samuel adams’ brewing the american dream expands nationally
The Boston Beer Company has announced the national expansion of the Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream program. With a focus on helping small businesses related to food, beverage, craft brewing and hospitality, Brewing the American Dream provides loans and industry-specific coaching, mentoring and educational resources to business owners who find it difficult to access the capital and guidance needed to sustain and grow their businesses.
While in the past only a handful of regions had access to the program, the national expansion of Brewing the American Dream will target at least $1 million in new loans, expanded for the first time to recipients across the country, with significantly increased access to its high-impact one-on-one mentoring and coaching activities. Additionally, the nationwide program includes the introduction of the new Brewing the American Dream Online Community, the first online resource to provide small business owners in the food, beverage and hospitality sector with a comprehensive platform of tools to help their businesses succeed.
Working in partnership with Accion, the country’s only nationwide microlender, Brewing the American Dream already has provided more than $1 million in micro-financing to close to 150 businesses and created or saved nearly 1,000 jobs. Just as importantly, since it began a few years ago, the program has offered one-on-one coaching and advised nearly 3,000 small business owners in the food, beverage, craft brewing and hospitality industries throughout New England, New York, Chicago, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Hands-On Education, An Exceptional Repayment Rate and a Founder Rejected by Banks
“What differentiates Brewing the American Dream is the combination of loans and hands-on education,” says Jim Koch, brewer and founder of Samuel Adams. “Working with Accion, we identify small business applicants who are often viewed as too risky by traditional banks — yet at the forefront of job creation and growth within their local communities — and where a relatively modest loan can have a meaningful impact. From there, we get down in the trenches with them through one-on-one mentoring and coaching to help them grow their businesses.”
Koch noted that a key indicator of the program’s success is the fact that it is reporting a default rate that’s low by micro lending standards and certainly well below other programs.
“I think a large part of the program’s success is due to our ability to offer in-depth expertise and advice that comes from living and breathing the food and beverage industry every day. We understand the challenges because we’ve been there; I’ve been there. From being turned down by banks 28 years ago when I was just starting out and desperately needed funding, to figuring out how to distribute my product, I know firsthand what these small business owners are going through and sincerely believe that Brewing the American Dream can help them overcome many of their obstacles.”
More Coaching and an Online Community
As part of its national expansion in 2012, Brewing the American Dream will extend its speed coaching events into Los Angeles, Denver, Washington D.C., San Diego and Austin. These events also will continue to be held throughout the year across New England, New York, Chicago, Cleveland, Cincinnati and eastern Pennsylvania.
Additionally, a key part of the program’s expansion involves the Brewing the American Dream Online Community. Designed to grow and expand with the program, it is the first online network for small business owners in the food and beverage industry to provide various educational resources, such as video tutorials, interactive discussion boards and forums, etc. While some reference material will cover general small business education topics, including managing finances and business planning, the site also will focus on offering specific insights related to the food and beverage sector, such as food and beverage packaging guidelines, and strategies for product marketing and distribution.
Lending To Small Businesses Stalled
“The lending environment is still challenging for a lot of small businesses,” says Gina Harman, president and CEO of Accion’s U.S. Network. “In fact, a recent study showed lending to small businesses has stalled and consequently small business growth may be slowing. The bottom line is that public-private partnerships that deliver real value to small business owners like Brewing the American Dream are needed now more than ever.”
Harman also confirmed the importance of the educational component of the program. “Since the Small Business Administration recently announced it will make cuts to its counseling and training programs that accompany microloans, it’s extremely important to have resources like Brewing the American Dream that can fill the education gap that’s so critical to small businesses success.”