Spanish by Mary. ProCleaners LLC. These are some of the Eastside-based businesses that were supported through Ventures’ first-ever business training course offered on the east side of Lake Washington. In spring 2017, 19 Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs learned the nuts and bolts of starting and running a micro-business as participants in Ventures’ cornerstone 8-week Business Basics Course in Spanish. The course was made possible through a partnership with Hopelink, a leading social services organization in north and east King County providing stability and resources to help people exit poverty.

Hopelink’s mission to create lasting change in communities by promoting self-sufficiency aligns with Ventures’ core values of empowerment, client-success, and community. This creates an exciting opportunity for Ventures to support new communities of low-income entrepreneurs. Hopelink offers a food bank for local residents, in addition to housing, transportation, energy support, and family development. All of these resources were available to participants in this course.

Judy Faast, Hopelink Associate Director, echoes Ventures’ enthusiasm for the partnership: “Hopelink is proud to host Ventures’ [Business Basics Course] at our service centers in north and east King County. We value joining with Ventures in providing resources to equip low-income members of our community with resources to move towards financial well-being.” Growing diversity across east and north King County, combined demand from entrepreneurs in those areas, made the partnership with Hopelink the perfect opportunity to increase impact by limiting geographic barriers.

Our spring 2017 Business Basics Course in Spanish planted the seed for business growth in Bellevue and beyond. Seven of the 19 graduates hailed from Bellevue or nearby Redmond, while 4 traveled from northern King County or Snohomish County, and an equal number traveled from South King County. Over half of the graduates were women, and represented a diverse mixture of businesses: almost 50% aspired to open a service-related business, 33% had plans to open a food business, and 20% had either a product business or a combination of product and service. Since graduating, almost half of clients in the Bellevue course have participated in Ventures Specialized Services.

Hopelink and Ventures will continue their partnership in 2018 by offering two Business Basics Course at Hopelink’s locations in Bellevue and Shoreline. We are offering a Business Basics Course in Spanish at Hopelink Shoreline starting April 30 and in English at Hopelink Bellevue in early September. Registration for our spring 2018 Spanish-speaking course is currently open. Registration for our fall 2018 Bellevue course will open later this summer.

As the Latino population in Western Washington grows, serving entrepreneur communities outside of the Ventures headquarters in South Seattle is even more important. The partnership with Hopelink is an example of how Ventures extends its reach to new communities. Looking forward to 2018 and beyond, Ventures will work to reach new entrepreneurial communities where our services are needed most.