THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESIDENTIAL AWARDS FOR EXCELLENCE IN MICROENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT February 5, 1999
Today, President Clinton Presents The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Microenterprise Development. The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Microenterprise Development were created as one of the commitments made by the United States at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing China in September 1995. The awards reflect an on-going commitment by President Clinton to advance the role that microenterprise development plays in enhancing economic opportunities of all Americans, especially those that lack access to traditional sources of credit such as women, low income people, and minorities. President Clinton directed the Treasury Department to establish the Presidential Awards (which are administered by the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund to help bring wider public attention to the important role and successes of microenterprise development in the domestic economy. The first Presidential Awards were made in January 1997 and are made in different categories designed to embrace the diverse goals, purposes and activities of successful microenterprise organizations, and the challenges and opportunities they face.
This Year's Awardees (And Some of Their Clients' Stories) Are:
The Micro Industry Credit Rural Organization (MICRO), a loan fund of the PPEP Microbusiness and Housing Development Corporation, of Tucson, Arizona. Established in 1987, MICRO is one of the oldest Hispanic development organizations and one of the oldest microenterprise loan funds in the nation. MICRO is recognized as a Presidential Awardee in the Access to Capital award category for its best practices as a high impact, credit-oriented model for promoting micro entrepreneurship in low income, rural Arizona communities. Client Profile: Maria Jesus "Chuyita" Gaxiola was a migrant farm worker, widowed with two small daughters, barely surviving on her daughters' Social Security income and speaking no English when she first visited MICRO in 1993. She was nevertheless possessed of extraordinary drive and tenacity, and over the next several years participated in a series of programs at MICRO including ESL classes and training in basic business skills. From an initial microenterprise loan of $1,500, she was able to expand her cosmetics, jewelry and accessories business into a thriving entity which in 1998 brought in $60,000 with a net profit to Chuyita of $30,000. The Detroit Entrepreneurship Institute, Inc. (DEI) of Detroit, Michigan, provides a one-stop shop for aspiring microentrepreneurs. Created in 1990, DEI is recognized as a Presidential Awardee in the Developing Entrepreneurial Skills award category for providing a uniquely comprehensive range of training, technical assistance and business support services targeted to welfare recipients and low income individuals. Client Profile: Jacqueline Tucker is a divorced mother of three children who started a small catering business after completing her training at DEI. Jacqueline, a divorced mother of three children who was on welfare for 10 years, was determined that there would be no second generation welfare recipients among her children. She was one of DEI's first graduates and borrowers in 1991, and repaid her first $2,000 loan six months before it was due. Jacqueline's three children have played an active role in her business, with the entire family often helping with food preparation and display, clean up, loading the van, and billing. In addition to learning how to manage a business, Jacqueline now feels more confident as a citizen, mother and woman. She states that, after participating in the DEI program, she began to grow as a person. Jacqueline has now been off welfare for more than five years. The Northeast Entrepreneur Fund, Inc. (NEF) of Virginia, Minnesota. Created in 1989, NEF is recognized as a Presidential Awardee in the Developing Entrepreneurial Skills award category for its strong commitment to developing and implementing impact measures for assessing the performance of training-based microenterprise programs, as well as providing an effective and flexible model for delivering skill development services to rural entrepreneurs. Client Profile: Carol Willoughby first became a NEF client in 1991 when she was launching her sign making business, which she began by making wedding and church banners in her living room in order to supplement her family's income. Today, her business provides convention, sporting event, and special promotion signage for the Duluth area and the upper Midwest. Carol no longer paints signs; instead she creates her signs out of vinyl with the aid of two computer systems. During the years she has operated her business, Carol has received training, technical assistance and financing from NEF. Each year, Carol has established and achieved her business and financial goals. The company's sales in 1998 were 20 times what they were in 1991. For Carol, owning her own