Together, we can build an economy that works

Picture a group of 10 Lancaster entrepreneurs starting or growing their businesses. They are a more diverse group than you often see in Lancaster—4 are African American, 3 are white, 2 are Latino and 1 is African. They all have one thing in common: They are entrepreneurs with a dream of improving their lives by starting a business of their own.

You know how risky starting a business can be. Imagine, then, the risk involved in not only being responsible for a loan of your own, but also guaranteeing the loans of 9 other individuals. But that’s what they did. Through ASSETS’ Lending Circle program, entrepreneurs support each other for a full year of business growth. They commit to each other’s success. They improve their credit and access traditional capital. They formalize their businesses and increase their income. They increase the diversity of Lancaster’s economy. And they do it together.

This is the power of ASSETS, which you help to make possible with your financial support.

With your help, ASSETS supports businesses and helps to create thriving wage jobs. Through your generous support, ASSETS helps local businesses be a driving force for good. And it is not just the Lending Circles that are working.

We are:

  • Training social enterprises through the Great Social Enterprise Pitch to hire refugees and people with barriers to employment.
  • Helping women start and grow businesses through the ASSETS Women’s Business Center to achieve parity in business-ownership.
  • Working with existing for-profit companies to Measure What Matters – to consider their social and environmental impact in the community in new ways—through restructuring businesses to offer employee ownership, diversifying leadership and management structures, adding more local women-owned or people-of-color owned businesses to their supply chains, and becoming certified B Corps.

The BBC has called Lancaster “America’s Refugee Capital.” If we can resettle 20x more refugees than any other place in the country, we believe that we can build an economy with the highest rates of women- and people-of-color-owned businesses and the most B Corps per capita. Will you help us work toward this vision?

Together, we can build an economy that works.

Your donation will help us meet our $40,000 fiscal year-end goal and continue to build an economy that works for all. You can give on-line today!

Top 10 Milestones at ASSETS in 2016

First of all, THANK YOU to everyone who made 2016 a great year for ASSETS. We couldn’t have done this without you. We’d like you to help us celebrate some of our highlighted moments of 2016:

  1. We opened the Women’s Business Center and hired Melisa Baez as the first director of the Center! The Women’s Business Center at ASSETS is developed in partnership with the Small Business Administration to assist small business owners who are starting or expanding their small business.
  2. Two clients became certified B CorpsThe Lancaster Stroopies Company and Two Dudes Painting. B Corps certification is geared towards for-profit companies to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.
  3. ASSETS became a certified SBA Microlender.
  4. We hosted two Cultivate Lancaster events, with a total of over 300 people in attendance.
  5. For our third annual Great Social Enterprise Pitch, we sold out the entire Ware Center!
  6. We launched the ASSETS Business Directory features the businesses of our wonderful clients.
  7. ASSETS is honored to have won the Samaritan Counseling Center Business in Ethics Awards.
  8. Our Director of Programs, Jonathan Coleman, received the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce Young Professional’s Network (YPN) Innovation Award.
  9. Our Director of The Women’s Business Center, Melisa Baez, received MEDA’s “Ten Young Women Changing the World” award.
  10. And….. ASSETS helped over 40 businesses launch!!

Thank you so much to everyone. W wish you a wonderful and prosperous 2017!



Melanin Essentials takes top prize in Great Social Enterprise Pitch

To view the original post on LancasterOnline, click here.

Saba Adana and Olayinka Credle have felt the frustration of being unable to find quality hair products designed for them, and seen the struggles of single mothers striving to provide for their families.

On Friday, their plan to address both of those concerns by making chemical-free beauty products for women of color took first prize in Lancaster’s third annual Great Social Enterprise Pitch, winning $7,500 and free business services.

“We are going to hire and pay single mothers thriving wages of $15 an hour,” said Saba Adana, describing the business they’re going to call Melanin Essentials. “If we sell 1,760 products a month, we will be able to hire two full-time single moms.”

Lancaster County Community Foundation and Assets Lancaster organize the program to encourage social enterprises — organizations that perform a social good while also making a profit.

Their leaders said Friday that the five finalists, as well as about two dozen others who participated in the nine-month program, illustrate that well.

Olayinka Credle and Saba Adana pitch an ethically-made personal care and beauty products, Melanin Essentials, at The Great Social Enterprise Pitch on Friday, Sept. 30, 2016.

Each made a five-minute pitch to a panel of judges and a live audience of about 350 people, and each elicited a roar of support from the crowd.

Then, while the judges deliberated, Matt Stinchcomb shared his vision for social enterprise, which he believes has power to change the world.

A former vice president at Etsy, the massive online marketplace for unique goods, he now serves as executive director of the the Good Work Institute, which advances that vision.

“We need to instill different notions of what it means to be successful, about how businesses think about everyone in a community,” he said. “Success is shared.”

Then the judges announced the rankings, with each finalist winning a cash prize and free business services.

Luis Miranda won second with BootCamp900, which offers fitness training in low-income communities and has been running a 60-minute weight training program in southeast Lancaster city. He also won the audience vote.

LaShonda Whitaker won third with 5 Loaves Food Co., a company that supplies locally sourced healthful food to childcare centers.

Kristin Snyder won fourth, with Sophie Stargazer Boutique, which features brands committed to ethical sourcing and production.

Heather and Michelle Long won fifth with WIN Workplace Solutions, a temporary, portable space that employers can offer to breast-feeding women.

ASSETS Program Director Wins Award

Jonathan ColemanJonathan Coleman, ASSETS Lancaster’s Program Director, was selected as one of the “20 under 35: Young Professionals Changing the World” winners by the Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA).   For over 60 years MEDA has created business solutions to poverty around the world through unleashing entrepreneurship. With this award, MEDA honors North American individuals who “embody an entrepreneurial spirit and embrace a desire to make a difference in the world.”

An entrepreneur at heart, Jonathan has a passion for finding and developing innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing problems and a strong belief in the power of business to help facilitate positive societal change on a local, national, and global scale.  He has been involved in economic and community development activities for 8 years, including projects in Latin America, the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the United States. Prior to ASSETS, some of his work included launching and managing a successful education-based pilot project in Zambia, overseeing growth within a child sponsorship program in the Dominican Republic, and aiding in the job placement of recently arrived refugees and asylum seekers in the United States. As Program Director at ASSETS, Jonathan has helped create and launch several new programs, including the Lending Circles Microloan Program and a Social Enterprise Accelerator and Pitch Competition. Jonathan holds an MBA in Economic Development and is fluent in Spanish.

Read more about the “20 under 35” award here