CLEWISTON- Recently, Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida awarded a $1,000 micro business grant to Shannen Leahy, owner of The Caloosa Kitchen. The grant was offered, through a partnership with Bank OZK, after Leahy participated in the Goodwill MicroEnterprise program. The Goodwill MicroEnterprise program is a course designed to help individuals develop a plan to start or grow their business.
According to Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida, “MicroEnterprises represent 90% of all businesses in the Southwest Florida. They are the backbone of our economy. A microenterprise is any type of small business that has fewer than five employees and requires $35,000 or less to start-up, generally much less.”
“2021 has been an amazing year for us,” said Leahy. “The business is expanding to new markets and new customers. My goal has always been to continually improve the bakery, and improve my skills not only as a baker but as a businesswoman. Thanks to the Southwest Florida MicroEnterprise Institute I am closer to reaching these goals and confident in the continued success of The Caloosa Kitchen.”
Goodwill says their MicroEnterprise program is designed to help individuals with low to moderate income levels and other disadvantages to start or stabilize their own businesses, “If you have a great idea for a new business, the Goodwill SWFL MicroEnterprise Institute is available to aspiring small business owners who live in the Southwest Florida area. An administrative fee may apply depending upon your income level. This pays for your course materials-but the rewards you reap will give you far more value!”
The program is offered to residents of Lee, Collier, Charlotte, North Port, Hendry and Glades counties. Classes typically meet twice a week in the evenings, for six weeks.
“This spring between markets, weekly sales, and deliveries, I signed up for their 6-week course. I had considered attending in 2019, but decided against it because I didn’t think I’d be able to handle working full-time and making the night classes at their HQ in Fort Myers. Thankfully, the program began virtual sessions due to Covid-19 safety precautions, allowing rural SWFL residents like me, the opportunity to attend from the comfort of my own home,” Leahy explained. “For any of my fellow small business owners and entrepreneurs in southwest Florida (yes you too, Hendry/Glades) I urge you to consider signing up for the program. Regardless if you are already in business or just have the idea or dream of your own business, this program provides you with resources that will provide insight to every aspect of running and improving a small business. The coaches, facilitators and mentors foster a great learning environment, and I really enjoyed sharing knowledge and tips with my fellow classmates, all passionate and driven entrepreneurs.”
Leahy added, “Feel free to message me about my experience this spring. And check out the businesses of my fellow classmates (who are also killing it!): Zio's Fashion, Jireh Creations by Glenda LLC, Free Flowing Health/Chef Lisa Brown, and 2 VETS Home Services. If you have any questions, please reach out to Dorothy Browning, firstname.lastname@example.org, and Sandra Plazas, email@example.com”
For more information about the Goodwill MicroEnterprise program visit this link: