By Cole Bradley, High Ground News
Memphis entrepreneurs are getting national attention thanks to GoDaddy, the world’s largest digital platform for small businesses, and their local nonprofit partner Communities Unlimited.
On November 22, the organization hosted a premier at the Halloran Centre of its new short format doc-series, Made in America. The first four episodes follow a handful of the 50 small-business owners in the first Mid-South cohort of GoDaddy’s small business development program, Empowered by GoDaddy.
“It’s the first of its kind docu-series highlighting Memphis entrepreneurs, Memphis communities and the work we are doing in Memphis through our social impact program, Empower by GoDaddy,” said Stacy Cline, GoDaddy’s director of corporate citizenship.
Empowered by GoDaddy is a 12-month program that offers eight trainings on topics including website design, branding, social media and search engine optimization. Participants receive one-on-one mentoring from GoDaddy staff and no-cost access to all of GoDaddy’s small business offerings, including two years of web hosting.
“Our mission is to equip entrepreneurs in under-served communities with the training, tools and resources that they need to be successful,” said Cline.
“There’s a really big gap in the entrepreneurial ecosystem for entrepreneurs who are in under-served areas or [minority] entrepreneurs. There’s a big lack of access to capital, there’s a lack of technical assistance.”
The docu-series highlights the Memphis cohort’s barriers to business growth and progresses made in the Empowered by GoDaddy program. It also puts their companies on a world stage.
The episodes are available on GoDaddy’s website, social media platforms, and YouTube channel. View them here.
“It’s going to be a landing spot for years to come for people to see what GoDaddy’s doing in the community, what we’re doing to help entrepreneurs and to see some of the real stories of [Memphis’ entrepreneurs],” said Cline.
The next episodes the Made in America series will highlight entrepreneurs in other cities then revisit cities in previous episodes, including Memphis.
Sequoia Ferguson (seated) is in the Empowered by GoDaddy business development program and featured in GoDaddy’s new Made in America docu-series. She was on hand at the series’ Memphis premier with her apparel and accessories. (Cole Bradley, High Ground News)
On The Ground and On Film
Communities Unlimited is GoDaddy’s Memphis-area facilitator for Empowered by GoDaddy.
“We have a lot of rural small businesses and small businesses that don’t have a website presence still today,” said Cynthia Terry, Communities Unlimited’s director of entrepreneurship,
of their motivation to partner with GoDaddy.
Communities Unlimited operates across seven southern states. It’s Memphis location serves the tri-state region.
Communities Unlimited is a community development financial institution. A CDFI offers high-risk loans to entrepreneurs who have been denied by traditional lenders. The organization also offers its clients customized, one-on-one business mentoring and low-risk opportunities to open a brick-and-mortar store with its MEMShop program.
The organization funded the launch of several of the small businesses featured in the docu-series and selected the Empowered by GoDaddy participants from its existing clients.
“What I love about [the docu-series] is that I’m not sure there’s any other corporation as large as [GoDaddy] taking on an initiative like this to travel around the country to learn abut the struggles of small businesses,” said Terry.
The Memphis cohort is half way through the year-long program, but the partners have already seen their skills and confidence grow.
“When you watch the film and you hear the stories from [the entrepreneurs], the barriers that they’ve had and the things that have happened in their life and where they’re at today is abolsutely incredible,” said Cline.
Attendees at GoDaddy’s Made in America docu-series premier enjoyed drinks, food, and conversation by the fire before the film began. (Cole Bradley, High Ground News)
The entrepreneurs featured in the film included Consuelo Rosales, owner of Consuelo’s Cleaning Service, and Sequoia Ferguson, owner of That’s So You Boutique, which offers clothing, accessories and personal styling. Both feature heavily in the docu-series.
In the series you see Ferguson taking a bit leap from a brick-and-mortar store to a mobile boutique with the help of the Empowered by GoDaddy program.
Rosales is a single mom with three kids who started her business to gain financial independence so she could leave her abusive husband. Her biggest business needs going into the Empowered by GoDaddy program were help building her English language skills and a website to attract commercial clients.
By the end of episodes, Rosales had three new commercial clients, a new website, and her first employee.
“They all have very powerful stories of how they’ve started their businesses and why they’re doing it,” said Cline.
“I hope that their business booms,” she said of those featured in the film. “For the ones [with] day jobs, I hope they can finally quit and be running their business full time. They’re ready for it … We just want to make sure they’re successful.”