Jan 24, 2021

PITTSFIELD — Mindy Miraglia wanted to start a company that provides walking tours of the Berkshires.

Her initial idea included having a hostel for hikers similar to what she had seen while hiking a well-known route in northwestern Spain. But, as Miraglia began to develop her business plan, she realized that the hostel idea wasn’t possible right now.

“So, I did a major pivot,” she said.

Miraglia since has opened her business sans hostel, but she credits Entrepreneurship for All Berkshire County — it’s an organization that helps individuals develop small businesses — with the insight to help her change course.

Despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, EforAll has provided 83 people like Miraglia with 3,300 hours of service since opening its Berkshire County chapter in September 2019, according to statistics the group posted recently, during an online webinar held to assess its local progress.

Sixty-four percent of those people had incomes below the average income for the Berkshires, based on national figures; 67 percent were women and 17 percent were minorities. The Berkshire County program is not bilingual, so, six Spanish-speaking members from Berkshire County were referred to EparaTodos, an EforAll program offered in Holyoke.

Of those 83 total participants, 21 participated in EforAll Berkshire County’s two core business accelerator programs that took place in winter and fall 2020, respectively. The other participants included mentors, specialists, judges, interviewers and readers. EforAll’s first accelerator program of 2021 is scheduled to start Feb. 23. The application deadline is Thursday.

“I’m so thrilled to see all the wonderful things that EforAll is doing,” said Mayor Linda Tyer, who helped bring the program to Pittsfield. “In spite of this devastating pandemic and all of the challenges that it has left in its wake, survival in tough times like these doesn’t happen by accident.”

She attributed EforAll’s local success to the organization’s “deliberate action” and “wide range of network support.”

“Pivoting during the pandemic is a powerful example for the entrepreneurs about how to pivot during a moment of crisis,” she said.