This week I am exploring another project underneath of the Mill Community Ministries. “Nasha Lending” is run and operated by Taylor Beard. She operates at Textile Hall Co-Work center in the heart of The Village of West Greenville.
Taylor was kind enough to sit down with me and tell the tale of Nasha Lending’s journey.
Nasha started as a ministry from Grace Church in 2009 in the midst of the recession. They started giving out small micro loans to entrepreneurs, never much more than $4000.
“We found out very quickly that the entrepreneurs we met were facing challenges besides money,” Taylor explained. “They often lacked the basic knowledge and expertise of how to grow a business. The accounting and marketing.”
Fortunately, the company had access to a network of people who were very skilled in what they were doing. In 2014, Nasha joined Mill Community Ministries. They began focusing on business and entrepreneur development. Loans took a backseat and are now handled by Community Works Carolina
Out of this model shift, the Business Entrepreneur Academy was born. This is a 10 week class for aspiring entrepreneurs.
“Many of our students are experts in their products,” Taylor said, “but sales and development aren’t their strong-suits. During those 10 weeks, we aim to become an incubator for local entrepreneurs and businesses. Guest speakers and experts will often join us. We establish relationships with them by having dinner before each class. This allows everyone to get to know one another and to share successes and failures. It can be lonely being an entrepreneur, and we want them to know that they aren’t alone.”
Nasha’s academy will often have 8 to 10 people per class, and they have 2 to 3 classes a year.
Parallel to the academy, they hold intensive 3 week classes on subjects like marketing or accounting. Finally, they offer one time classes from time to time.
Although Nasha operates in the Village, their students come from all over the greater Greenville area. They have been able to help grow some incredible entrepreneurs.
Chancy, the creator of Banana Manna, was their first entrepreneur, and has been their poster-child to this day! Julie created Benji Bars which you can find in many places. One of those being The Village Grind! Nasha’s goal is to empower entrepreneurs to be providers, creators, and producers in their own communities. This year, according to Taylor, they hope to have at least 30 people go through their business academy.
Taylor elaborated, “Our goal isn’t to launch the next Facebook out of Greenville. The truth is, our education system doesn’t equip people for the real world. We are equipping people with the tools to perform at whatever capacity they want. Sometimes our students realize entrepreneurship isn’t for them…some of them just want a side hustle, some just want to work for themselves full-time.”
“The Village is an entrepreneurial community, we want our entrepreneurs to be connected with the people of the Village. We want to make sure the village stays a place that is welcome for people that have been here for decades, but also for the new people who are pouring in. We want to be place where everyone is welcome and where everyone wants to be.”
Nasha is always looking for entrepreneurs who could benefit from their academy. They may technically be a business development organization, but in reality they are a community that is ever-welcoming and growing.
Taylor started out as an intern, almost from Nasha's inception. She loved helping the community around her, so she stuck with it. She quickly developed a passion for entrepreneurship, and saw it's potential for changing lives. Now, she is running the show.
“The opportunity to be surrounded by lots of talented people and entrepreneurs who are really inspiring and want to give back is incredibly inspiring,” Taylor said.