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KOREATOWN : Entrepreneurs Want to Make a Difference

April 18, 1993|JAKE DOHERTY

The first 14 participants in a free five-week training program for low-income entrepreneurs will graduate Thursday, and some members of the class can already smell success.

"This class has helped me focus in one direction and has given me confidence," said Adele Renault, who is making and marketing her own brand of incense. "Within 10 years all of us will be making a difference in our communities."

Entrepreneurial ideas can translate into important services and new jobs, said Harry Depp, a trainer for the program offered by the Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment.

"This group has been a joy to work with," said Depp, who uses humor and his business experience in teaching the class. "They're out to do something for themselves and their communities."

Evelyn Grant, who already has a contractor's license and plans to set up a demolition business, said she can't wait to get started. "I'm ready to put on my tin hat and boots and get going," said Grant, who moved here from Britain in 1984.

Grant said the program offered just what she needed. "I thought, 'I don't have the money (to start a business) so I'll have to get the knowledge.' You need to understand how to proceed in a strange land and there are questions about management, taxes, insurance, wages," she said. "You have to know how to do everything right and legal. Then you get people who have equipment to join you."

The daily sessions covered such topics as business myths and mistakes, feasibility studies, business plans, marketing and advertising, bookkeeping, pricing and employment practices. In addition, guest speakers offered advice and each participant received a thick binder full of useful information.

"Before when I had questions about business, no one could help me," said Thien Van Dang, 37, who fled Vietnam in 1979. "Now I can bring my questions to class."

Thien, who arrived in the United States with no money, managed to earn a college degree and now works at his brother's liquor store. "I don't know what business I will go into, but I know I want my own business," he said.

Phyllis Williams, another member of the class, admires that spirit. "This isn't a person who came to take my job," she said. "He's looking to create something new."

Other entrepreneurial ideas include Carolyn Bates' gift selection and delivery service, Richard Samuels' computer embroidery and design shop, and Vanel Winfield's electronic security devices.

For Arief Budiman, originally from Indonesia, and Nina Dass, who was born in India, learning to find information at such places as the Small Business Administration, chambers of commerce and public libraries was especially valuable.

Gene Gatmaitan, who is struggling to expand his electrical services business while supporting his three children in the Philippines, marveled at the multiracial composition of the class. "I never had a chance to be in such company," he said. "We learn from each other."

The program will continue to provide the graduates with technical assistance and advice on finding loans, said Tim Maschler, the project director.

The next session of the federally funded Business Development Center begins June 14 at PACE's offices, 2525 W. 8th St.

Information: (213) 389-8483.

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