Ben, we almost never knew you

I met Ben in a meeting last week in DC. We were asked to speak on behalf of the American Sustainable Business Council in a conference room full of foundation representatives. Ben went first and shared a little about his past.

He told of meeting his best friend in 7th grade. Ben knew it was meant to be when his similarly chubby buddy and he found themselves lagging behind their fellow classmates running around a track.

“If you don’t run the mile in 10 minutes you’ll have to run it again,” yelled the phys ed teacher. “If we can’t run it in 10 minutes the first time, we’re not going to able to do it the second time,” yelled back Ben’s friend.

The two stayed close through the years but professional aspirations seemed to take them in separate ways. Ben wanted to be an artist and make pottery while his friend had his dreams set on being a doctor. But fate had other plans. No one would buy Ben’s pottery and his friend couldn’t get into medical school.

So the two best friends went a different direction together this time and decided to open a business. They agreed to open a restaurant in their college town and those with experience told them to keep it simple.

Ben and his friend studied some SBA brochures for advice and settled on bringing a food trend at major universities to their Vermont town. One small homemade ice cream shop is all they wanted.

Today Ben and Jerry’s is anything but a one-store shop and Ben Cohen is widely known for infusing his social consciousness into his business practices. Ben and Jerry’s is the poster child for why we need to put more financial support into microenterprises—the farm team for all the small, medium and big businesses we want to grow our economy.

This Wednesday we’re bringing that message to the State House. Check out the information below and join us.

What: Microenterprise Development Day at the Capital
When: Wednesday, May 25th, 2011
      9:45AM Press Conference, First Floor Lobby of State House
      12:30PM – 2PM Forum (lunch provided), 321 Blatt Building
Who: The South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce, Association for Enterprise Opportunity and S.C. Microenterprise Development Organizations

-Representative Kenneth Hodges
-Connie Evans, Executive Director of the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO), The AEO is a national membership organization and voice of microenterprise development in the United States.
-Frank Knapp, President & CEO, The South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce
-Michelle Abraham, State Director, SC Small Business Development Centers
-Doug Dunkelberg, United States Department of Agriculture, Rural Development
-D’J Moore, President & COO, Lowcountry Small Business Hub
-Dave Mueller, Executive Director and COO, Appalachian Development Corporation (ADC)

87% of South Carolina businesses have fewer than 5 employees and are classified as microenterprises. If just one in three of microbusinesses across the country hired one new employee, the nation would be at full employment. Hear what South Carolina is doing to help develop and grow microenterprises and what more is needed to create a sustainable and vibrant state economy!

For more information call (803) 252-5733.

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