Transforming Lives and the Community Through Business Ownership
By: Kelli Reifel, OPTIONS Class 10 member
As a member of OPTIONS Class 10, I recently had the opportunity to attend a site visit at Business Ownership Initiative of Indiana. BOI is one of the countless amazing organizations Women’s Fund supports. I was, once again, impressed to learn about how yet another organization supports women and children in Indiana.
Executive Director of Business Ownership Initiative, Sharon O’Donoghue, summarized BOI’s main objective as an organization that helps existing and emerging business owners move forward. With many IN residents experiencing downsizing and displacement, Business Ownership Initiative has seen an influx of clients looking to start new businesses. She also shared a staggering statistic stating 86% of all new jobs are coming from small business owners. The common thread of BOI clients, regardless of background, is they all want to form jobs for IN residents while generating income for themselves with the goal of being self-sufficient.
Sharon also shared with us the success of a specific grant from Women’s Fund that was aimed directly at serving women in poverty. Because finding and affording dependable, good childcare can be the barrier to women working and becoming self-sufficient, BOI and WF teamed up on an initiative to address the childcare crisis for working women. They targeted existing childcare providers that weren’t making money and helped women start new facilities by focusing on differentiating themselves by addressing city/neighborhood needs and offering services to address those needs. Making children “school ready” became the driving passion of these caregivers. The results were astounding! The existing 350 providers become profitable and 500 new facilities were opened. Not only did this initiative put women to work in the facilities by adding 1700 new jobs, but it also put in place much needed affordable, solid child care so women could go to work.
As with all the site visits thus far, I am always so amazed at how little I knew about the incredible organizations supporting women in our community. Women’s Fund’s goal of supporting organizations that help women break the cycle of poverty and become self-sufficient has been repeatedly reinforced on all the site visits I have attended including BOI.
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