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Micro Enterprise @ the Library: Foundation for Women

San Diego County Library
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Innovation Summary

Library staff provide weekly meeting space, dedicated computer time and help the women build partnerships with local business and technology experts to host regular hands-on micro-enterprise learning opportunities. 

Innovation Leader: Cecilia Rincon, Branch Librarian, cecilia.rincon@sdcounty.ca.gov

Problem Statement

San Diego County is more than 4,000 square miles large. Some of the most affordable housing is in remote areas. Many women living in our more remote and/or impoverished communities have few opportunities to earn a traditional 9-5 income. Many don't speak English fluently, and may lack the education, capital, family support and/or computer/Internet access to generate income via alternative means.

Innovation

In February 2011 SDCL welcomed the international Foundation for Women ("Eliminating Global Poverty through Microcredit") into four of its branches --- Fallbrook, Spring Valley, El Cajon and Vista.  The nonprofit foundation provides funds for women of all ethnicities to start successful business endeavors, and offers a peer support group.  Library staff provide weekly meeting space, dedicate computer time and help the women build partnerships with local business and technology experts to host regular hands-on learning opportunities.  Topics include microcredit, marketing, social media and web-based branding, creating a successful business plan and money management.    These four library branches serve either isolated and/or predominately low-income populations.  Each program serves women whose first language is not English.  All foster Spanish-speakers; El Cajon’s supports participation by women from the growing Chaldean (Iraqi) community. 

Progress

In February 2011 SDCL welcomed the international Foundation for Women ("Eliminating Global Poverty through Microcredit") into four of its branches --- Fallbrook, Spring Valley, El Cajon and Vista.  The nonprofit foundation provides funds for women of all ethnicities to start successful business endeavors, and offers a peer support group.  Library staff provide weekly meeting space, dedicate computer time and help the women build partnerships with local business and technology experts to host regular hands-on learning opportunities.  Topics include microcredit, marketing, social media and web-based branding, creating a successful business plan and money management.    These four library branches serve either isolated and/or predominately low-income populations.  Each program serves women whose first language is not English.  All foster Spanish-speakers; El Cajon’s supports participation by women from the growing Chaldean (Iraqi) community.  A year after we initiated this program, the combined pilot sites host an average of more than 200 women entrepreneurs a week, offering regular classes and one-on-one instruction.  Cecilia Taylor, volunteer mentor at Fallbrook Library's program, reports: “In the last year I’ve seen women learn to use a computer, and, by extension, learn to read and write. Women totally under their husbands’ control start to become financially independent by means of small loans that allow them to start their own business.  Perhaps the most satisfying moment was when one of the members stood up to recount how she, a quiet and self-effacing person, somehow found the courage to participate as a seller in one of the monthly local bazaars, and of her pride when she told her family that she had sold every single item on her table.”