Free, yearlong Accelerator will provide under-represented individuals with targeted training, mentorship and support to launch successful small businesses and nonprofits
Worcester, MA – August 26, 2020 – Recognizing the importance of entrepreneurship to economic growth and job creation, the nonprofit Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll) announced today it is launching its free, 12-month Business Accelerator Program in Worcester and the surrounding communities, with sessions starting in January 2021. This fall, EforAll Greater Worcester will also hold its first Pitch Contest — an event open to everyone that offers an opportunity to validate a business idea, win cash prizes, network with local business owners and meet potential customers. Given COVID-19, these programs are expected to be held virtually until further notice.
With Greater Worcester, EforAll will provide programming in nine locations across Massachusetts, as well as in Longmont, CO. Since 2013, EforAll participants have started more than 500 businesses, leading to more than $25M in revenue and 720 new jobs, revitalizing main streets and spurring greater economic mobility.
Entrepreneur John Esler, who founded Esler Companies in 2004, and his wife Jeanne Esler led the fundraising campaign to bring EforAll to Worcester while looking for ways to invest in their community through the Esler Family Foundation.
“When my wife and I learned about EforAll in the Spring of 2020, COVID-19 was just beginning to have a devastating impact on many businesses. It struck us that the timing was perfect to launch an EforAll effort in the Worcester community,” said John Esler. “Fortunately, many individuals and organizations stepped up to support it. We have no doubt that the lives of all supporters and beneficiaries will immediately be enriched through EforAll, as will the greater Worcester community where the new ventures are located.”
Emmanuel Larbi, an immigrant from Ghana who opened the restaurant Accra Girls in 2017 and recently added a second location at Worcester Public Market, expressed excitement about the program’s launch. “As a young entrepreneur, I love the mission of EforAll’s program as it uses inclusive entrepreneurship as a vehicle to bring social impact while creating economic opportunities within the community,” said Larbi, a member of EforAll Greater Worcester’s founding committee. “Looking back on my journey, I wish I could have joined EforAll’s Accelerator program. The knowledge would have curbed some pitfalls and challenges. This program will equip entrepreneurs with the necessary tools and resources to succeed in the now and, more importantly, the future.”
EforAll’s proven approach helps under-resourced individuals successfully start and grow their businesses or nonprofits, across a wide range of industries including personal and professional services, food, manufacturing and online/traditional retail. The program offers a unique combination of immersive business training, dedicated mentorship and access to a professional network.
“EforAll will give under-represented entrepreneurs an opportunity to develop their skills and make it easier for them to access more traditional financing sources as they move out of the start-up phase,” said Monica M. Thomas-Bonnick, VP/Business Lending Officer at Webster Five and EforAll Greater Worcester founding committee member. “As these entrepreneurs grow their businesses, they will begin to create wealth for themselves and for the next generation, changing the community’s demographics.”
“We are thrilled that this proven program is expanding to Worcester. EforAll’s in-depth training and mentorship has increased the number of women- and minority-owned businesses across Massachusetts. EforAll will strengthen our local business community,” said Tim Murray, President and CEO of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce and EforAll Greater Worcester founding committee member.
Among the businesses started by EforAll participants, 74 percent are owned by women, 58 percent are owned by people of color, 46 percent are owned by immigrants and 39 percent are owned by people who were previously unemployed.
The EforAll Greater Worcester founding committee is currently fundraising to launch additional programming, including a peer-to-peer program called Entrepreneurs Forever (eforever) in which small business owners and entrepreneurs meet monthly to share their business experiences and learn from one another under the guidance of a trained facilitator, helping to ensure long-term success. Eforever is successfully deployed in eleven communities in Pennsylvania and in three EforAll communities: Cape Cod, Fall River/New Bedford and Lowell-Lawrence.
If you are interested in learning more about EforAll and its new Greater Worcester program, please visit eforall.org or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications for the January 2021 Business Accelerator are due in December. EforAll Greater Worcester is also currently looking to hire an executive director and program manager based in the Worcester area. Interested applicants can apply at https://eforall.org/careers/.
Edward Augustus, Jr. of the City of Worcester is the Honorary Chair of EforAll Greater Worcester’s Founding Committee, and John Esler is the Chair. Other founding committee members, who helped raise the funds to launch the program, include: Craig Bovaird of Built-Rite Tool & Die Inc./Reliance Engineering; Mary Casey of Harbor Law Group; Mike Covino of Niche Hospitality Group; Lee and Dina Gaudette of Gaudette Insurance Agency; J. Michael Grenon of Grimes & Company, Inc.; Abraham Haddad and John Weaver of Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives; John Haffty of Navin Haffty & Associates; Sheila Harrity of Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School District; Jeannie Hebert of Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce; Robyn Kennedy of YWCA, Central Massachusetts; Helder Machado of Machado Consulting; Susan Mailman of Coghlin Electrical Contractors, Inc.; Barry M. Maloney and Elaine Vescio of Worcester State University; Robert A. (Bart) McCracken of Immedia Event Productions; Satya Mitra of The Guru Tax & Financial Services Inc.; Joe Pagano of Pagano Media; Luis G. Pedraja of Quinsigamond Community College; Peter Stanton of the Worcester Business Journal; and Eric Torkornoo of TD Bank.
Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll) is a nonprofit organization that partners with communities nationwide to help under-represented individuals successfully start and grow a business through intensive business training, mentorship and an extended professional support network. To date, EforAll alumni have launched more than 500 businesses and created more than 700 local jobs. Programs are available in both English and Spanish. EforAll is currently available in the following MA communities: Berkshire County, Cape Cod, Fall River/New Bedford, Worcester, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, and Roxbury as well as Longmont CO. To learn more about EforAll, please visit eforall.org.