Small Business Development
We can help you manage your business with:
- Management and operations
- Marketing plans
- Products and service
- Social Media
- Registering your business with the state and federally
- Business Identity
- Formalizing business entity
Whether you are starting a small business or looking to grow a one on one coaching session will serve your purpose.
This program is an investment in the growth of nonprofit organizations in the Greater Des Moines area. In this Boot Camp, nonprofits learn from experts on topics ranging from marketing, grant writing, tax and financial planning, alternative funding streams, building and managing a board, and recruiting volunteers. Dates and times to be determined.
A Star Struck Des Moines
Written by: Lauren Low
After defying African social norms to start a modelling agency, Jeneba brought her dream to Iowa with the EKDC’s Help
Jeneba Wanjah does not accept the limits society puts on women – or anyone else. She launched a modelling agency, Future Star Africa, that works to combat these restrictions.
“I want to have a company or an agency where everybody is accepted. If you’re tall, you’re short, you’re white, you’re black, whatever – just come as you are. It doesn’t matter; we’ll work with you,” Jeneba said.
Jeneba originally started her business in her home country - Sierra Leone. She faced obstacles regarding the stigma around modelling.
“Modelling is not very respected over there and parents don’t want their kids to model because of certain cultural norms or rules that we have,” Jeneba said.
However, she was able to find enough models to start her business and see its success bloom. Jeneba began to think she could open an agency in Iowa, as well.
“I knew that America’s different, so I started to reach out for some support, which then I ended up contacting the Evelyn K Davis Center (EKDC). Through that, I was able to learn some things and made some changes,” Jeneba said.
She met with Curtis Baugh, a business consultant, and evaluated her company. They made adjustments such as adding a local branch so that people would not feel excluded by the name Future Star Africa.
Jeneba’s passion for inclusion stems from a past of rejection. Jeneba grew up in foster care where she began entering pageants.
“I used to face a lot of discrimination. I'd apply, [wouldn’t] get accepted, and some would tell me I’m not tall enough, stuff like that,” Jeneba said.
She won Miss Africa Iowa and competed for Miss Africa USA in Washington D.C. Pageants quickly became one of Jeneba’s greatest passions.
“I wanted to do more with pageantry because I loved what pageantry was about. It gave me a voice to speak up for my truth and some things that I’ve never shared with people through pageantry I was able to open up, so I really liked it,” Jeneba said.
Things took a change for the worse, however, when Jeneba had a child. Suddenly agencies stopped taking her and even blocked her from contacting them.
“When I applied for pageants, they told me I’m a mom [and] I can’t do pageants because I’m a mother,” Jeneba said. “For a pageant to say they are developing women, that was wrong of them to [block me]; that really messed with my mental health.”
This was a pivotal moment for Jeneba. She decided to start a change in the industry, where life circumstances and physical appearance did not define your worth as a model.
“I said to myself: ‘having a child does not limit my potential and I won’t let anybody break me down by telling me that I can’t do something because I have a child or because I'm not tall enough,” Jeneba said.
The Evelyn K Davis Center gave Jeneba contacts to reach out to and resources to help her business flourish in Iowa. Jeneba is currently working out of Mainframe Studios in Des Moines. On April 29th, she will be having a grand opening for her agency, which includes sponsors and participants from the community.
“[My] advice for other people looking to start their own business is look for what’s not being accepted and make something out of it. People are going through a lot right now and it would be good to focus on starting businesses that society has put limitations towards so that everybody can feel loved and wanted,” Jeneba said.
Jeneba’s dedication to inclusion is a tremendous addition to the Des Moines community, and the EKDC is proud to have helped her achieve this.
"Building" Their Business from the Ground Up
The Evelyn K Davis Center Helped these Entrepreneurs Lay the Foundation for their New Business
Written by: Lauren Low
Boxx Scaffolding has been a successful small business for over two years, thanks to the assistance of the Evelyn K. Davis Center (EKDC). Two of the founders, Grant Maulsby and Stanley Woolery, spoke on the process of starting their business, following a 6-week course offered by the EKDC.
“There’s so much to running a business that you don’t think about sometimes, and it’s nice to have a resource that will be like, ‘Did you think about this?’,” Maulsby said.
