(NEWARK, New Jersey) — United Way of Greater Newark received a $30,000 grant from Santander Bank to support technical assistance provided to small businesses through the Greater Newark Enterprises Corporation’s BackStop program.
The BackStop program explores three avenues small businesses can enroll in to improve their back-end systems and processes. The one-year courses teach bookkeeping, building business credit and branding, website and digital marketing. United Way of Greater Newark, Greater Newark Enterprises Corporation and other Newark Asset Building Coalition partners have identified these avenues as most beneficial to small businesses.
“United Way of Greater Newark is deeply connected to the community and understands the needs of those we serve, including small businesses,” said Catherine Wilson, President and CEO of UWGN. “This knowledge is essential to collaborate and support initiatives such as the BackStop program. Working with the Greater Newark Enterprises Corporation enables us to provide crucial educational services to improve the sustainability of small businesses in a post-pandemic world.
United Way of Greater Newark and Greater Newark Enterprises Corporation provided assistance to small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. United Way has helped facilitate emergency relief with its small business grant program, while the Greater Newark Enterprises Corporation has provided micro-business loans. During the application and funding process, United Way found that 35% of applicants were ineligible for assistance because they lacked various technical components critical to running a business.
“We were disappointed when we had to turn away business owners who met the eligibility criteria due to gaps in their applications,” said UWGN Director of Financial Stability Danielle Corea-Smith. “Some companies couldn’t provide the proper financial information or proof of liability insurance, for example. It made me realize that it was possible to help some of these owners improve their skills in accounting and other fields.
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Application processes have brought to light serious issues that prevent small businesses from getting support and jeopardize their chances of long-term sustainability. Filling these necessary technical gaps has been the driving force behind the BackStop program.
“At GNEC, we understand that running a business is a complicated task, which is why, with the help of UWGN, we designed BackStop to allow entrepreneurs to focus on their strengths while providing experts to help them with back-office tasks that entrepreneurs might not have the skills or time to undertake,” said GNEC Executive Director Victor Salama. “Our three tracks empower micro- companies to survive tough economic times and start positioning themselves for growth.”
The BackStop program costs companies $300 for each one-year lead and can be requested by contacting program director Al Alvarez at [email protected] or by calling 973-242-5564. The Accounting track comes with a one-year QuickBooks online license and 50 hours of booking services from local businesses. The Building Business Credit Track provides access to Dun and Bradstreet CreditBuilder Basic and teaches the proper use of these services. The Branding, Website, and Digital Marketing stream focuses on website design, social media practice, and educational tools to improve communications.
In the program’s first year, eight companies registered for Track 1 and five registered for Track 2. Branding Track 3 was recently released and is now accepting applications.
“You have a lot of really passionate people who are entrepreneurs or small business owners and sometimes it’s the little bits and pieces that can hold them back from achieving their dreams,” Corea-Smith said. “They are the ones I see programs like this supporting. This program can help make someone’s dream come true.”