South LA business center promotes:  Be your own boss!

imageStephen and Johnson, graduates of the Level 2 training program are now working together on a project.

Abel Stephen and Reginald Johnson have big dreams of becoming successful entrepreneurs, but both men realized they needed help in figuring out how to make it happen. When they learned about a free entrepreneurial training program in South LA, they jumped at the chance to participate.

The training program, run by the Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation (VSEDC) is sponsored by the City of Los Angeles, which wants to promote the growth of small businesses and job creation.

The classes are intensive and are divided into two levels. Level 1, which lasts three weeks, provides basic skills and orientation on how to start your own business. Level 2 is eight weeks and teaches people with start-up ideas how to raise capital and draft a business plan.

“In many ways, this place is like a gold mine,” says Ivory Chambeshi, program administrator at the L.A. BusinessSource Center, South Los Angeles Region, one of six centers sponsored by the Mayor’s Office of Small Business in the City of Los Angeles. “We have experts here people can turn to and we provide those services for free.”

imageIvory Chambeshi, Program Administrator of the Business Enterprise Center.

Stephen and Johnson met in one of the classes… and now, they’re working together to achieve their goals.

Stephen, a former Vice President of Development and Business Strategy for the non-profit Rescue Mission, is now owner and CEO of Myrtum Corp., a business and technology consulting company. Although he started working on building his company in 2004, he formally finished his business plan after completing his Level 2 training.

“This gave me the discipline focus to get started,” he explains. “I also got a concrete presentation of what my business should look like. I realized my true niche is helping other small businesses.”

Stephen is currently helping former classmate Johnson, a former High School coach who wants to start a non-profit that will help inner city youth develop job skills and give them a better outlook on life.

“I’m in the starting gate,” he says. “I just need a little more planning and I’ll be able to put my business out there and get more people involved to help in what I’m trying to do. I’m closer to my goals than I thought.”

The BusinessSource Center also offers low-cost office space, one on one business and loan counseling, as well as resource referrals for both start ups and established businesses.

Artie and Theresa Martin, owners of Martin and Sons Tree Trimming Service, which has been in business since 1974, are seeking help to expand their business.

imageTheresa and Artie Martin listen to consultant Farid A. Haqq about how to expand their business.

“They’re here to get counseling on business planning strategies to improve their operations,” explains Farid A. Haqq, consultant for VSEDC.

The South LA BusinessSource Center is open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 6 pm and Saturdays from 9 am to 1 pm. The entrepreneurial programs are held on Saturdays.

“People have to be committed and willing to put a lot of work. They need to invest the time, learn as much as they can, build relationships and take advantage of the resources that are out there. We help them put it all together. It’s up to them to succeed,” says Chambeshi.

You can find more more information on the program and locations of the other centers in the City of Los Angeles on

You can also learn more about the Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation, which runs the South LA center at