Maulsby attended the 6-week course – the Master’s Business Bootcamp - through the EKDC with Curtis Baugh - a business consultant. Maulsby’s connection with Baugh was what drove him to seek the EKDC’s services. He said that the staff at the EKDC seemed genuinely interested in the progress that the small business was making.
“I’ve taken other classes where, once you’re done with the class, you never hear from them again. So, it’s been refreshing to have someone actually show that they’re curious on how we’re doing, and they care about us,” Maulsby said.
The inspiration for Boxx Scaffolding began in 2019. Woolery and Maulsby had been friends for over 30 years yet worked in different industries. Woolery, along with two other partners, had worked in scaffolding for several years. Maulsby owned a bar and restaurant in Clear Lake, IA. In 2019, the four men merged their experience to begin their next chapter with Boxx Scaffolding.
Woolery and Maulsby would recommend the EKDC to anyone looking to start a business, as well as long-time business owners.
“The Bootcamp was great. I learned about the business model canvas which I never even heard of. Then when I took that class they showed us and it’s so much easier,” Maulsby said. “I think it [EKDC] is valuable to anyone, even if you’ve been in business - which I have. I have learned a lot, because things changed from 20 years ago when I started a business.”
The EKDC has further assisted this small business in tasks such as introducing the men to potential customers, setting up meetings with clients, and offering licensing services and training for the staff members looking to get their Commercial Driver’s Licenses.
“We didn’t know [information on small businesses] until we got involved with Evelyn K Davis Center, so just the information they’ve provided us has been very valuable,” Maulsby said.
Boxx Scaffolding is located in Hiawatha, IA. Woolery and Maulsby attribute the continued success of the company to the valuable lessons gifted to them from the Evelyn K Davis Center and the resilience of their team. Further information on their services can be found at boxxscaffolding.com as well as reached through the company email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recipe for Small Business Success
Tullpa Restaurant in Des Moines is Savoring their Grand Opening Thanks to Help Freshly Served from the Evelyn K Davis Center
Written by: Lauren Low
Des Moines residents can feast on authentic Peruvian, Ecuadorian, and Colombian food at Tullpa Restaurant on Merle Hay Road. Founder Gloria Henriquez turned up the heat and launched Tullpa in early January 2023.
“It’s a fusion cuisine. We are trying to fuse a little from here, a little from there,” Gloria said. “Everyday the sales are going little by little bit up, so people are starting to notice our restaurant, our sign, our social medias.”
Gloria relocated to Iowa from New York four years ago. As the previous general manager for a fast-food company, Gloria had a lot of experience in the restaurant industry. It wasn’t until her move to Iowa, however, that producing a restaurant herself seemed achievable.
“I thought it [her dream] was something probably too big. It’s a big decision, you know; you have to prepare yourself with a lot of stuff. But then when I came here, I started to work with different restaurants, and I was like, ‘Maybe I will consider to open my own restaurant’,” Gloria said.
Gloria turned to the Evelyn K Davis Center (EKDC) to stir up her dream. She knew the nonprofit business would provide the right ingredients to achieve this feat.
“I was looking for coaching and support at that moment and they really did a lot for me. They worked with me; they introduced me with somebody who can do one-on-one with me,” Gloria said.
Gloria was partnered with a business coach who walked her through the journey, including conducting research and explaining the business formation process. In addition, Gloria took advantage of additional classes being offered at the EKDC, like computer skills for small businesses. “I never had a center like that in New York - where you can go and interact with somebody who can coach you and guide you in a different aspect, even though you are doing business or preparing yourself for something else. And I think that’s a huge thing – to have that type of community support in Des Moines,” Gloria said.
Gloria reached out to the EKDC because of its support for minorities. Although her original intent was to gain the knowledge to start a business, Gloria walked away with credit help, financial assistance, and an increased network.
“I always feel like it’s a community center working for us - for the small minorities or for whoever needs help. It’s like you go there, and they have a lot of different programs from small business solutions to even if you need help to prepare yourself with interviews,” Gloria said. Like the EKDC, Tullpa exists to serve the citizens of Des Moines. Gloria emphasizes that her restaurant is a welcoming place for all ages and ethnicities.
