Long Island City, NY—A chance encounter back in 1993 got Monique Greenwood, a successful magazine editor-in-chief, thinking about trying her hand at a new career. Ms. Greenwood was driving in her Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn neighborhood when she spotted a bride and groom getting their picture taken, unaware that there were garbage cans in the background. When Ms. Greenwood stopped to point out the offending backdrop, what leaped into her line of vision was an old and beautiful Victorian mansion, an uncommon sight in the surrounding vicinity of brownstones.
She and her husband eventually purchased the historic structure and converted it into a bed and breakfast. Successfully running the operation for seven years while continuing to put out a monthly issue of Essence Magazine, Ms. Greenwood finally decided in 2002 to focus her time and energy on running Akwaaba Mansion full time.
Though perhaps this hadn’t been chance so much as fate. Ms. Greenwood had always been interested in business, participating in a program at the Simmons School of Management in Boston specifically geared towards helping women become successful managers and leaders in business. She also comes from a family of business owners, her grandfather having started a moving and storage company in Washington, D.C. in the 1920s that decades later would be listed as one of the country’s leading African-American-owned businesses.
After leaving her executive-level position at Essence, Ms. Greenwood had time to focus on developing her hospitality business. She not only experienced great success with her original location in Brooklyn but branched out to four additional locations: one in Washington, D.C., two in Cape May, New Jersey, and one in New Orleans, which she subsequently sold.
When Ms. Greenwood heard from the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce about Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, an initiative to help small businesses across the U.S. grow and create jobs through greater access to business education, financial capital, and business support services, she recognized it an opportunity to work on areas that were crucial to growing her business, in particular, financial planning and management.
“I learned how to measure cash flow and operational costs and how to project future costs,” she said, explaining that these were valuable lessons she took away from the program. “I have better confidence now with my financial management.”
Ms. Greenwood credits 10,000 Small Businesses, which is offered at LaGuardia Community College–Goldman Sachs’s first partner in the initiative–with giving her the knowledge and tools she needed to open her newest location in Bethany, Pennsylvania this past spring. Since completing the program in 2011, she has also added one full time and one part time employee to her staff of eight and hired four employees at the new location. And last year, Akwaaba Bed & Breakfast Inns earned $1 million in revenue, a significant increase from the previous year.
Another important aspect of the program, she noted, has been the network of colleagues she has found in her fellow classmates. “Owning a business is often a solitary experience. Other entrepreneurs ‘get’ your challenges and sense of accomplishment. It’s a mutual bond,” said Ms. Greenwood, adding that she and her colleagues from the program are in contact regularly for business and moral support.
Impressed with her progress, Goldman Sachs recommended Ms. Greenwood to speak at the first Urban Economic Forum, a White House-sponsored multi-city series designed to connect urban entrepreneurs and business owners to the local and national resources and networks they need to grow and hire, and to discuss ways to enhance their success. The panel discussion, which took place at Barnard College in New York in February, centered on women entrepreneurs and the trends, advancements and challenges they face in today’s business environment. Ms. Greenwood welcomed the opportunity to connect with like-minded businesswomen. “I felt I was able to connect with the audience and put a face in front of the facts,” she says.
Summing up her experience in 10,000 Small Businesses, Ms. Greenwood said, “This has been amazing opportunity.”
To learn more about the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses initiative at LaGuardia Community College, please:
• Visit www.laguardia.edu/10ksb
• Call our team at 718-730-7400 or
• Email 10KSB@lagcc.cuny.edu
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About Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses:
Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses is an initiative to unlock the growth and job creation potential of 10,000 small businesses across the United States through greater access to business education, financial capital, and business support services. The program operates through a national network of public and private partner organizations including community colleges, business schools and Community Development Financial Institutions. The initiative is currently active in New York, Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, Long Beach, Los Angeles, New Orleans, and Salt Lake City, and will continue to expand to communities across the country. Community partners in New York City include The City of New York, LaGuardia Community College and Seedco Financial Services.
About LaGuardia Community College:
LaGuardia Community College located in Long Island City, Queens, was founded in 1971 as a bold experiment in opening the doors of higher education to all, and we proudly carry forward that legacy today. LaGuardia educates students through over 50 degree, certificate and continuing education programs, providing an inspiring place for students to achieve their dreams. Upon graduation, LaGuardia students’ lives are transformed as family income increases 17%, and students transfer to four-year colleges at three times the national average. Part of the City University of New York (CUNY), LaGuardia is a nationally recognized leader among community colleges for boundary-breaking success educating underserved students. At LaGuardia we imagine new ideas, create new curriculum and pioneer programs to make our community and our country stronger. Visit www.laguardia.edu to learn more.