Empower Cedar Rapids is removing barriers for underserved entrepreneurs

Since 2017, Empower Cedar Rapids has been equipping entrepreneurs in underserved areas with the training, tools and resources that they need to be successful.

A program through the Jane Boyd Center, Empower Cedar Rapids is a 12-week commitment that allows participants access to customized workshops, trained coaching staff, industry experts and a wide range of resources.

“The twelve weeks is just the initial phase of the program,” said Maurice Davis, who oversees the Empower program. “After that, they’ll go through direct mentorship.”

The first chunk of the 12 weeks is dedicated toward helping entrepreneurs go through the Business Canvas Model to flush out their ideas and validate that their business makes sense.

“After that, we go into a second phase where we address their online presence,” said Davis. “That’s a portion where GoDaddy helps by applying them with a free website for two years and also some interaction with GoDaddy to help them build their website.”

The last section of the 12-week program is dedicated to getting the participants ready to communicate their business. “We do some pitch prep and get them used to the idea of getting them pitching their business out to the community,” said Davis.

Currently, the 12-hour program runs twice a year — once in the spring and once the fall.

The entry level programming shown on the website doesn’t cost anything. The program is currently working on creating higher level programs that will cost $100.

“Everything that we do is purely for the sake of helping the entrepreneur. And anything that we’re doing where we’re charging, it’s strictly out of necessity,” said Davis. “Our people get 100% of whatever they put into us back in some sort of value to them.”