“The Latino population in Iowa is growing, but also at the same time, I see the acceptance from all the neighborhood and the community of the Latino food,” Gloria said. ““My vision is to see my restaurant go to the next level. You know, be well known in the area where people can come and have a meal, have a good time. We want to make sure we keep that family environment.”
Gloria says her favorite Tullpa dishes include any with fish – particularly the Mojara Frita. Tullpa even hired a chef who moved to the United States 2 months ago, full of fresh recipes and authentic taste.
Currently, there are around 12 staff members in Tullpa’s kitchen, but Tullpa is looking to expand this number as sales continue to increase. The EKDC is proud to have helped serve Gloria success.
“I’ve been very grateful with what the Evelyn K Davis Center did for me, and I always feel like they do have a lot of resources and they offer you a lot of support. And that, for a small business owner, it means a lot,” Gloria said.
This article was also featured in Hola America Newspaper : Read Here
Care from Head to Toe
Written by: Lauren Low
The Joy of Curls is Taking Care of Heads and Hearts
As It Caters to Foster Families’ Needs
Joy Hankins combined her passion for hair care and family history of foster care to create a business for self care. The Joy of Curls is a mix of products and services that educate and equip foster families.
While working on her master’s program in Des Moines, Joy realized her true passion was assisting in the care of foster children.
Once Joy put her mind to starting a business, she needed a boost to get the ball rolling. In 2021, she enrolled in the Business Bootcamp at the Evelyn K Davis Center (EKDC).
“I did not know anything about starting a business when I started [mine] - I just kind of jumped in. I learned that I needed to identify my distinct customer profiles and decide who specifically I was selling to, how to market to them, and how to let them find me,” Joy said. “I learned so much. I could go on and on.”
Working with the Small Business Solutions program at the EKDC allowed Joy to be prepared for further business courses through Drake University and working with Goldman-Sachs in New York. At the EKDC, Joy developed her elevator pitch and became comfortable with the Business Model Canvas.
“The first thing that we did when I got to Goldman-Sachs in New York was work on the Business Model Canvas, and I brought mine that I worked on at Evelyn K Davis Center. So a lot of business owners were learning it for the first time, and I had the benefit of having already gone through it, so that was great,” Joy said.
Today, Joy’s products are made for multiple uses, so the oils and butters can be applied from head to toe. Her merchandise consists of hair and skin-care products that are plant-based.
Joy’s skills in business were prompted by fond memories with her family members growing up.
“I can remember my aunt Linda used to braid my hair and put beads on the end of it and I just thought that was ‘it’ in kindergarten,” Joy said.
Familial memories sparked Joy’s heart for foster families as well. Her maternal grandmother grew up in foster care before becoming a foster mother herself, and Joy’s paternal grandmother was raised by other family members in what is called “kinship care”.
In addition to actual products, The Joy of Curls provides a 4-credit class through the department of human services for foster parents to gain education about caring for curly hair.
“[In] this class, I talk about hair care and hair styling, but I also talk a lot about black culture and a lot about parents making sure their home is welcoming to a child of color,” Joy said.
Joy also uses a portion of proceeds from her kids' line to donate to the foster families she works with.
Looking ahead, Joy’s vision is for her products to be featured in retail stores like Target. She is also hoping to use her bi-lingual skills to translate her class for multiple cultures.
“Bi-cultural or transracial adoption is all over the world, so I’d like for this class to be available for everyone,” Joy said.
The Joy of Curls is continuing to expand alongside the opportunities for outreach that Joy experiences. She attributes the place she is in today to the assistance from the EKDC.
“If you’re a business owner that’s on the fence about trying the Business Bootcamp, definitely attend a meeting about it, talk to other people who have done it, [because] I think it will be life changing for your business, for your brand, and you should definitely go for it,” Joy said.
The EKDC enjoyed taking Joy’s vision from an idea to reality.
The Chance She Kneaded
Written by: Lauren Low
Read how the Evelyn K Davis Center extended an opportunity to Nadia – a woman facing countless rejections in the United States
Nadia Ahissou has lived in three continents throughout her life – Africa, Europe, and North America. Her diverse background, coupled with her accounting degree from Benin, should have been an asset for finding work, but it proved to be a hindrance.