business "has been a dream come true," and she credits NEF for helping her to make it happen. The Institute for Social and Economic Development (ISED) of Iowa City, Iowa was founded in 1989 and has proven its long term staying power while maintaining a strong and aggressive commitment to serving its low income clientele. ISED is recognized as a Presidential Awardee in the Poverty Alleviation award category for its success in serving low income clients, its effective program design and its commitment to promote the evolution of the microenterprise field through impact measurement. Client Profile: Dancing since she was six years old, Rhonda won local and regional dance competitions and always dreamed of owning her own dance studio. By 1990, Rhonda was the assistant gymnastics coach at the local YMCA, as well as a dance coordinator and aerobics instructor. That year, however Rhonda's life took a rough turn when her husband went to prison. Rhonda, with an infant son to support, found herself with no health insurance and insufficient income to make ends meet. She was forced to go on welfare. However, Rhonda was determined to get off of welfare and rebuild her life. Rhonda went through ISED's three-month training program and received technical assistance to obtain financing and get a business started. In June of 1994, ISED helped Rhonda get a $8,200 loan from a bank, and with it she opened the Showtime Dance School. "The early days and months were rough," said Rhonda. "But, ISED was there to help me get through. They were both my best friend and business consultant." By the following year, Rhonda had made enough money to get off of public assistance. Today, Showtime has 260 enrollments and offers instruction in tap, ballet, jazz, point and lyrical dance for ages three and up. Rhonda paid off her bank loan in full in May 1998. In 1998, Rhonda's business had approximately $60,000 in gross income and $30,000 in net income. The Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) of Washington D.C. and San Francisco, CA. Founded in 1978, CFED has been one of the leading lights in the development of the U.S. microenterprise industry. CFED is recognized in the Public or Private Support for Microenterprise Development award category for its steadfast and long-standing commitment to low income people and its vision, creativity and initiative in moving the microenterprise industry to new heights at every stage of its development. Client Profile: CFED is a policy and research institute, and as such does not have its own microentrepreneur clients. However, its list of accomplishments is long. This Awardee carries out its mission by: conducting research and program evaluation; pioneering new credit and asset-building strategies tailored to the needs of low-income people; collecting and disseminating information to the field on best practices in microenterprise development; providing training and technical assistance to many leading organizations in the microenterprise field; and serving as a strong and effective voice for the industry. Among many other claims to fame, CFED helped launch several of the industry's leading microenterprise development organizations including four Presidential Award winners -- three 1998 winners, Detroit Entrepreneurship Institute, Inc., Institute for Social and Economic Development, and Northeast Entrepreneur Fund, Inc. and Women's Self Employment Program (a 1997 winner). The Montana Microbusiness Finance Program (MMFP) of Helena, Montana builds the capacity of local organizations to promote community asset-building and microbusiness ownership. Created in 1991, MMFP is recognized in the Public or Private Support for Microenterprise Development award category as a state-sponsored model for creating and growing microenterprises in a rural state. Client Profile: In 1994, Kevin and Heidi Snyder were seeking to purchase a racquetball club business. Kevin and Heidi had previously managed a health club while he was attending college and studying business management, yet no local bank would lend them the money. The Snyders approached the District VI Human Resource and Development Council, one of the microlenders supported by MMFP, for a loan. After purchasing a building for The Total Body Racquetball and Fitness Center with the loan, they expanded the weight training equipment, added a tanning bed and started a racquetball league. In 1995, Kevin and Heidi refinanced their first microloan, purchased equipment, and were able to add an aerobic exercise room with a second microloan. They have since added nutrition counseling and a pro shop to their range of services, and plan to build an indoor swimming pool. They have also added to their family, and currently switch off responsibilities for raising three young boys with that of managing the Center. The Snyders were winners of the 1998 Montana Microenterprise of the Year Award. They attribute much of their success to MMFP, for backing them when no one else would, and for the business counseling, training and other assistance that enabled them to go so successfully from launch to thriving business. ###