SEED of Change

Today I attended SEED Training, a financial literacy course which clients of ECDI must first taking before being able to qualify for one of our small business loans. As much as I do love research and writing for the Development Department, I really look forward to the occasional opportunities I get to interact with ECDI clients. Sitting in on trainings has not only been a great way to get to know the programs I’m researching and writing grants for, it’s also helped me stay passionate about what I’m doing. When you’re neck deep in data analysis or sitting in organizational meetings all week, it’s easy to forget why your work is important. For those of you who read my last post, I’ve been having a hard time with one of my projects, and sometimes it’s a little disheartening to find that what you want to be able to do just isn’t as doable as you think it should be. However, today I was reminded that it isn’t about me or what I want to do. It’s about doing whatever I can to help people like the ones in SEED training achieve their dreams and, in doing so, promote economic wellbeing in my community.
The participants in SEED had so much potential, it was truly inspiring. Not only have the ECDI clients I’ve met so far deeply passionate about their own businesses, they’re often more than willing to help others, even those in similar industries. Of those in attendance today, two women were interested in the soul-food business. One, Mrs. M, already had an established drive-thru and was looking to find more capital while the other, Ms. K, was hoping to open her own restaurant after years of working in food services. Although both women immediately realized that they would be competing for some of the same clients, I was shocked by the bond they formed with each other during class. “There’s plenty of market for both of us!” Mrs. M reassured her young competitor, “There’s a demand for what we do, don’t you worry about it!” Mrs. M then asked Ms. K if she was planning on offering seafood, which Mrs. M could not sell at her restaurant due to a food allergy. When Ms. K said she would be, Mrs. M immediately promised to send her own regulars over to Ms. K’s restaurant if they ever wanted for seafood. Ms. K said she would be happy to keep normal business hours and send late-night customers to Mrs. M, whose business is open 24/7. It was truly heartwarming to see these two women choose to help rather than hurt each other’s businesses, and as the session progressed many of the participants offered similar aid and advice to others in the class. It’s always important to be reminded that what I’ve been doing every day is in small part allowing connections to be formed between amazing people like these.

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