Microbusiness Advancement Center Business Technology Initiative

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Microbusiness Advancement Center
City & State:
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

The Microbusiness Advancement Center (MAC) is a nonprofit microenterprise development organization that provides affordable training, resources, and microloans to entrepreneurs wanting to start, grow or fund a microbusiness in Southern Arizona. We emphasize serving low-income, disadvantaged people to encourage economic self-sufficiency. MAC is the only small business agency in So. Az. to provide all its services in English and Spanish.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

Category: Optimize Mission Delivery

Background Information/ Need for Program

MAC’s training services and technical assistance helps to reverse the high rate of failure among start-up and nascent businesses by recognizing that there is a business skill set necessary for a business owner to thrive that is distinct from their entrepreneurial skills and passions. MAC has proven that microbusiness ownership provides an alternative for families who often lack access to the education and resources to make their way out of poverty. Our programs have enabled us to successfully develop entrepreneurs since 1990. Our services are unduplicated, and make a significant economic contribution to our microenterprise economy and the Tucson economy as a whole.

MAC served more than 600 clients in 2008 with entrepreneurial training or services. Approximately 70 percent of these individuals qualified as low-income. Fifty six percent of MAC’s clients are women. MAC’s client base is 40 percent Hispanic. In order to serve our diverse community, all of MAC services are provided in English or Spanish. Our clients, especially minority and low-income, need sustained, hands-on training in business technology capacity-building in order to compete. Within the microbusiness industry, few low-income entrepreneurs are using technology effectively to accelerate their business.

To respond to this disparity in technology skills, MAC developed a Business Technology program. These classes emphasize the use and mastery of Microsoft products. The intent of the program is to meet the technology needs of our client base of disadvantaged aspiring and expanding entrepreneurs in order to help them compete successfully. How Microsoft technologies have contributed to what we have achieved in the following areas: SERVICES:In-House Computer Lab – Microsoft Office

MAC is encouraging the technological capacity of its clients with free use of its computer lab. With Microsoft Office Suite (acquired through Tech Soup,) we offer clients free use of up to 14 laptops, where they can use a computer to work on their business plans, research competition and markets and practice skills learned in our classes. Clients without the means to purchase a computer or internet access find it useful to use our quiet lab and receive staff help when needed.


More than 25 clients have used the computer lab since it opened in Fall 2008. The average use time is two hours. We could not offer this resource if it weren’t for Microsoft Office products from Tech Soup.

PROGRAMS Business Planning Class – Instruction in Excel

Hundreds of clients have received Excel training through MAC. After completing the class, 60 percent of students rated their comprehension in Excel as “Good,” an increase of 40 percent. Students with no prior knowledge of Excel finish the class able to use it to help monitor their inventory, track income and expenses and present professional graphs and charts for lenders. Clients apply their acquired Excel skills in their business plans, allowing them the freedom and flexibility to implement their knowledge real-time.

Business Technology Classes

MAC launched its Business of Technology classes in mid-2008, to teach basic and marketing skills to MAC students and the community. The classes can be taken consecutively or as individual modules. The classes which utilize Microsoft products are:

1. Tech Basics (Explorer, Word)

This two-hour class in English; three hours in Spanish, teaches elemental functions of computer use for students who require an introductory class to prepare them for the next level of technology classes. This free class is taught in our computer lab, which holds up to 14 people.

Upon completion of this class, participants can:  Turn on the computer, start programs, and properly shut down the computer  Work with folders in File Explorer  Minimize, maximize, and close windows  Switch between two running applications  Create, open, close, and print files  Open Microsoft Word, type a document and save it  Know the difference between a single and double mouse clicks  Type and send an email  Browse the Internet

30 clients have completed the Basics class, 82% of whom were low income. These figures show that the need for low-cost business technology information is greatest for those who do not have access to this instruction.

2. Tech Tools for Marketing (Word, Publisher and Picture Manager)

This hands-on 6-hour class is designed to help clients learn to use technology to create low-cost marketing materials. We are able to offer the class for free to MAC graduates; others pay only $25. Upon completion of this class, participants can:  Create print marketing materials in Word and Publisher  Use Microsoft Picture Manager basic image-editing tools  Use digital cameras and scanners and apply to a business context  Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of various email and electronic marketing tools  Describe the features of website development tools

To date, 35 students have completed Tech Tools, 61% of whom were low income.

Client’s Experiences Evaluations of the Tech Classes are all favorable, with the majority of ratings at the highest level of “5”- “Very Satisfied.” Some highlights from client evaluations:

“Tech Tools for Marketing was a wonderful class. The education I received about creating flyers was very helpful and I can't wait to put it in action. I am grateful for this class and would suggest it to anyone who is starting a business!”

The course gave me the opportunity to experience how to design hands-on. The hands-on way is the way I learn best, by doing it!


Microsoft PublisherWith Publisher, MAC has greatly upgraded the quality of its marketing collateral. Before Publisher, our fliers were amateurish and limited to single sheets of paper; with no cohesive piece of collateral which outlined our mission and programs. With Publisher, we easily create professional-looking flyers reflecting our brand, which this agency never had before. The easy-to-use design tools in Publisher enable our staff to design readable, attractive flyers even without prior graphic design experience, saving the agency thousands of dollars (see attached before & after flyers). Before Publisher, MAC’s class list was distributed on a sheet of paper. Now, we have a professional-looking booklet which informs the public not only of our classes and workshops, but our overall mission as well (see attachment).

There is now a unity to our marketing collateral, and every marketing piece we generate ties to our website, integrating MAC’s message and image. Publisher is indispensable to MAC in conveying a consistent, professional image to the public. The increased professionalism in our materials has resulted in increased interest from stakeholders; and not only clients; but funders, partners and governmental entities view us in a more credible light.

Submission Category
Optimize Mission Delivery