Business & Entrepreneurship
Business & Entrepreneurship
Build a solid foundation for success
The inclusive entrepreneurship programs at Mercy Connections provide education and access for people traditionally excluded from the business world. Whether you are pursuing a side project, self-employment, or a scalable small business, we are here to help!
Our programs help you plan, launch, and sustain small businesses in Vermont. For over thirty years, the Women’s Small Business Program (WSBP) has provided women+ with a supportive environment to discuss the realities of work and life, build business knowledge, and explore and create opportunities.
Start Up is our signature business program. This supportive, inclusive 15-week course is a deep dive into business planning. Start Up is for you if you:
Have a solid business idea that you'd like to pursue
Are serious about learning and taking action
Can make the time commitment to fit this into your busy life
Welcome active participation in a small-group environment
Are ready to make positive change and take control of your future
Identify as a woman, female, non-binary, or gender-nonconforming
The Women’s Small Business Program (WSBP) has provided business education to entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs since 1989. This semester-long course helps women gain knowledge and build skills critical to having a successful business. Using the framework of writing a business plan, students learn the language of business and graduate armed with the knowledge they need to launch or expand their businesses.
The curriculum covers the fundamentals of three content areas in depth: Marketing, Finance, and Business Operations, and is taught by a team of instructors who are also business owners. You’ll graduate knowing how to start and operate a successful business, and you’ll have completed a comprehensive, realistic business plan that you can use to guide you and to take to a lender for funding. This course is also designed for women+ who are already in business and want to reinvent their business or take it to the next level.
Class size is intentionally small, so you’ll get lots of personal attention and form lasting bonds with your classmates. This small-group experience has been referred to as “life-changing” by many of our previous graduates.
The next 15-week session begins August 22nd!
We are a VSAC-approved provider so this program qualifies for VSAC's Advancement Grant Program.
How to get started
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, and we are currently enrolling students for the next cohort. We have a 30-year history, and many of your favorite local businesses were started by women who graduated from Start Up. To learn more, contact Claire Wheeler or schedule an introductory call.
A three-part course for adult learners, designed to provide an introduction to self-employment. We assist aspiring entrepreneurs with creating a vision and a plan for a path forward that includes business ownership.
Registration for fall session begins soon!
In this multi-week, supported, vendor-training program, artists, crafters, and other makers learn the basics of micro-business, including:
- Inventory management
- Sales techniques
- Customer service
- Effective e-commerce tools for selling products
At the end of the course, students have the opportunity to participate in an online sales event supported by Mercy Connections, to showcase their work and put their newly-developed skills to use.
Mercy Marketplace is made possible through support from the Community Economic Development Office (CEDO) of Burlington, VT, and the People’s United Community Foundation.
Sometimes you really need to talk with an advisor who can support you and help point you in the right direction. We provide one-on-one business coaching for all aspiring, new, and established business owners who need specialized support.
Business coaching sessions can be held in-person, over the phone, or via video conferencing.
In this introductory series, participants can drop in to one or all virtual lunchtime sessions to learn about the basics of business ownership. The format will include a short presentation, worktime to complete a relevant activity, and time for connection and Q&A. Register to drop in for just one session or more, or all! Presentation topics and more information here.
Runs July 8 - August 5, 2022
To learn more, contact Claire Wheeler, Director of Inclusive Entrepreneurship.
“This course came at a point in my life that challenged me to practice focusing, organizing my thoughts, and sharing what is deep down in my heart. It also gave me the space to be vulnerable and put my dreams out into the world.’
— Andrea DiMedio
Andrea DiMedio Photography