JFCS has been providing assistance to microbusinesses for more than 20 years. In 1995, the program started with funding from the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement to give newly arrived refugees the opportunity to explore self-employment through microenterprise development as a viable means to financial self-sufficiency. Since then, it has grown into the Navigate Enterprise Center. Services have expanded to include one-on-one consulting, classes and workshops, microloans, and the preparation for micro- entrepreneurs to access main-stream financing.
Navigate has been able to stay true to its core mission of helping entrepreneurs from underserved communities start and expand small businesses. Today, we work not only with refugees but are able to provide services to immigrants, residents of West and South Louisville, and other under-resourced communities. In the last five years, through outreach presentations, one-on-one advising and classes, Navigate has worked with more than 1,000 clients and disbursed $600,000+ from multiple revolving loan funds.
A signature event for Navigate is the Business Showcase, held every year during the JFCS annual fundraiser, The MOSAIC Awards. The Showcase was created in 2012 as a way to highlight successful businesses that Navigate has assisted. This year, businesses selected to participate include a diverse representation of populations and iindustries such as food, design, fashion, and art. We also will feature representatives from Connecting Communities, a new program connecting refugee and senior women through artistic creation. Businesses owners gain exposure and have the opportunity to talk with a large audience about their business.
As Navigate looks to the future, it will continue to provide entrepreneurs with the skills, tools and resources to start and grow their business. Navigate has recognized the value of community partnerships and will seek new and innovative ways to create programs that support and contribute to the economic development of individuals and the neighborhoods in which they live.
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