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Etsy Foundation offers business education to Hudson Valley entrepreneurs

by Antonia Shoumatoff
Sat Apr 16th, 2016

Etsy Foundation Mentors

etsy.org,  a nonprofit endowed by the online marketing platform Etsy Inc, is partnering with Glynwood, Hawthorne Valley Farm and Omega and others to provide business education for up to 25 local businesses.  They are offering a six-month free training program. Etsy.com is a marketplace website that has been successful and profitable. Etsy has created a foundation to leverage its own success by educating entrepreneurs in the processes of building a successful business. 

On April 13 etsy.org outlined Good Work Institute: Hudson Valley at the Millerton Library Annex.  Regional partners of the the program are Millerton’s Watershed Center, the Mid-Hudson Heritage Center, Hudson River Housing and Rethink Local, among others. Attendees included young owners of agricultural enterprises and local business owners as well as local leaders. 

Erica Dorn, the Managing Director of the etsy.org, said that agricultural businesses and place-based businesses are very much part of the process of building a collective vision for eco-systems that revolve around living local economies.  She cited Judy Wicks who speaks about how she built an environmentally sustainable and locally-based economy in Philadelphia.  She said that one of the original employees and current Director of Philosophy at Patagonia as well as the founder of Seventh Generation are examples of some of the guides of etsy.org’s business education program in the Hudson Valley.

etsy.org has already been working with place-based businesses in the Hudson Valley such as Hawthorne Valley Farms and Omega. 

Dorn described some of the work they did in 12 full-day sessions twice amonth for 6 months at various locations including Judson Memorial Church in New York City.  It started with building a collective vision, doing reflective work, establishing relationship to local living systems and to each other. Naming the skills that can build a group and support a business--- understanding social capital;  designing and re-designing your business model.  

“We decided to host this program across the mid-Hudson region so we could unearth the natural history of the region.  Bring back the native stories of the region.  Visit several of the businesses to offer the wisdom from each businesses,” said Dorn.

“Our New York program has developed into a strong and very inclusive community we would like to expand it here in this region.   Intergenerational wisdom has been very powerful.  We have a commitment to a compassionate economy and place-based centered enterprises. We design our programs when we see who emerges from the application process. We are still a new organization.  We are open to entrepreneurs who are new but committed to the region”.

There is no tuition for the program.  It runs from June 15—December 16th with two hours a week of reading and journaling and twelve full days of programs.  

“Our program provides an different understanding of growth and scale for local, growing businesses, one of deep scale.  Etsy is a great platform for people who want to develop businesses without walls. We are a tiny foundation starting out and we are excited to be able to offer this here.” 

Business owners need to fill out the application by May 2nd to be accepted.  Etsy is  looking for businesses that have a place in the Hudson Valley.  Owners will go through interview process and then they will announce between 20-25 entrepreneurs.  Hawthorne Valley, Glynnwood and Catskill Center and Omega will host some of the sessions.  This program is offerred ‘as a gift’ and the application can be filled out online