A profile of the 1995 Entrepreneurship Educator of the Year and the runners-up.
Paul E. Terry has designed and developed an entrepreneurial program that not only trains future company builders but also provides an incubator, a financial-resource center, and a follow-up support network for center alumni
ENTREPRENEURSHIP EDUCATOR Entrepreneurship Educator: An individual who has pioneered effective ways to teach entrepreneurship
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THE WINNER Paul E. Terry Organization: San Francisco Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center
Activity: A consultant to the nonprofit microenterprise-training operation for the past eight years and the architect of its various courses, workshops, and seminars
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THE RUNNERS-UP Carolyn P. Gough Organization: The Franchise Center, College of Business Administration, University of Texas at El Paso
Activity: Founder and executive director of an educational resource center for people interested in entering business through franchising
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David M. Ambrose Organization: Nebraska Rural Communities Program, Omaha
Activity: Enron Professor of Business Administration at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, who has spent more than 20 years teaching entrepreneurship
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Thanks largely to the efforts of Paul E. Terry, 360 formerly low-income and moderate-income San Franciscans are in business for themselves, with combined revenues of $25 million and more than 1,000 new jobs among them. Not that Terry would boast about it. "He's the last person in the world to seek recognition," says Claudia Viek, executive director of the San Francisco Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center, a microenterprise-training operation where Terry has worked as a consultant for the past eight years.
This year's winner of the Entrepreneurship Educator of the Year award, which is sponsored by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, in Kansas City, Mo., Terry started and sold several companies in San Francisco before launching his small-business consulting firm, Paul Terry & Associates. The nonprofit Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center has been his main client since 1987, when Viek retained him to help with strategic planning and development.
At the time, Renaissance offered a single course, taught once a year. With Terry as program architect and, in Viek's words, "spiritual guide," it has since emerged as a model training center for urban company builders. Terry has directed the creation of three levels of entrepreneurship training -- introductory to advanced -- so popular that every business class has at least double the applicants for the space available.
The core curriculum consists of a 14-week, 28-session business-planning course, offered three times a year, at a cost of $400 for 100 hours of instruction. (The tuition is subsidized by corporate sponsors and the federal government.) The focus is on the nitty-gritty of starting and running the kind of businesses Renaissance grads usually attempt -- jewelry and fashion-design operations, framing shops, bakeries, house-painting services, hair salons, and the like. This course, the most comprehensive one offered by the center, has more than 700 graduates.
"It's mostly based on what I learned by running my own companies," Terry says. "We have 25 to 28 people per class. The majority of them haven't started a business yet, and the rest are doing something part-time, in the basement, for example. The teachers are small-business owners who can talk about starting from scratch, and they reflect the ethnic makeup of the class. It's not a poverty program, but most students are from disadvantaged backgrounds. It's a very intensive, hands-on course that culminates with each person's writing a business plan. They are all critiqued, and we assign them advisory teams to help them follow through with their plans."
Three years ago, with Terry's counsel, Renaissance initiated a seven-week class called Introduction to Business. It is offered three times a year and covers such topics as start-up strategies, goal setting, money management, and market research. And last spring the center added an eight-week course called Grow Your Own Business, for established entrepreneurs who want to expand, with tuition pegged at $250 for 20 hours of instruction. Besides those core training courses, Renaissance offers workshops in marketing and sales, finance, loan preparation, accounting and taxes, and management. The center also maintains a state-of-the-art computer training center.
Terry has guided the development of other key Renaissance programs, including a business incubator that has helped more than 20 companies get started. He also has created a formal support network for alumni, complete with newsletters and graduate directories. And keenly attuned to the cash needs of the mostly inner-city student body, he helped design a financial-resource center that hooks graduates up with private bankers and the city's seed-loan fund, which lends $5,000 to $10,000 to fledgling companies.
Terry is paid a consulting fee by the center, but he donates about 20 additional hours a month, often to mentor students. "I do this," he says, "because it's really fun."