NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—As the saying goes, “Teach a man how to catch a fish, he’ll be fed for a lifetime.”
And that’s the underlying philosophy of the Intersect Fund, a non-profit organization focused on helping low-income entrepreneurs create their own small businesses. The organization’s founders, Joe Shure and Rohan Mathew, former student editors at The Daily Targum, said were inspired by the staggering poverty rate in New Brunswick.
Looking for a way to help combat the crisis, Shure says they noticed that what the people living in poverty wanted most was to start their own small business that would provide them with stability.
According to Shure, the two biggest obstacles to starting a business for people below the poverty line are a lack of business financing and a lack of knowledge in areas such as marketing, bookkeeping, and registering a business.
So his organization helps those who have bad credit or no cedit at all, people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to get a loan from the bank.
Mathew said “The Intersect Fund is there to support [startup businesses] and to tell them we believe in you.”
The Intersect Fund will not only help individuals and their families but the local employment rate, he says.
“If one in three businesses were able to add just one employee, our country would be in full employment,”
Founded in 2008, the Intersect Fund has not only provided people with education on starting a business, but also gave 160 “micro-loans” to entrepreneurs totalling over $290,000 according to an article in yesterday’s New York Times.
Shure explained that the funding for the Intersect Fund, “comes from a variety of foundations and corporate grants, individual contributions, and funding from state, local and federal government agencies. Approximately 10 percent of our revenue comes from the fees we charge for training and loans.”
In 2011, they received a grant of $60,000 from the City of New Brunswick and they are planning to bid in an open process for another micro-lending contract worth $90,000.
Thanks to their programs, residents of New Brunswick and other communities in the area will get a chance to make money and feed their families with their own income. Clients of the organization can borrow up to $10,000, and attend weekly classes that will provide them with the knowledge to have a successful business.
Sonaya Williams was success story for the Intersect Fund. She came to the non-profit after hearing from a friend how helpful their classes are. She took a 9-week basic business class taught by Shure and developed the confidence to start the business of her dreams.
She told NewBrunswickToday.com how the classes were easy to follow and the homework assignments each week helped her to develop a basic understanding of business. She also said how Shure was always accessible to go over the assignments.
Williams’ business, Growth Protocol, is based in North Brunswick and helps other small business owners to create an Operations Manual to make their businesses more efficient.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate, a community organizer, and a former independent candidate for mayor of New Brunswick.