Small Enterprise Economic Development (SEED)

Award Category: Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Project Site: Small Enterprise Economic Development (SEED)
Submitted By: New York State Small Business Development Center
Contact: William Brigham

Case Study


The project is the first of its kind – a university character-based micro-lending program, the Small Enterprise Economic Development (SEED). SEED includes key elements to address the specific needs of the underserved entrepreneurs including: active candidate recruitment, training and mentorship support for the candidates, and capital access (loans) using non-traditional criteria called character-based lending. Encouraging the formation and growth of small businesses and entrepreneurship is an important strategic goal of New York State, especially in low-income populations where traditional forms of capital are scarce and poor credit is a barrier to accessing capital. Such populations also typically lack access to business ownership training and strong mentorship support necessary to achieve business success.


SEED is a public-private partnership micro-lending program that combines the resources of the Empire State Development (ESD), University at Albany’s Schools of Social Welfare and Business, the Albany Regional Small Business Development Center (“SBDC”) and the State Employees Federal Credit Union (“SEFCU”) to address specific needs of underserved entrepreneurs. SEED has successfully provided access to capital this past year using criteria referred to as character-based lending. This non-traditional form of lending assesses an individual’s creditworthiness based on the careful observation of the personality of the entrepreneur in terms of relevant expert knowledge, entrepreneurship, good knowledge of the relevant market, the ability to handle crisis and the social context of the entrepreneur. The program was awarded a Tribecca Distructive Innovation Award.


Regional Economic Priority There is a high rate of return on investment as:

  • $825,000 will have been invested into the region and created or saved 92 jobs Program exceeded projected goals for Year 1.
  • $1,051 of state investment will have yielded one job under this proposal (based on 92 jobs from an investment of $96,700).
  • The SEED project requires no public funding for the loan fund as the $2.5M revolving loan fund is totally funded by private investment from SEFCU. In addition, SEFCU is providing the loan fund administration as an in-kind contribution.
  • The project leverages substantial University at Albany investment including faculty experts, student mentors, numerous student organizations, strong support from key top-level administrators.

Future Considerations

This model can be easily replicated with SBDC and educational institutions across the state in SEFCU’s regional operations including cities of Binghamton and Syracuse. The SEED project is a unique cross-sector and cross-disciplinary partnership involving UAlbany School of Social Welfare and School of Business and Albany Small Business Development Center, SEFCU and NYS Empire State Development

Other Items

John Robinson

Our Ability

Funding Amount – $35,000
Jobs Created/Saved– 1

Mr. Robinson entered the SEED Program after being denied the necessary financing to fund the start-up costs associated with the business, training and mentorship.  Lenders felt the venture was too speculative and his disability may have also limited consideration.  Our Ability specifically sells video production on a paid per video basis, as well as mentoring and consulting services on an hourly basis.  Mr. Robinsons dedicated to the long-term success of Our Ability and the potential positive impact the company can have with people with disabilities.  When he was a young adult and high school student, he had never met anyone his own height until he was 25 years old, and encountered very few people with physical disabilities as a young person. He knows from his conversations around the country people with disabilities in business share the same stories. His goal with Our Ability is to create a web portal for young people to view, listen to, read and interact with successful people with disabilities in the education and business world.

Tyrone Newsome

Baby Malcolm’s Concierge

Funding Amount – $35,000
Jobs Created/Saved – 5

Baby Malcolm’s Concierge is a transportation and concierge business that has been operating in Albany since 2008.  Established by Tyrone Newsome, the company has grown from a single taxi to four taxies in the last three years.  As a result of student loans and lack of collateral, traditional financing is not an option to fund the expansion of the business at this time.  Mr. Newsome joined the SEED Program this spring for both the funding potential of the program and the professional development aspects of the training. The growth of Baby Malcolm’s Concierge is the passion of Mr. Newsome, he is dedicated and driven to ensure that the business is successful as well as a company that he can be proud of.