“When I moved here it was not easy for me to find a job in accounting because when I showed my degree [employers] were like, ‘Oh no, you need a degree in English’,” Nadia said.
The breakthrough Nadia needed came in the form of Ahmed Agyeman – Director of the Evelyn K Davis Center. Nadia was taking classes at DMACC when she first met Ahmed in 2016. She showed Ahmed her resume and explained her experience, and he recommended she take courses at DMACC to test her knowledge.
Nadia passed her classes with flying colors and continued her education at DMACC, eventually getting her Accounting Degree again – this time from the US. In 2020, COVID-19 began, throwing a wrench in Nadia’s life. She had learned to bake when she lived in France and found that many people wanted her products while in isolation.
“Everybody was starting to like what I was doing,” Nadia said.
She began to feel torn between a future of baking or accounting. Nadia met with Curtis Baugh, the Business Consultant at the Evelyn K Davis Center (EKDC). The advice she received helped her baking pastime become a career.
“We’re [the EKDC staff is] going to help you start a business, you’re going to take the class, and all this stuff – and I did. I did everything and Nadia La Baker came to life in 2021,” Nadia said.
In addition to her bakery, Nadia applied for a position at the Evelyn K Davis Center and was hired part-time as a Small Business Consultant. Her situation went from being rejected for her diverse background to pursuing both of her passions – accounting and baking – at once.
Nadia would recommend the EKDC to anyone wanting to start their business from scratch.
“They [the EKDC] know exactly what to do, who to talk to, and when to do it. So anyone who wants their business out, or even if they don’t have the business yet – they have the idea, they can come in,” Nadia said.
Nadia learned countless tips on how to start a small business. The EKDC guided her through the process and showed her each step.
“They work on how to start your business, how to open an account on the business, [and] how to work with the IRS. If you take those classes, it will be easy for you to grow your business,” Nadia said.
Nadia La Baker does not currently have a location. Nadia bakes from home to fill orders and sees the most success at her stand at the Des Moines Farmer’s Market. She would like to open at an actual location if she can find a building within her price range. Until then, she is continuing to take classes at the EKDC while working part-time.
The EKDC gave Nadia the chance she needed, paving the way for the US to feel like home to her.
An Instrument of Charity
Written by: Lauren Low
Valerie’s Musical Dreams Have Come True to the Tune of Her Flute Business
It’s never too late to find harmony with your aspirations. Valerie Wedgeworth is a retired Des Moines accountant with over 50 years of experience playing the flute. For a long time, she harbored a dream of starting a flute business.
“I met with Curtis Baugh (a small business consultant) and the first time I met him I felt so empowered afterwards - ‘Wow, this could really happen’ kind-of-thing,” Valerie said.
She had been playing the flute on Sunday’s and decided it was time to take her talents to the next level by monetizing. Valerie attended business classes at the Evelyn K Davis Center (EKDC) as well as began meeting with Kris Markham at the EKDC for financial coaching.
“The folks at Evelyn [K] Davis are so supportive and encouraging,” Valerie said. “I met with Curtis twice. The second time he was helping me with a business plan.”
Valerie has also received assistance with social media for her website.
Valerie’s Flute Entertainment is a business comprised of sales and programs. Valerie has mentored people in her trade, taught a student, and created musical arrangements. Additionally, she plays at retirement centers and a rehab center for disabled children.
“It’s amazing to see their eyes light up,” Valerie said.
Valerie describes the EKDC programs as “supportive” and “empowering”. Charity has struck a chord with Valerie, and she continues to use the knowledge the EKDC gave her to serenade Des Moines.
“It’s something that I've always wanted to do and I’m finally doing it,” Valerie said.
Even after retirement from 30 years working for the state of Iowa, Valerie continues to march to the beat of her own drum and pursue her passions as a flutist. The EKDC enjoys orchestrating assistance to Valerie as she conducts the next steps in her vision.
A Wish Granted
Written by: Lauren Low
The EKDC helped Cheries Transform her Talent into a Trade
Do you have a special talent, but are not sure how it could be used? This is how Cheries Dupee felt when she found the Evelyn K Davis Center.
