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Legal Center for Low-Income Entrepreneurs

Inspiring ideas and abundant creativity motivate some people to start their own business.  For many entrepreneurs, the concept is easy but the logistics can be hard.  Even small businesses and self-employed business owners have to think about taxes, work space, non-profit or for-profit status, filing with the Secretary of State and more.

Legal Aid's Center for Low-Income Entrepreneurs began in November 2019.  The launch was supported by the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland's Innovation Mission and the Thomas White Foundation.  The Center is designed to provide specialized support for Northeast Ohio’s underrepresented, underserved, and low-income entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurship provides a powerful pathway out of poverty. Unfortunately, for those with low income, starting a business poses many challenges. Low-income entrepreneurs often lack the financial resources and social capital needed to succeed, among other things.

Legal Aid’s program accepts client referrals from partner organizations. Clients will be undergo two kinds of “legal check-ups.” The first check-up will screen the client’s business for important preliminary legal matters and to identify outstanding legal issues. The second check-up will screen for personal legal problems that can interfere with one’s ability to successfully develop and manage a business. Additionally, Legal Aid will develop educational materials and offer regular presentations on relevant legal topics.

No one can be successful while facing legal barriers to housing, food, shelter, and safety – and every new business has legal needs that must be addressed. Legal Aid’s Center for Low-Income Entrepreneurs will help driven, low-income individuals who desire to become business owners achieve success. With the legal assistance they need, local entrepreneurs will be supported in their quest to address unmet needs in their neighborhoods and will experience fewer legal stumbling blocks in the future when their business is firmly established.

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