Two St. Joseph residents graduated from the Initiative Foundation’s Enterprise Academy Entrepreneur Training course on April 29.
The two women, Liin Guure and Ayaan Danan, completed the 12-week program that covers topics including accounting, finance, the credit review process, marketing, operations and management.
In addition, course members developed skills such as budgeting, cash management and professional etiquette and instructors helped students research, write and confidently articulate a sound business plan.
The Initiative Foundation began planning the academy three years ago. The idea grew from a simple statistic that jumped out at foundation strategists: While the population of Central Minnesota was about 9 percent people of color, only about 3 percent of businesses were minority-owned.
Guure worked at a Somali pharmacy before the nation’s civil war began. She spent many years supporting women by providing job training and education and operating a mental health facility. Guure currently dyes clothing but hopes to open a restaurant in St. Joseph.
Danan joined the Enterprise Academy to make her business dream a reality. Danan currently works on the St. John’s University maintenance crew and wants to start a cleaning business. Danan stays active promoting community integration in St. Joseph and raising her six children. In her free time, Danan enjoys attending community events and spending time with her children.
Before starting the Enterprise Academy in early 2018, the foundation engaged in a community-based outreach and planning process, convening a working group of Somali-American community leaders as well as figures from the economic development arena in St. Cloud and Central Minnesota.
The group met for 18 months to identify barriers and opportunities for new East African residents looking to enter the business world.
“Understanding what it takes to start a business, you have to be more careful and plan more strategically,” said Abdirizak Jama, the Initiative Foundation’s program specialist who coordinates the Enterprise Academy. “Here in the States, it can take $50,000 to start a business, as opposed to having $1,000 and starting a micro-level business in Africa.”
Jama also is the vice chair of Central Minnesota Community Empowerment Organization/Cultural Bridges.