Dear Karen: I recently graduated from USC, where I started the first chapter of a microfinance organization on campus. Are there other microfinance organizations in Los Angeles?
Answer: Microenterprise development aims to provide financial services to the poor. Microfinance, a frequent component of microenterprise development, involves lending small amounts to entrepreneurs who probably would not qualify for conventional loans.
There are seven professional microfinance organizations operating in Los Angeles, including CHARO Community Development Corp. and the Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment.
Contact information for all seven programs is available through Microenterprise Fund for Innovation, Effectiveness, Learning and Dissemination, a nonprofit that tracks the nearly 700 microenterprise development programs in the United States, at http://fieldus.org. Hover over "publications" and then click "microenterprise program directory" to search for programs by state.
• Start-ups, be ready to adapt
Dear Karen: I want to start a business this year. What advice can you give me?
Answer: Be flexible and creative. Even the best business plans can be sidetracked in unexpected ways. "Business conditions change and the original idea can't be executed in the 'planned' way. Stock markets crash, credit is tight, customers disappear and so on," said Bryan Janeczko, founder of Wicked Start, a website resource for start-up entrepreneurs.
"To adapt, you must be flexible and willing to change the business model or your approach," he said. "Overcoming challenges is the only way to drive your business success."
Small-business questions? E-mail Karen at email@example.com.