As the employment sector continues to struggle, more individuals are turning to self-employment to create stable, rewarding careers. According to the Harvard Business Review, approximately 17 million Americans are self-employed; this number rises to 40 million, roughly a third of the workforce, when you take into consideration contractors, part-timers, and contingent workers.

Given that almost one in five South Carolinians lives in poverty, a prevalent issue in rural areas of the state, self-employment may be the answer they are looking for to gain self-sufficiency. However, there are many challenges to starting your own business, the primary one being financing.

Efforts are underway to help strengthen the economic fabric of rural South Carolina by creating employment opportunities in these underserved areas. Local and regional non-profit organizations recognize their role in providing for economic development opportunities and are offering financial resources to assist with job creation and business start-up and expansion.

New America, Corporation in Orangeburg was founded in 2011 to improve the economy of Orangeburg County by strengthening the capacity of its residents. The non-profit utilizes an innovative approach to helping people help themselves, including the Business Individual Development Account. This program matches individual savings up to $1,000 at a rate of $3 for every $1 saved. If a person saves $1,000, the program will provide a $3,000 match to be used for anything that promotes self-sufficiency, including higher education, buying a home, or starting/expanding a business. All program participants are required to attend personal finance and business training sessions, and must develop a business plan.

And the program is working. Evelyn Hayes, a former teacher in Orangeburg County, realized her dream of owning her own business through a small grant from New America. The $3,000 she received provided the funding needed to grow her business and the local economy. “My main goal was to be in a position to create jobs. I’m on the road to it.”

SC Association of Community Development Corporations
New America’s program is made possible by the support of the SC Association of Community Development Corporations. SCACDC is a state-wide trade association of non-profit, community-based development corporations within the state’s economically distressed communities. SCACDC has several financial programs to assist individuals starting their own business. The Community Economic Development Fund sponsors projects in the state that create jobs and start small businesses, and the SC Individual Development Account Program provides matching funds to six CDCs in the state through funding received from the SC Department of Social Services. SC Community Loan Fund is a member of the SCACDC.

CLF’s Community Business Loan Program
CLF provides loans up to $500,000 to finance acquisition, predevelopment, infrastructure, construction, renovation, leasehold improvements, machinery and equipment, working capital, and permanent financing business costs. Eligible projects include, but are not limited to, retail stores and service businesses, wholesalers, and small manufacturers. To learn more about CLF’s community business loan program, please contact Patrick King at patrick@sccommunityloanfund.org.