The Entrepreneurship Center was founded to provide entrepreneurs from ethnically and economically diverse groups with the education, tools and access to SBA micro loan products necessary to launch, expand and sustain small business.
DREAM TEAM @ the Entrepreneurship Center
Franky Descoteaux, Director
I believe that communities thrive when they have a strong foundation of entrepreneurs, who spend their days improving the quality of their product and service in order to provide value to their friends and their neighbors. I believe that when communities have strong economic engines that allow community members to create financial freedom, by sharing their skills and passion, all other indicators, including social, economic, physical and health, begin to improve…
I am a philosopher at heart who stumbled into entrepreneurship. I believe it’s important for communities to bump into each other, openly exchanging ideas and good fortune, especially when it is hard. I have found that entrepreneurship is one of the ways I can express this vision, as an idea and in action. I have done this through restaurants, retail stores as well as technology businesses.
I am proud to have been a small part of the downtown revitalization in Lowell. I am proud to have a continual and growing vision of how our lives can improve and I am proud to be fighting for the best outcomes for all people, through entrepreneurship.
My professional goals are to serve the social, economic and spiritual needs of my community by helping people understand the power of connection and the vital role that each of us plays into that oneness. My tool is entrepreneurship and creative expression through dance, interior design and life coaching.
My goal at the Entrepreneurship Center is to find ways to offer services and support that solve real and existential questions about life that contribute to our long-term vision of our neighborhoods, our cities, our country and our world.
“Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun.” – Alan Wilson Watts
Ani Vong, Small Business Coach
I believe it takes a village to nourish a community; one which supports each other and is kind and uplifting.
Being a retail and e-commerce business owner myself, I have a deeper understanding of small business owner’s struggles and challenges, and opportunities. Growing up in Lowell and knowing the parts of Lowell and witnessing its changes and progress, I also have a deep connection and understanding of what it takes to build a hyper-local community-based business.
I am proud of my ability to get a group of different people to come together to support causes that we believe in. I am proud of my ability to rally people to make a positive impact in our community.
My professional goals are to make a difference in my community by amplifying unheard voices using my platform and to inspire young girls to dream big and become leaders. I am also committed to never stop learning and listening.
My goals at the Entrepreneurship Center are to support entrepreneurs, as well as to educate the public about what it really means to be a small business owner, including understanding all the beauty and ugliness that comes with it, so that they can support their local small businesses effectively.
Jessica MacDonald, Small Business Coach
Jessica is a long-time resident of downtown Lowell. She has been an active member in the community for many years with an enthusiasm to help her city thrive.
Jessica has over 25 years of experience in the service industry that began at a young age, and has continued to evolve. These roles have included almost all aspects of restaurant operations from dishwasher to General Manager. She understands the “real time” work ethic, small business and grassroots success, and the invaluable necessity of good leadership.
One of her most rewarding roles included being the Director of Training and Development, where she was instrumental in opening multiple restaurant locations from inception to their highly profitable achievement.
Jessica looks forward to continuing to be of service in a coaching and mentoring capacity. She believes strongly that it is important to share our experiences, life lessons, and knowledge in order to raise each other up, support each other, and help foster success through pride of ownership.
In addition, Jessica is currently working on taking her skills, expertise, and creativity to the next level by eventually opening a business of her own. She is passionate about music, travel, herbalism, and crafting natural products for home and body care. She plans to integrate these personal passions into her business elements.
Jessica finds inspiration, and direction from this mantra:
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”
Small businesses received 3,846 hours of technical assistance support from the Entrepreneurship Center
Business Coaching / Consulting
We provide business coaching, consulting, and funding to honor the work of our local entrepreneurs, ensuring that our community-based businesses thrive! We provide business coaching in many forms, including one-on-one, workshops and daily zoom calls. We also work with partners including SCORE, EforAll and other small business consultants. We’re a microlender, providing much-needed mission-based funding to small businesses at all stages. Our programs evolve over time, so please come back often to learn more about our coaching programs.
Onsite Team Based Consulting
Specialized Technical Assistance Teams – STAT
STAT stands for Specialized Technical Assistance Teams (STAT). Technical Assistance is Business Coaching. In partnership with the SBA PRIME and the City of Lowell, we are proud to provide consulting teams to restaurants and retailers in Lowell, MA.
Consulting services are free to the entrepreneur and will focus on the areas of Operations, Finance, Marketing and Wellness. Consultants will be paid commensurate with their experience.
Consulting is available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Khmer. If you need support in another language, we will do our best to accommodate you.