Kerri-Ann Wilson

Heaven on Earth Beauty Salon

Funding Amount – $35,000
Jobs Created/Saved – 5

Heaven on Earth Beauty Salon is an existing salon in Albany, NY specializing in hair care services for African American and ethnic women.  Operating in a very small location with the principal, Kerry-Ann Wilson, and one other stylist, the business was limited in the profit potential of the business and needed to expand into a new location for the long term viability of the business. Although the existing business is successful and profitable as well as provided a modest living for Mr. Wilson, the business finances were limited by the existing location to fund the expansion of the business.  The lack of equity and available collateral preclude Ms. Wilson from attaining traditional financing for the expansion.  Ms. Wilson entered the SEED Program to assist her in attaining business skills and financing for the expansion of the business.  The expansion of Heaven on Earth Beauty Salon entails moving to a new more visible location with parking, renovations to the location and installation of six styling stations, five shampoo stations and eight drying stations.  The new location of the business will have an expanded retail display area, product offering and a more welcoming reception/waiting area for clients.

Rosemarie Coleman

Funding Amount – $35,000
Jobs Created/Saved – 6

The expansion and existence of Orchids, a Jamaican restaurant, is the lifelong dream of the principal, Rosemarie Coleman, but with no cash and collateral the business was in trouble and had no access to capital. Ms. Coleman applied for the SEED program to secure funding in the expansion and relocation of her existing restaurant. Her current location is too small with no room to expand. The new location will allow her to add additional services such as catering, a dine hall/banquet facility, and add a breakfast menu.

With the funding through the SEED program, Ms. Coleman will be able to successfully expand her business and continue to grow. The proceeds of the loan will be utilized to secure a liquor license, purchase initial inventories and equipment, marketing, and minor renovations to move locations and expand her current business.

Richard Thayer

Funding Amount – $35,000
Jobs Created/Saved – 2

For your CANvenience will be the permanent location of a bottle and can redemption center to be established by Richard Thayer.   Thayer was unable to secure traditional financing to start the business due to a recent loss of employment and recent family medical issues.

For your CANvenience is going to make the process of returning containers the best and easiest. Offering a pick-up service to large non-profit and corporate accounts is a new way of fundraising for the businesses. Deposits can also be a great way to raise money for charitable organizations. For your CANvenience’s services provide a quick and convenient source for donations



Thanks to the SEED program, I am now in the space of my dreams and am ready to launch a Vintage & Antiques business that I have cultivated for the past 15 years.  SEED classes were well worth it despite the Sunday dates as they prepared me more fully regarding how to actually run a small business and what to expect.  SEFCU, the Small Business Administration of Albany, SUNY Albany Schools of Business and Social Welfare should be commended for being friendly, accommodating and helpful at every step. This program has given me the chance of a lifetime. Thanks again for everything!

Pat Greenwood
Paticia’s Room

The SEED program has been a game changer for me. I have struggled to put together a business plan in the past, but the SEED advisors helped me step by step, even with the difficult task of financial projections. With SEFCU’s funding from the SEED program, I will be able to take my start up business to the next level. Before long I will be exporting New York-made Larry’s Southwestern Sauces to Texas and California!

Larry Sombke
Larry’s Southwestern Sauces

My experience with seed program was a great one, the program allowed me to gain business knowledge that I was not aware of. The program inspired me to be even more on fire, over all I feel truly blessed that I was able to come in contact with the people who are involved in the SEED Program. The SEED Program has given me the opportunity to grow, improve, and run business like I have always dreamed of.

Kerri-Ann Wilson
Heaven on Earth Beauty Salon

I would like to thank you for the strategic planning initiatives that you’ve helped outline for my business’s potential and future growth. I was impressed in how efficient the advisors were and how much we were able to benefit from the class room analytical sessions. The business insight displayed by the advisors was refreshing and inspiring. It was exciting to be guided down new directions never realized before.  SEED was able to grasp our needs and help us identify our market space, sales challenges, and resource obstacles giving us an opportunity to build a strong foundation to grow on.

Louis A Joseph Jr.
Eco-logical Building Performance Inc.


Finalist Presentation

UEDA Awards of Excellence Finalists presented at the Annual Summit in Chattanooga on October 22, 2012. Summit attendees then voted for the best initiative in each category.

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