To advance the economic participation of women on the islands, the CNMI Women’s Association and the CNMI Small Business Development Center have collaborated to provide a free four-week training program on the rudiments of starting a business.
“It is a program that will…give individuals the foundation to be able to help start their own business and helps provide advice,” said SBDC director Nicole Babauta.
The program, “Learn About How to Start a Business,” gave participants the knowledge and skills on how to become entrepreneurs, and covered four areas—how to start a business, how to write a business plan, how to understand financial statements, and how to create a marketing plan.
“Our first training was how to start a business. We talked about what do you need to start a business. We talked about market research,” Babauta said. “For the second week we talked about how to write a business plan. We went through an interactive program called life plan that helps them to create their business plan.”
On the third week, participants looked at financial statements, and learned how to read an income statement, a balance sheet, and a cash flow statement. For their last session yesterday, marketing strategies and campaigns and tactics that will help get the word out to the community were discussed.
Tribe Marianas co-founder and creative director Rob Travilla also shared his story, and shared ideas on how to use social media to help expand a business.
There were an average of 14 participants per workshop, and two of them were men.
SBDC is under the Department of Commerce, funded by the Small Business Administration, with additional funding from the Commonwealth Development Authority.
“We try to be a library of resources for those that are looking to start their business,” Babauta said. “We offer one-to-one business advising services.”
Anyone who has an idea and would like to start a business can go to SBDC and get free assistance in creating a business plan. Additionally, SBDC will also direct the individual to resources that can provide capital funding, whether it’s in the form of grants, or loans, or programs such as the state small credit business initiative or SBA loans for businesses.
For those wanting to start their own businesses, “have mentors that are able to guide you,” Babauta said, “visit the SBDC and we will connect you with those that will be able to help you take your idea from idea to business.”