To apply to be a consultant in one of the four areas listed above, or to request to be a part of the STAT program, please apply below.
Virtual Business Coaching
Zoom Monday – Thursday at 1:30 P.M.
We provide virtual business coaching Monday – Thursday at 1:30 on Zoom. We can discuss everything from pre-launch ideation, business plan development, business funding, site evaluation, business exit and everything in between.
Keep in mind that our first call may be exploratory as we learn more about your business. Also, Zoom is open daily for virtual calls, so others may be on the call.
To received the Zoom ID, you must have completed the New Business Intake Form. If you have already completed that and lost the Zoom ID, please request it again below.
Lowell Makes Entrepreneurship Coming Soon!
There is a growing technology skills gap across all facets of business, including tools that improve efficiency and effectiveness in operations, financial management, and marketing. There is also little equity in access and education around basic technology.
The Entrepreneurship Center seeks to close the digital divide by raising funds to supply technology to small businesses as well as to provide access to the tools and education needed to compete in the digital marketplace.
In partnership with Lowell Makes and MGCC, the Entrepreneurship Center will be building a Digital Education & Content Studio, which will provide a space for entrepreneurs to learn how to use modern tools and equipment for video and audio production; product photography; business-scale printers, as well as access to video and audio equipment that can be checked out for off-site production.
Many of our clients request a full scope of services, which we, unfortunately, cannot provide as part of our regular service. With that said, we are happy to introduce you to a paid consultant or discuss what it would cost for us to provide these services for a fee.
- Business Plan Development: this includes writing the business plan, although we are happy to review a written business plan and provide feedback.
- Bookkeeping Services: this includes data entry, although we are happy to review financial statements to support your education.
- Marketing Management: this includes developing marketing campaigns, taking photographs and video, etc., although we are happy to provide an assessment of your existing campaigns
- Website Development: this includes the conceptualization and development of your website, although we are happy to review and provide feedback.
- E-commerce Development: this includes building your e-commerce site and populating it with content, although we are happy to review and provide feedback.
- Operations Review or Development: this includes evaluating and assisting in the creation of effective and efficient operations and systems, although we are happy to provide an assessment and guidance.
Small Business Funding
Affordable, flexible capital is essential to launch, operate, grow and scale your business. Funding that is accompanied by business coaching is an added bonus. We offer both with our mission-based SBA Microloan, and ACRE Catalyst Fund. We fund all stages of business, including startup. We are able to fund individuals with poor or limited credit, depending on the credibility of the business plan, financial projections and the entrepreneur’s ability to operate the business and pay back the loan.
The SBA Microloan provides mission-funds for local small business owners. The Entrepreneurship Center service area includes Middlesex & Essex County. The SBA Microloan is part of the Cares Act Debt Relief program.
- Loan Terms: Up to 6 Years
- Loan Amount: Up to $50,000
- Interest Rate: 7.75% Initially, Reduced to 5.25% after completing 20 hours of business coaching.
Qualifications: Business must be located in the Entrepreneurship Center’s SBA Service Area. All interested applicants must complete a New Business Intake Form as well as an SBA Eligibility Form.
ACRE Catalyst Fund
The ACRE Catalyst Fund is a loan fund, in partnership with the Entrepreneurship Center JDCU and Working Cities Challenge. These funds are earmarked to support ACRE neighborhood businesses and residents.
- Loan Terms: Up to 5 Years
- Loan Amount: Up to $20,000
- Interest Rate: 6%
Qualifications: Businesses or Business Owners must be located in the ACRE Neighborhood of Lowell, MA. All interested applicants must complete a New Business Intake Form as well as an SBA Eligibility Form.
Small Business Grants
This service varies based on the availability of grant funding. The Entrepreneurship Center is a key partner with MGCC and the State of Massachusetts, offering support on grant applications, cure, and follow up.
We also work with the City of Lowell, Town of Chelmsford and other institutions to support businesses apply for small business grants.
If we learn of a new grant opportunity we will send the information through our newsletter. Please sign up for our newsletter and social media to stay informed.
We are grateful to these partners whose generosity makes it possible for us to serve our local entrepreneurs.
More About This Program:
Our purpose is to serve our small business community.
We do this by providing education, coaching, business capital, and of course LOVE to our local entrepreneurs. Local entrepreneurs are our hero’s because they (you) create the communities we want to live in. You are our neighbors and our friends; you feed us, clothe us, fix our cars, chimney’s and roofs; you create art for us, make music for us, and dance with us; you serve us. We serve you.
If engaging with the entrepreneurship center for the first time, start here. (You must fill out the new business intake form prior to speaking with us)