Back on Track – United Way of the Bluegrass

Bill Farmer, President & CEO and Bobby Clark sign
the contract toprovide entreprenur training for
low income participants

SBV completed a two-year contract in the summer of 2013 with the United Way of the Bluegrass, Lexington, Ky., to provide Green Entrepreneur training and business plan technical assistance for clients enrolled in their Individual Development Accounts (IDA). IDA programs match savings by low-income adults and families that can be used for a down payment for a home, training and education or to start a small business.

Save $1,000 and Get $4,000 Match
Small Businesses, individuals and families can enroll in the United Way of the Bluegrass Back on Track Program

Low and moderate income individuals in central Kentucky participated in a unique program that can turn $1,000 into $5,000. The savings and match could be used for: (1) down payment on a house; education/training including tuition, books and school supplies or (3) assist an existing small business get FREE technical assistance, training, mentoring or financial support to start new businesses. This opportunity was offered by United Way of the Bluegrass (UWBG).

The entrepreneur-focused services are provided by Lexington-based 501(c)(3) non-profit Sustainable Business Ventures (SBV). For eligible participants, the UWBG Back on Track Program will match $1,000 in savings with a $4,000 match. The program requires 18 hours of training and setting up a savings account. Once the participant saves $1,000, the UWBG puts in $4,000 for a total account of $5,000. Receipts for reasonable and necessary business expenses are approved by UWBG and reimbursed from this account. Tuition, fees and books for college or career training/certification are also approved expenditures.

Lafe Taylor and Lamar Wilson sharing personal
experiences as entrepreneurs in Lexington

This opportunity was also available to existing small business. If the small business has assets less than $10,000 and household income of less than $30,260 for a family of two (see Income Requirements below), the United Way of the Bluegrass will match the $1,000 savings with $4,000.

Employers can share this opportunity with employees that live in Anderson, Bourbon, Clark, Fayette, Jessamine, Madison, Montgomery, and Scott counties. Other potential beneficiaries of this information are friends, members of other organizations and church members.

One of the biggest challenges facing someone who wants to start their own business is the seed capital needed to get started. In the current economic climate, most traditional banks are not loaning money to help many established small businesses, much less to start-ups.

The program was made possible by a $1 million grant from the Office of Community Service at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ($200,000 per year for 5 years) which requires UWBG to match the funds locally.

Attorney Florence Huffman describes legal 
structures for forming businesses and helped
participants prepare legal documents as needed.