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Wall St. and Business Wednesdays: Guiding Black Entrepreneurs To Resources by Beth Fitzgerald

African-American entrepreneurs should be taking better advantage of programs designed to help them launch and expand their businesses, says Paula McCoy-Pinderhughes.

The Somerset-based writer's book, "How to Be An Entrepreneur and Keep Your Sanity," (Amber Books, $14.95) is intended as a guide for African-American entrepreneurs, and it grew out of a decade spent writing about minority business.

A former IBM marketing executive, McCoy-Pinderhughes published the Franklin Voice during the 1990s, a monthly newspaper for African-American businesses in central New Jersey. She sold the newspaper in 1999 and it has ceased publication. She went on to write for Black Enterprise magazine.

Her experiences convinced her African-American entrepreneurs face particular challenges in businesses and need to become aware of the many workshops, courses and consulting services -- much of it government subsidized and free of charge -- that could speed the process along.

She said most of her ideas apply to any small business, but the chapter "Show Me the Money" targets African-Americans.

"Quite honestly, we have a harder time when we walk into a bank for a loan," McCoy-Pinderhughes said. "Sad to say in 2004, racism is still the major reason. But it is also true that a lot of entrepreneurs are not equipped with the right information that lenders are looking for."

Lenders expect to see financial statements and a business plan, "and these are not easy things to put together in a day or a week," she said. "But there are places you can go, organizations that will walk you through all of this."

She is a fan of both SCORE, whose volunteer business executives provide free counseling, and the Small Business Development Centers, which also offer individuals free counseling. Both programs operate at locations throughout New Jersey and are funded by the by the U.S. Small Business Administration (

Her book has an extensive resource section that points entrepreneurs in the direction of free or low-cost assistance. The book can be ordered online and further information is available at her Web site:

"New Jersey has a wealth of knowledge and places to go to get help," she said. "But often small businesses have tunnel vision: They keep their business going and deal with what is going on day-to-day, but they really need to take the time to step outside and meet with people who can help them."

The Venture Association of New Jersey is signing up entrepreneurs to exhibit at its annual "Business & Technology Showcase & Elevator Pitch Olympics" Oct. 25 at the Headquarters Plaza Hotel in Morristown. The event is limited to 40 companies. Call (973) 267-4200, ext. 193, or visit

Beth Fitzgerald is a Star-Ledger Staff Writer and can be contacted via e-mail at:

Note: This article first appeared in The Star Ledger

Copyright 2004 All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

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