Want to create a product?
Library and non-profit team up to help disabled people launch businesses
by Hannington Dia
Reporter Staff Writer
Nov 19, 2017 | 1352 views | 0 0 comments | 56 56 recommendations | email to a friend | print
North Bergen Library Director Sai Rao shows a 3-D printer at the library, part of a program to help disabled people start businesses.
North Bergen Library Director Sai Rao shows a 3-D printer at the library, part of a program to help disabled people start businesses.
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If you happen to have a physical or mental disability, but dream of starting your own business, you can now get free assistance at the North Bergen Free Public Library.

Earlier this year, the library partnered with Goodwill Industries to provide training to handicapped people to start a business, using existing MakerSpace technology at the location. That includes a 3-D printer, T-shirt-making machine, a sewing machine, and an embroidery machine.

A business consultant from Goodwill – a non-profit empowering disabled individuals to gain employment – will come to the library to teach patrons how to make certain products with the available machines. Supplies will also be provided free of charge.

The Kessler Foundation, a company working to improve life for disabled people, is funding the program.

For the library program, Goodwill is also partnering with the Rutgers Center for Innovation and Education, which is providing technical assistance to their business consultants, so they can better assist program participants.

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“You have to have an idea or a passion for being an entrepreneur.” – Lori Margolin

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The program is only available to those with disabilities, who have ideas for a business.

The patrons can also sell their products on Goodwill's online Etsy shop with help from a business counselor.

“Goodwill partnered with us because of the available transportation, and availability in the center of town,” said North Bergen Library Director Sai Rao. “Goodwill is based in Harrison, so this would be a good location for them. Anybody with any kind of disabilities...if they want to start a home business and sell their creations, they can make them. Whatever they make, they keep.”

Rao said the library would like to keep the program going for a few years, if possible. She said that around four to five local residents have showed interest in signing up so far.

“You don't have to know how to make things, or anything like that,” said Lori Margolin, senior vice president for Goodwill's Northern NJ Division. “You have to have an idea or a passion for being an entrepreneur. The goal of the program is to not only get people to monetize their skills, but to teach them in a way that they're able to learn, and make them feel more comfortable in MakerSpaces.”

For now, Goodwill’s entrepreneurial MakerSpace programs are only available at the North Bergen uptown library and Goodwill’s Harrison headquarters. However, the company is in talks to work with another MakerSpace in Jersey City.

For people interested in working with Goodwill at the North Bergen Library, call 201-869-4715.

Hannington Dia can be reached at hd@hudsonreporter.com

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