DHL Offers Support for (Very) Small Business

Wednesday Jun 1st 2005 by Lauren Simonds
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Two programs from DHL and AEO offer the smallest of the SMBs a financial leg-up.

Running a small business isn't easy for anyone, but the challenges facing low-and-moderate income business owners often present an overwhelming barrier to success. In an effort to develop and support entrepreneurs that run micro-enterprises, DHL — in partnership with the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) — recently announced two new programs designed to promote business growth and success.

Defined as a business with one to five employees and needing less than $35,000 in startup capital, micro-enterprises represent one of the more underserved business populations in the U.S.

The DHL/AEO joint venture aims to help business owners start, stabilize and expand their companies by providing cash, in-kind product donations and hands-on business expertise. Bill Edwards, AEO executive director, explained the partnership and its potential benefit to the business community in a company statement.

"DHL recognizes that small businesses are driving new job development and economic growth in the U.S.," he said. "This partnership is a rare opportunity for our members and for moderate income entrepreneurs. With the commitment of DHL and its employees to provide hands-on business advice and expertise, the programs will have a strong and lasting impact on both the selected micro-enterprise development organizations and local businesses in need of support."

The Programs
The DHL/AEO partnership consists of two programs: The DHL Advancing Micro-Entrepreneurs program will award 30 micro-entrepreneurs cash equity awards in the amount of $1,000 each along with an equal amount in DHL Ship Ready pre-paid products.

Through the DHL Cares Day Project, DHL employees will donate their skills and talents to selected micro-entrepreneurs through its volunteer-based company program. Local AEO partner organizations will coordinate this effort. DHL volunteers will offer guidance on a range of small-business issues such as supply chain management and customer service.

In a statement, Kelly Keogh, DHL's director of corporate citizenship, said, "This program allows DHL to go beyond cash contributions and in-kind donations, letting DHL volunteers directly mentor and provide business counsel to these budding businesses with functions ranging from accounting to logistics."

Three AEO member companies — serving as local partners — will coordinate the awards and the regional volunteer activities. Those companies include the following: Micro-BusinessUSA in Miami, ACCION Texas in Houston and Self-Employment Loan Fund Inc. in Phoenix. Finally, DHL is offering AEO members pricing discounts on express shipping through a DHL association and affinity discount program.

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com

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