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Starting a Business Without Spending a Dime!

When I launched Ojala Threads I was on public assistance, awaiting disability. Because I am childless my monthly allowance from public assistance is $198 a month. This was mind boggling since I had last worked making six figures with the Department of Defense. But the disability process currently takes about three years.

My first application was rejected in 2019. I am now in the process of reapplying. But Ojala was a dream I believed in to strongly to wait until I had enough money saved up to start... Having worked for the government I knew organizations were mandated to support entrepreneurs. So I started digging and asking for help!

My research led to a goldmine of  resources. For the last three years I have used these resources to stretch my pennies. I hope you will do the same. $198 continues to be my budget. So my hunt for resources will never end! 

P.S. One thing that I haven’t been able to find is capital intended for those of us in my situation. As soon as I have some time I plan to raise hell about the amount of funding that goes to nonprofits teaching the same courses. The waste is ridiculous and the Small Business Administration would make a larger impact by GIVING entrepreneurs small amounts of cash meant to support their expansion. There are moments when a small expense totaling less than $500 would make a huge difference for Ojala, but at my level of sales that expense isn’t feasible. I’m going to keep giving this thought.

In the meantime, take advantage of these! And if they add value to your growth, please consider making a donation via: 

Where to Start:

U.S. Small Business Administration
The U.S. Small Business Administration  helps Americans start, build, and grow businesses. They are the OG supporters of entrepreneurship. They fund/ support almost everything on this guide in one way or another. 
Man-Li Lin
Teresa Detelj 
E Economic Development Specialist

New York District Office
U.S. Small Business Administration
T (212) 264-7060

What to expect: Sessions on everything business related (finances, legal, marketing, capital).

Start Small Think Big
We help under-resourced entrepreneurs build businesses in underserved areas so owners can increase their personal financial security and stimulate economic activity in their communities.
8 W. 126th Street, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10027

Make sure to note I referred you on the application, I can win a gift card! 
What to expect: Financial, marketing and legal support. They help in house or support you by referring you to subject matter experts.

FastTrac is a series of entrepreneurship courses offered by the NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) for aspiring and established entrepreneurs throughout New York City. Apply now to gain the knowledge and skills you need to launch and grow your business – and connect to a network of experienced facilitators, business experts, and other successful business owners across NYC.

NYC Department of Small Business Services
110 William Street, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10038
T 212.618.8704 

What to expect: The class offered via this program was amazing. You walk out with a business plan, connections, and resources to get started!

SCORE U.S. Small Business Administration
SCORE is the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors, with more than 10,000 volunteers in 300 chapters. It is funded by the SBA. Probably the only program they fund that shouldn’t be questioned. 

What to expect: Retired experts willing to guide you through every stage of business development. They have experts on every topic from Public Relations to SEO. Go in ready to take advice, and ask questions. Don’t waste their time or yours!

The Microenterprise Project
The Microenterprise Project helps small business owners and microentrepreneurs access high-quality, free legal services from our dedicated staff and our network of pro bono lawyers. For many New Yorkers, owning a small business is an effective path to financial stability and independence. 
Volunteers of Legal Service VOLS
40 Worth Street, Suite 820
New York, NY 10013-2904
T (212) 966-4400

What to expect: You do an intake after being referred by one of the partner organizations and you are then matched with a law firm that will help you with the incorporation process. They can’t represent you in court but are able to create templates, help with contracts and intellectual property. You pay all filing fees associated with the services.

Business Outreach Center (BOC) Network
Business Outreach Center Network’s mission is to improve the economic prospects of traditionally underserved groups, with a focus on low- and moderate-income entrepreneurs and their communities, and thereby create genuinely brighter futures.


At the heart of our mission is the belief that whatever their differences, people and communities share a common goal: to achieve economic stability and growth. Working in partnership with culturally diverse individuals and organizations in support of this shared goal is the hallmark of BOC.

What to expect: Amazing support building a business that will one day scale!