Cheries had worked many years managing departments, starting small businesses, opening a retail shop, and even writing a book. Yet human services was the area that had always piqued her interest.
“I was told I need to talk to younger people – younger women. So I started to do that,” Cheries said. At this point, she was in a program through DMACC that gave her a mentor. “Since this mentor saw that I could write, she said ‘you need to look at becoming a grant writer.’”
Shortly after, Cheries began working with the Evelyn K Davis Center (EKDC).
“In the beginning, I wanted to help widows. That was who I was focused on when I went through Curtis’ program with the Canvas,” Cheries said.
The Canvas program is an accelerator course offered at the EKDC to assist with setting up a small business. Curtis, a small business consultant, helps clients create their Business Model Canvas to map out channels, resources, and other necessary features of launching a company.
“Grant-writing [was] just put on the backburner; I didn’t look at it as a business at that time. Then Curtis suggested I go through the [Business] Accelerator Program at Drake. So I did that, and at the end of that program we had a pitch competition, and I got 3rd place in the pitch and got $500,” Cheries said.
Throughout 2021 and 2022, Cheries continued winning competitions for her grant writing. In June 2022, she attended more training at the EKDC.
“[My relationship with the EKDC] started out with me going through some training, and then it ended up me partnering and helping other people with grants,” Cheries said.
Cheries now helps clients at the EKDC with her talent. She recalled the eye-opening quote that sparked her new career.
“[Curtis] has been so instrumental for me. He told me, ‘Obviously, people want to hear what you have to say’ and he said that I should learn how to monetize,” Cheries said.
The realization that her skills could be transformed into a means of income was a life-changing experience for Cheries.
“Because of Curtis, I learned how to [monetize my work]. So now I put a price tag on everything,” Cheries said.
Because of the EKDC’s help to Cheries, she is now assisting countless people in Des Moines, while simultaneously pursuing her master’s at Grandview.
If It Matters to You, It Matters to the EKDC
Written by: Lauren Low
Shantoria wanted to take care of the children of Des Moines, so the EKDC took care of her
Shantoria Green and her mom run a daycare that is unlike any other. Heavenly Creations goes beyond simply watching the children all day, to creating a wholesome environment for the kids that attend.
“What I did was implement a learning program for our children. They have curriculum, a lunch menu [and] a newsletter,” Shantoria said. “It’s way more like a preschool than your traditional in-home childcare. It’s geared toward teaching, routine, and a structured environment that our children need to have.”
Over the years, Heavenly Creations has helped over 300 children. However, running an in-home business that generates this level of success requires external help. This is where Shantoria turned to the Evelyn K Davis Center (EKDC).
“I needed to perfect my business plan,” Shantoria said. “I went through the process and got a lot of different contacts.”
Shantoria attended the EKDC’s Masters Business Bootcamp twice to soak in as much education as possible. She met with Curtis Baugh, a small business consultant, and described her greatest obstacle – the journey to get an SBA (Small Business Administration) loan. That was when Curtis gave her shockingly great news.
““He [said], ‘The director of the SBA comes here once a week; you can meet her on Thursday’,” Shantoria said.
A few days later, Shantoria spoke with the director face-to-face, who went to the president of the bank.
“It just really sped up the process for us and now we’re looking to close here in the next 30 days,” Shantoria said.
Curtis also referred Shantoria to a financial company who gave her projections for her business for the next 3 years. Shantoria found that the bank responded more to her when she had professional help with her work.
“A lot of people have a business, and the financials aren’t where they need to be. So, I would definitely refer [the EKDC] to anybody that is in business [or] is thinking about business,” Shantoria said.
Shantoria has encouraged her husband to visit the EKDC to boost his car business, as well as her daughter who aspires to open a clothing boutique.
“Give [the EKDC] a try; you don’t have anything to lose. The services are free; the people there genuinely do care about you and your business and the needs of the community,” Shantoria said.
Heavenly Creations was founded by Shantoria’s mother, before being joined by Shantoria in 2015. Shantoria began implementing her ideas into the business and was made a partner in 2016. Shantoria wanted to work in the daycare so that she could spend more time with her son, and trust that he was being cared for.
