“Game changing.” That’s how entrepreneur Jacqueline Sharp describes the impact of the Small Business Risk Education (SBRE) program on her Los Angeles-based business, Fort, which makes furniture from recycled and reclaimed materials, as well as curated vintage pieces. Along with Sharp, more than 60 Los Angeles area small business owners will celebrate completion of the SBRE program tonight at a gathering with keynote speaker and small business advocate Vivica A. Fox. Designed by the Travelers Companies, Inc. (NYSE: TRV), one of the nation’s largest insurers of small businesses, and VEDC (Valley Economic Development Center), the largest non-profit small business lender in California, SBRE leverages the unique expertise of both organizations and provides insurance literacy and risk management training to women and minority entrepreneurs. “The Small Business Risk Education program taught me about risks I had never even considered,” said Sharp, an ambitious small business owner who launched Fort in 2011. “Through training with a Travelers safety professional, I developed a clear sense of potential issues that could impact my ability to staff, grow and manage my company. I now have a risk management plan to prepare for unexpected interruptions and can focus my time on building my business.” Empowering Women and Minorities for Small Business SuccessThrough the training, made possible by a $150,000 grant from Travelers, SBRE provided participants, 77 percent of whom are women, and 70 percent minorities, with:
- Increased awareness of safety risks associated with small business ownership;
- Training and education focused on risk management and business continuity planning; and
- Microloans to support capital investments related to risk management, sustainability and growth for those who qualify.
Roberto Barragan, President & CEO of VEDC, said: “Our mission is to create and sustain jobs in our communities, so the SBRE program is a natural fit for us. By leveraging Travelers’ risk control expertise and providing the necessary access to capital, we’ve been able to provide some of our region’s job creators and innovators with tools that will contribute to a stronger local economy and a better quality of life.”Travelers and Small Business AdvocacyThe Travelers SBRE program is just one of the many ways in which the company advocates for small business owners. The company leverages organizational support and deep knowledge and understanding of risk control, claim response, and underwriting to develop customized initiatives to help protect entrepreneurs. Through the Travelers Institute, Travelers is also committed to working toward public policy solutions for small business owners. The SBRE program began in Los Angeles in early 2012 and Travelers plans to launch the program in Chicago in 2013. About TravelersThe Travelers Companies, Inc. (NYSE: TRV) is a leading provider of property casualty insurance for auto, home and business. A component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, Travelers has more than 30,000 employees and generated revenues of approximately $25 billion in 2011. The company provides support for charitable organizations in the community through the Travelers Foundation and with corporate funding. The company’s community giving is focused on education, community development and the arts. Travelers employees are consistently active in community initiatives and perform thousands of hours in volunteer time each year. For more information, visit www.travelers.com. About VEDCVEDC is the largest non-profit small business lender in California offering direct micro and small business loans through programs including SBA Community Advantage and SBA 504 loans. As a national small business lender, VEDC lends $25 million annually, while providing direct business assistance services to more than 4,000 businesses. With seven offices nationwide VEDC has supported the small business owner for 36 years with the goal of creating and sustaining jobs and businesses in under-served communities. For more information visit www.vedc.org.