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A Special Report: Jobs : SOUTH CRENSHAW : Club Attracts, Serves Entrepreneurship

July 11, 1993|ERIN J. AUBRY

Diane Threadgill, a college graduate with experience in civil engineering, said she had always known how to get a job, but not necessarily how to make money. After joining the Millionaire's Club at the Guidance Church of Religious Science, she said she now feels firmly set on the right track.

"Everybody at some point in time wants to go into business for themselves," said Threadgill, a Crenshaw resident. "I want the freedom to do what I want to do, and not be tied to a desk or a location. This club is exposing me to a whole different world."

The Millionaire's Club is a spinoff of an entrepreneurial seminar conducted at the church in April. Led by E. Joseph Cossman, it attracted nearly 300 people interested in learning how to set up their own businesses. A retired Palm Springs businessman who regularly conducts seminars in the Los Angeles area, Cossman started out in the '40s with little more than a letterhead and wound up successfully marketing more than 30 products to mail-order houses and overseas.

"I thought my system would be very important to teach to people who may face prejudice in the working world," Cossman said. "You mostly work from home. And you focus on products or services that you have a personal interest in, money aside."

Like the seminar, the biweekly club meetings review Cossman's 10-step program for product or service marketing. His method teaches participants how to identify a viable product, contact manufacturers, secure marketing rights, and access markets around the world--including direct mail, catalogues and import-export houses.

Though Cossman occasionally attends meetings, they are conducted by Andre Cheeks and Jacqueline Richardson, two local entrepreneurs who used Cossman's techniques to launch a successful greeting-card business.

The club, which now numbers about 50, is open to the public. Members pay a $100 annual fee to cover training, trips and operational costs. But church staffer and club spokesman Wil Wade said dues can be paid in installments. The most important thing, he said, is involving more minorities in effective entrepreneurial training that requires little start-up capital and plenty of tenacity.

"The only way to revitalize the community is to build businesses," Wade said. "The problem is, people get business training, go to the bank for a loan and the bank says no. In this program, you can create with what you have." One young man who attended the seminar now has the marketing rights to six Hong Kong products after investing only $250.

"This is a lot of work. It's not a panacea. But if we sit and wait for government money to help us, we're fooling ourselves."

Information: (213) 778-0773.

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