Keya Williams didn’t win first place in the North Carolina Community Action Association’s (NCCAA) competition for best presentation in its program for entrepreneurs. She didn’t win second or third place, either.
But if you ask her, she hit the jackpot.
Despite not winning any of the NCCAA $10,000 award, Williams, in fact, did receive something which is proving to be even more valuable. “I learned how to run my own business,” she said.
Williams, 35, enrolled in a 10-week entrepreneurial course offered by Sandhills Community Action Program (SCAP) in Moore County. The course is part of SCAP’s CSBG/STARS Self Sufficiency Program which assists low-income, unemployed or under-employed individuals in achieving financial stability.
“The program was phenomenal,” Williams said. “The course provided a different speaker every day. These presenters taught us everything about running a business – how to get financing, how to register the business, how to get trademarks.”
Within weeks of finishing the SCAP course, Williams quit her job at a dry cleaner, and her husband, Steven, 42, quit his as a Federal Express driver, to become fulltime entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, one month after launching Sandhills Screen Printing, the coronavirus pandemic hit, forcing Keya and Steven to find other ways to keep the business going. The couple soon began incorporating personalized protective masks into their service offerings.
Keya credits SCAP and its case management staff for her business success and ability to give back to her local community. “They had great people coming through” the program, she said. “I still have the notes, paperwork and books from the class, and I go back and look through them when I need to find something out.”
While her screen-printing business is slower than she’d like, Keya said the couple is planning for a bright future.
“A year from now,” she said, “we hope to expand and have two more embroidery machines so we can produce faster results for our customers.”
Learn more about Sandhills Screen Printing.