expand the store but were having trouble securing financing. “We could tell right away that we didn’t have strong enough credit,” explained Sarah.
Then Sarah found Accion. She was approved for a $15,000 loan, which she used to invest in more inventory and products for her store. Sarah was also able to hire an employee to help her teach sewing classes, craft designs and run the store.
Sarah is just one of the many entrepreneurs that Accion helps to access the capital and support they need to grow their businesses, but can’t find elsewhere. Not only are these self-starters creating their own employment opportunities, but they are improving the employment outlook for others in their communities as well. In 2012, Accion businesses created and supported an average of 4.4 jobs each. …Did you know that “micro” businesses represent 80% of all businesses in the U.S? If just one in three microenterprises hired a single employee, the US would be at full employment.
For those of you who don’t know about the Give-It-Away Campaign, JPMorgan decided not to hand out stickers and other freebies across college campuses this year (that, let’s be honest, would inevitably end up in the trash anyway). Instead, they are going to donate that money ($25,000!!) to organizations that are making a difference in their communities all across the globe and they are letting us vote on which ones. I’m voting for Accion, and I hope you will join me in making our job searches a little less grim this spring!