WASHINGTON – Smart phone users interested in starting or growing a small business can now find helpful resources at their fingertips via a new SBA mobile application from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
“Increasingly, smart phones are the vehicle through which Americans access information. This is certainly true of many entrepreneurs and small business owners and this new application ensures they will have access to SBA’s resources and programs – literally at their fingertips,” said SBA Administrator Karen G. Mills.
The mobile app will help users connect with SBA district office staff and SBA-affiliated counselors and mentors who can provide free, personalized small business assistance. The user-friendly format of the app will help answer questions such as: How do I start a business? Where can I go in my area to get free help with writing a business plan? And where do I begin finding funding for my business?
The SBA mobile app also features a built-in startup cost calculator to help estimate the costs associated with getting a business off the ground, plus an SBA partner locator to help users find SBA offices, Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers and SCORE.
Users will also have mobile access to SBA video content and social media alerts to provide them with tips on the go. This will include live updates from the SBA’s YouTube channel and from SBA’s Twitter feeds. The free mobile app can be downloaded from the SBA’s website at www.sba.gov/content/sba-mobile-app.
Originally posted in Neighborhood Notes, excerpted here.
By John Chilson
On the southern tip of Portland, where Multnomah and Clackamas counties crisscross boundaries, the Ardenwald-Johnson Creek neighborhood is host to a new tenant: a garden plot that’s helping an underserved community while providing local produce for hungry Portlanders.
The 2/3-acre garden, once covered in weeds, blackberries and fruit trees, is being transformed into a thriving garden, thanks to a partnership between MercyCorps Northwest and nonprofit Grow Portland. The site was formerly owned by the city, and MercyCorps Northwest acquired it two years ago as part of their New American Agricultural Project that helps refugee and immigrant growers start market gardens.
Grow Portland’s Lauren Morse works with three Nepalese families and says the garden provides a small income for them. “We help with the brand for all the produce and sell in two farmers’ markets in Portland. We also have a CSA program,” she says.
However, it’s more than scattering seeds, watering, harvesting and trucking off kale to farmers’ markets. There are a lot of logistics to figure out, especially for distribution, such as the timing of harvest, so produce can be picked up at certain times of the week and trucked to different places. Morse trucks the produce off to market when harvested as well as ensuring that the wheels are turning in the production of food. It’s a very grassroots operation.
We are honored and excited for this new learning opportunity and the potential to scale up our services. Press Release is excerpted in the blog, go here for full article.
The Aspen Institute and the Association for Enterprise Opportunity announced today the five organizations selected to be part of the Scale Academy for Microenterprise Development. The Scale Academy is a program that offers grant funding, peer learning events, and technical assistance to a set of high-performing microenterprise organizations that have demonstrated a commitment to scaling up to serve more clients through working to help low-income entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
The Academy is operated jointly by FIELD at the Aspen Institute (Microenterprise Fund for Innovation, Effectiveness, Learning and Dissemination) and the Association for Enterprise Opportunity, the trade association for microenterprise development programs in the US. Microenterprises are very small businesses requiring $50,000 or less in start-up capital and employing five or fewer people. The entrepreneurs targeted by microenterprise organizations tend to be women, minorities, immigrants, low-income and/or individuals with disabilities.
The five organizations, selected from among 33 applicants nationwide, are:
- Mercy Corps Northwest, Portland, Ore. With offices in Portland and Seattle, the organization served 958 clients in 2010 with business training, lending, Individual Development Accounts, and specially targeted services for the formerly incarcerated, refugees, and other high-risk populations. The Academy recognized Mercy Corps as a highly innovative organization and for its strategy to expand its microlending throughout Oregon and Washington using a new online portal for loan applications and a partnership referral program.
- MicroMentor, Portland, Ore. MicroMentor facilitates mentoring relationships between entrepreneurs and volunteer business mentors using a platform that integrates technology systems and other services to accelerate the growth of microenterprises. In 2010, it matched 900 entrepreneurs with mentors, and the organization aims to grow that, planning to make 2,500 matches in 2012. The Academy recognized MicroMentor for its total focus on scalability and its strategy to develop an affiliate program to help 150 microenterprise development organizations offer higher-quality mentoring services to disadvantaged entrepreneurs.
It is no secret identity theft can have damaging affects on consumer lives and businesses alike. Consumer outcry this past decade demanding businesses protect their personal information (PI) has been the driving force behind formation of state and federal protection legislation.
Identity theft and privacy legislation should be viewed as a wakeup call for all businesses. When asked, at a Security Conference in San Francisco, how businesses are suppose to know of the existence of identity theft legislation Former Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras responded by saying “It is the responsibility of anyone in business to seek out information on applicable identity theft laws which require compliance.”
For the past decade, lawmakers have been crafting and amending identity theft legislation in direct response to the millions of victims filing complaints received at the FTC in addition to the growing list of businesses who have experienced networks hacks and data breaches.
Since 2008, attacks against small business have been on the rise. Simply said, any business collecting personal information (i.e., name, address, phone, banking info, SSN, driver license, email addresses etc.), is a target. Those collecting PI are in scope of compliance and must look to laws as guidance in protecting all sensitive information collected in the course of conducting business.
Oregon ID Theft Law
Oregon businesses should pay particular attention to the “Oregon Identity Theft Consumer Protection Act” as this requires certain business practices be in place which not only protects customers but full compliance also serves to protect businesses against fines, penalties, sanctions, civil lawsuits and mounting defensive legal bills.
Federal ID Theft Law
Another federal privacy law, “Red Flags Rule” went into effect November 1, 2008. After several years of debate coupled with lawsuits filed by healthcare and legal organizations, the FTC enforcement of this law finally went into affect January 1, 2011. Businesses in scope of compliance with Red Flags Rule are those who directly extend “credit” for purchases of goods and services to customers or businesses using 3rd party financing in conjunction with sharing collected PI with the credit bureaus.
Payment Card Industry Requires Compliance
If a business accepts bank cards for transactions or payments, that business also needs to be in full compliance with the payment card industry data security requirements known as “Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards” or “PCI DSS”. Failure to adhere to payment card compliance standards can also result in fines and penalties in addition to those issued by state and federal agencies.
IT Support & Security Compliance Myth
Many small business owners are under assumption and misconception the person or contract business tasked with managing their IT services have compliance requirements well under control. This cannot be further from reality. Truth is, it is rare the responsibility of compliance is even a function of services provided by anyone conducting IT support ¾ meaning most likely a small business not addressing compliance internally as part of its best practices is out of full compliance with state and federal privacy laws as well as payment card industry requirements.
To learn more about identity theft legislation and the impact on your business, Mercy Corps Northwest invites you to register for “How Identity Theft Laws Impact Your Business” to be held on Tuesday, May 17th
About the Presenter
Brenda Eaden has enjoyed a rich 20+ year background within the technology industry. Career emphasis has been in the area of sales management, marketing, development of education courses and computer security tools coupled with teaching and training.
Overseeing constant global research and working closely with state and federal policy makers have been key components in IDTELi’s ability to provide this country with its first formal cross-industry education courses on identity theft awareness and prevention.
As a subject matter expert on identity theft, Brenda is frequently sought out to speak on the topic of ID theft, laws and available Security Compliance Tools before television and organization audiences.