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One America - Start Up

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One America

Program: Start Up, East Palo Alto, CA
Contact(s): Deborah Wijenje, Executive Director: (650) 321-2193
Purpose: To promote economic development in and around East Palo Alto by providing training, capital and other assistance to foster the establishment and growth of locally owned-and-operated small businesses

Background Program Operations Outcomes


The East Palo Alto Business Initiative, known as Start Up, is a nonprofit organization that was founded in December 1993 as a collaborative effort between students at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business and community members to facilitate the growth of small minority-owned businesses in East Palo Alto.

Program Operations

Start Up has an entrepreneurial training program, a micro-lending program for establishing credit records, and a loan assistance program for obtaining loans from other financial institutions. The entrepreneurial training program is a 14-week program that consists of 50 hours of courses including marketing, financial analyses and specially tailored courses designed to fit individual students' business needs. In addition, prospective business owners can receive eight hours of one-on-one business counseling from either Stanford business students or volunteer professional consultants. Graduates who complete a business plan may apply for a market research loan of up to $500 or a seed loan of up to $5,000 from Start Up, which must be paid back before application for a second loan. All program graduates have the opportunity to learn from their peers in a monthly networking group where participants come together to share their best practices.

Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments

Since 1994, Start Up has been successful in enrolling 228 East Palo Alto/Menlo Park residents and graduating 127 from the entrepreneurial training program. Twenty-one small loans have been extended through a fund established by the Philanthropic Ventures Foundation. Eighty-nine percent of the graduates surveyed reported increased income since completing the training program.

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