The Women’s Business Center (WBC), a non-profit organization that offers small business counseling, recently supported the unveiling of the first research done by the Program for Investment in Micro-Entrepreneurs (PRIME).
On September 28, the WBC hosted an event that showcased the research findings by the University of Texas-Pan American’s Sociology professor Dr. Chad Richardson titled, “The Best Practices of Micro-Enterprises.”
His research was presented to over 60 people in attendance and he explained, with the help of UTPA master’s student Amelia Flores, the findings from their research on micro-enterprises predominately found in colonias and other low-income areas in Hidalgo County.
“What we did was go out into the community and talk in-depth with these micro-business owners and find out what their struggles and obstacles were,” Richardson explained. “We also examined how successful their business was and what methods they were using to operate their business.”
In the summer of 2010, 300 small business owners were surveyed. Some of the areas of business included food/snacks (example: raspa stands), automobile, cosmetics/beauty, parties/special occasions, personal care, and construction to name a few. Nearly 30 percent of those interviewed were between 40-49 years old, 25 percent were 50-59 years old, 23 percent were 30-39 years old, 15 percent were 18-29 years old, and less than 5 percent were 60 and older.
As a result of Richardson’s study, he found that the financial situation stayed the same compared to last year for nearly 50 percent of the businesses surveyed. However, it has gotten worse for those who have businesses in bakery and pastries, landscaping and yard, fixed location sales, construction, personal care and skill trade — while the businesses that have improved financially are the ones that own parties or special occasion businesses, food and snacks, cosmetics and beauty and clothing and garment.
Another very important finding on Richardson’s study was the annual income on all those businesses, which was between $12,000 and $42,000.
“The findings had very unique character characteristics of the small businesses in the Rio Grande Valley,” said Maria Mann, WBC director. “The event was very educational, productive, an eye opener, and enlightening.”
Some of Richardson’s recommendations based on his findings include, Initiate a pilot project to make “promotoras” available to assist very small business owners in managing regulations and knowing the keys to success in starting a new business (or developing an existing one); help undocumented business owners become as legal as possible in operating their businesses.
Help individuals planning very small businesses to adequately plan their business and to adopt minimal bookkeeping and planning; encourage national and state agencies that work with very small businesses to develop training and forms that more successfully accommodate very small business owners with limited education and English proficiency; and encourage banks and other agencies to make available more micro-lending opportunities to very small businesses in the Valley.
For a full report on “The Best Practices of Micro-Enterprises,” please contact the Women’s Business Center at (956) 618-2828.