A better future through entrepreneurship

By Gregg Bishop, SBS Comissioner

Growing up with my grandmother in Grenada, I saw first-hand how entrepreneurship can uplift families and change lives. My grandmother supported our family by selling milk and produce, always looking for a new and better way to sell her products and supplement our family income.

Her example and hard work gave me my first exposure to the impact of running a small business. Without her, it is unlikely that I, as an immigrant New Yorker, would be where I am today and serving as Mayor Bill de Blasio’s commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services (SBS).

While my grandmother’s story is just one of countless examples of entrepreneurship paving the way to a better future, it illustrates the importance of empowering more of our friends and neighbors to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. An innovative City program called Childcare Business Pathways is helping New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) residents do just that.

The Department of Small Business Services (SBS), along with its partners at NYCHA and Citi Community Development, launched the Childcare Business Pathways program to help unlock economic potential and create a fairer economy across the five boroughs.

Through this program, we are helping budding entrepreneurs start their own businesses and generate supplemental income. Why is this so important? Many New Yorkers are unaware of just how integral NYCHA residents are to our city. 

If NYCHA’s population were its own city, it would be larger than Milwaukee. Unlike Milwaukee, however, which has an average family income of $53,000, the average income for NYCHA residents is only $24,336 a year.

The New Yorkers who live in NYCHA housing come from all walks of life and backgrounds, but many face economic and social stigmas associated with living in public housing. Residents also face barriers to obtaining employment because of a lack of affordable childcare options.

By helping residents start their own childcare businesses, we are benefiting those who start a business while also providing their friends and neighbors with a convenient childcare option.

Through this free, 15-week program on how to start, operate, and grow a childcare business, NYCHA residents receive support and guidance on licensing, marketing, and financing their business. Resident entrepreneurs also gain training and certifications necessary to run their own childcare businesses, including CPR and First Aid Certifications, Health and Safety Certifications and Medication Administration Certification

We recently graduated our second group of Childcare Business Pathways participants, and the results have been excellent. To date, 34 NYCHA residents have graduated since the program launched last year, and 23 of them have already opened a childcare business or are developing one.

This is an example of what the City of New York and partners in the private sector can do to invest in New York’s most important asset: its people.

If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about the Childcare Business Pathways program, please visit opportunitynycha.org.

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