Association for Enterprise Opportunity Opens Entry for 2013 Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards Program

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National Program Recognizes Entrepreneurs, Microbusiness Development Organizations

The Citi Foundation is pleased to continue collaborating with AEO to launch the Second Annual Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards program,” said Pamela Flaherty, CEO and President of the Citi Foundation.

Today the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) announced that the 2013 Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards (CMA) is open for entries. This program is part of the Citi Foundation’s global microentrepreneurship awards program across 35 countries, which raises awareness of the importance of microentrepreneurship and microfinance in supporting the economic empowerment of individuals.

At its core, the CMA awards platform in the U.S. spotlights Main Street microbusinesses that have proven they have the ability to create jobs and have a positive impact on the lives of their owners and their communities. The program also recognizes microbusiness development organizations (MDOs) who have developed innovative approaches to provide enhanced business-support services to their clients.

“The Citi Foundation is pleased to continue collaborating with AEO to launch the Second Annual Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards program,” said Pamela Flaherty, CEO and President of the Citi Foundation. “Small businesses create more jobs than any other segment of the economy. The CMA program enables us to highlight the achievements of individuals and organizations whose work is critical to advancing economic growth through job creation.”

The U.S. CMA program, formerly known as the Power of One Awards, was established in 2012 and is administered by AEO.

“AEO is honored to again present the CMA program. We are privileged to be part of a program that honors America’s Main Street microbusinesses. These enterprises add immeasurable value to their local communities by stimulating their local economies and creating jobs; and every job added is another win against unemployment,” says Connie Evans, president and CEO of AEO. “We know that if one in three Main Street microbusinesses hired one additional employee the country would reach full employment. Clearly, these businesses are powerful job-creation agents, so it’s critical to equip them for success so that they can grow and hire.”

Finalists will attend the CMA Luncheon during AEO’s National Conference, Wednesday, May 8, in St. Louis, Mo.

Before the luncheon begins, Daymond John, founder and CEO of FUBU, will join Evans for a live interview to share his inspiring story with awards’ finalists and conference attendees. John, who also is a star of ABC’s “Shark Tank,” built FUBU into an iconic lifestyle brand. He also is a best-selling author and much sought after branding expert. John will share his experiences as a microbusiness owner, and how he expanded his business into a global enterprise.

Of America’s small business enterprises, 90 percent are microbusinesses, those with five or fewer employees. Jasmine Ward is one of the 90 percent. She and her husband, Samuel, were 2012 winners in the Entrepreneur category, which carried a $15,000 prize.

Their business, Ward Computer Services provides IT consulting and support to businesses, organizations, churches, families and individuals and is based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

“The experience will stay in our hearts and minds for years to come and was a powerful motivation to continue to pursue our entrepreneurial dream so that our business can continue to support our local economy and motivate others within our community to follow their passion for business ownership,” Jasmine Ward says.

Ward says the prize allowed her and Samuel to revamp their company’s logo and brand image, implement a new all-inclusive sales and marketing solution, and helped build technology infrastructure to streamline and enhance IT service delivery to customers. The enhancements would not have been possible otherwise, according to Jasmine Ward.

All told, Ward says, they have seen a 42.5 percent increase in their customer base over the last eight months. She says in February, the company will launch two new service products, an expansion made possible by the award. The couple also projects an increase in their annual gross revenues by 60 percent.

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