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From Food Stamps to Small Business Owner

IDA participant Jenstar

Jenstar was one of seven recent graduates of the Rocky Mountain MicroFinance Institute’s (RMMFI) “Business Launch Boot Camp.”  It’s hard to believe that just over a year ago she was applying for food stamps, and today she is the proud owner of her own business, JAHA Vocal Sound Healing

Jenstar was connected to RMMFI through Mile High United Way as a participant in the Individual Development Account (IDA) Program. The IDA program is a matched savings program designed to help low-income individuals and families build financial assets to purchase a home, start or grow a small business or pay for college tuition or vocational education. The IDA Program is part of Mile High United Way’s Adult Self-Sufficiency initiative working collaboratively with the community to ensure all individuals have the tools and resources they need to be financially stable.

“I first heard about the IDA program through the Department of Human Services, when I was applying for food stamp assistance,” she recalls. “I mentioned that I wanted to someday open my own business and they told me about the program.”

Without missing a beat, Jenstar called Mile High United Way, and in June 2013 she was enrolled and started saving for her new business. As part of the program, she was connected with MiCasa Resource Center where she completed financial literacy classes, and then to RMMFI to take the “Business Launch Boot Camp.” The Boot Camp is a required 12-week intensive program aimed at bringing ten committed entrepreneurs from idea to launch through a heavy dose of Learning, Lending and Coaching.

“Mile High United Way has completely provided me with the resources I need to officially make myself a small business owner. They provided financial resources and gave me access to a community of people who support and believe in me. To me, that is just as important as the money,” said Jenstar.  

With a lot of hard work and a community of support, Jenstar is now a financial stable adult, and is using her skills and passion to help others.

Learn more about Mile High United Way’s initiatives to help create a better life for children, families and individuals.