“It’s hard to find a good daycare that is a quality center, where they’re going to teach your kid, feed them healthy meals, and really show them love,” Shantoria said.
The EKDC was the bridge that connected Shantoria’s Daycare Dreams and the means to achieve them.
Write Your Own Story
Written by: Lauren Low
From Mother to Author to Businesswoman; Neesha Duncan continues to check off her goals with the help of the Evelyn K Davis Center
There are points at every stage in life where you feel stuck. It seems like you should have it all figured out: finances, dream job, mental health. Yet how often is this true?
For Neesha Duncan, life was not all roses. There were many unknowns as she walked through the doors of the Evelyn K Davis Center (EKDC).
“The Evelyn K Davis kind of helped me put things into perspective. Like the plans that I had, I wasn’t really ready for. [It] helped me take a step back,” Neesha said.
With the help of the EKDC, Neesha was able to pinpoint what the next step for her would be: writing a book.
“Now I’m here, trying to figure things out now that my kids are grown, graduated, out of the way. Now it’s time for me to get to what I’ve been putting off,” Neesha said.
Neesha’s book is titled “This Too Shall Pass” - a phrase she would tell herself on her darkest days. The book tells her life story, including past traumas, life lessons, and inspirational stories. Neesha explained this was a difficult story to tell, yet one that has helped her connect with people over shared experiences.
“It was very freeing. I felt very free but at the same time when I first released it, it was like my secrets were out. I just felt so naked. But then I was like, ‘I can’t really help people if I hide’,” Neesha said.
Now that Neesha’s book is out on the market, she is returning to the EKDC to finish what she started. Publication was the first goal checked off the list - starting a business is next. Neesha has already worked with three programs through the EKDC, including completing the financial bootcamp and Small Business Solutions.
“I’ve recommended Evelyn K Davis to other people who are trying to get their small businesses off the ground. It’s a good avenue for networking [and] direction. They can get you a lot of answers to questions that you’re struggling with,” Neesha said. “For people who are trying to get out there, I think it’s very beneficial. You know, for those who don’t know a lot of things about starting their own business.”
Neesha plans to open a transitional home. She is a single mother of six kids and has dedicated most of her life to raising them. Now that they are older, it is time for Neesha to revisit her own aspiration to give back to the community through entrepreneurship.
“I’ve been a mother for so long; they’ve been my priority, I work around them,” Neesha said. “Evelyn K Davis has given me the drive. They helped me with my discipline.”
Neesha has chosen the best step for beginning this business journey: walking through the EKDC’s doors. As the sales for “This Too Shall Pass” go up, so does her motivation. The EKDC is excited to continue to assist Neesha.
When I was younger I was a size 0 and I could never wear certain clothing items because they never fit length wise or in my chest. I had also struggled with a lot of bullying about my size. I was told I wasn’t attractive because I was too skinny and people would stage interventions because they thought I was anorexic. On the other hand after I had my children I remember going into a clothing store and struggling to find styles that would look good on my new body type and to top it off there was no one there to really care or help when I just wanted advice. I remember deciding to play it on the safe side and grab a size 8 pair of jeans to try on. I ended up breaking down in tears after trying on every size from an 8 to a 14.
J.Lidan’s focus is to create a space where this does not happen to anyone else. I have done away with the wholesale mindset that one size fits all. I offer customized clothing options for size/body type and use body positivity reinforcement words for our size names. At J.Lidan, normal is beautiful and beauty is defined by you!
The name of my collection is Metamorphosis: The Path to Healing. My inspiration behind my collection is based off my own experience of sexual trauma and the journey of my healing process. When it comes to sexual trauma we tend to focus on the bad part then the good parts but we don’t really talk about the process of healing and inbetween. I am still working on healing and my collection is part of that. My message to anyone else going through the same struggle is you are worthy of love and you deserve to be happy. The pain and trauma never go away but eventually you will learn how to deal with it in a healthy way. It is okay to feel the way you do. It is okay to sit in the emotions for awhile. You are strong and you are worthy. You are a fighter and a survivor.
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