Made In NYC
Made In NYC, an initiative of Pratt Center for Community Development, was created to support the entrepreneurs and innovators creating high-quality, high-value products made locally by New Yorkers for local and global distribution. 
Pratt Center for Community Development
200 Willoughby Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11205

What to expect: They seem to hire the coolest staff, which means they create really unique experiences including exposure, classes, resources, vendor opportunities, marketing and photography support.

The New York Small Business Development Center
The New York Small Business Development Center (NYSBDC) provides small business owners and entrepreneurs in New York with the highest quality, confidential business counseling, training, and business research at no cost.

What to expect: Mentoring, referrals to free legal services.

Columbia Harlem Small Business Development Center
The Columbia-Harlem Small Business Development Center (SBDC) offers resources, mentorship, and programs for small-business owners and entrepreneurs in the Harlem and southern Bronx neighborhoods.

Columbia-Harlem SBDC
475 Riverside Drive
Room 312I
NY, NY 10115

What to expect: Sessions on everything business related (finances, legal, marketing, capital).

Excelsior Growth Fund (EGF), 
Their mission is to help businesses in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania grow by providing small business loans and advisory services. As a nonprofit certified Community Development Financial Institution, we’re a responsible lender you can trust.
Excelsior Growth Fund
5 Hanover Square
Suite 1500
New York, NY 10004

What to expect: They offer courses, and webinars on preparing for loans, keep in mind they are a lender so they will always try to encourage you to apply with them. 


The FIRST VISUAL PLANNER for INSTAGRAM. Clear and to the point web and mobile app — Planoly is the most effective visual social media planner on the market (oh, and you can schedule too)!

What to expect: The app is great. But you gotta use it. Their resources are amazing!

National Association of Women Business Owners 
Founded in 1975, the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) is the unified voice  of over 10 million women-owned businesses in the United States representing the fastest growing segment of the economy.
601 Pennsylvania Ave NW
South Building, Suite 900 
Washington, DC 20004

What to expect: They sometimes offer free trainings, have free resources and a membership program.

WE NYC (Women Entrepreneurs NYC) is an initiative based out of the New York City Department of Small Business Services that is dedicated to helping women start and grow their businesses.
What to expect: They have great events, mentorship sessions, and support crowdfunding via WeFund. Participating in WE Fund Crowd means NYC will be your first lender, pledging 10%, or up to $1,000, of your crowdfunding goal.


Ureeka is a Community where small businesses gain unprecedented access to the expertise needed to grow their business.

What to expect: they regularly hold events, and offer resources but don't miss their grant announcements!

We All Grow
The #WeAllGrow Latina membership group, AMIGAS, is the social network for original content, digital tools, virtual events and community for Latina entrepreneurs, creatives and professionals.
¡Se puede participar en inglés y en español!
What to expect: if you enjoy networking this is the tool for you! the members are welcoming, supportive and they create unique experiences for Latinas.
Find funding, opportunities, and experts along your small business journey - all for free.
The more you use Hello Alice, the better she gets to know you. Your recommendations improve each time you click, so whether you're looking for a mentor or figuring out how to acquire customers, Hello Alice tells you what you want to know, when you need it.
What to expect: Alice has tweaked its model since COVID in a good way. Their weekly updates are full of helpful information, their grant opportunities are awesome and their resources and courses are amazing!

Harlem Community Development Corporation
Harlem Community Development Corporation (“HCDC”), a subsidiary of the New York State Urban Development Corporation, d/b/a Empire State Development Corporation, was created in 1995 to serve the greater Harlem community, including Central Harlem, El Barrio/East Harlem, Washington Heights and West Harlem. It supersedes the Harlem Urban Development Corporation (HUDC) that existed from 1971 to 1995.

163 West 125th Street
17th Floor
New York, NY  10027
(212) 961-4169

What to expect: programming


I'll continue to update this as other resources cross my path! Take a look at our shop and see what I've achieved with the help of these organizations!

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