The organization is aware that entrepreneurs are innovative but are sometimes stymied by eCommerce either because they lack the knowledge or the funding to hire out the expertise. GROW Nebraska teaches the tools needed for online marketing and encourages their members to take advantage of having GROW Nebraska handle some of the eCommerce work for them so they can focus on other aspects of their business.
“GROW Nebraska is more than a retail store. You’re purchasing with a purpose and each purchase benefits members,” said Gargan. “Great products coupled with great marketing skills improves the financial status of individuals, which in turn, strengthens the financial status of communities and eventually the state of Nebraska.”
GROW Nebraska members represent many backgrounds—from high school to senior citizens—and can live anywhere in Nebraska to receive assistance. The members represent all stages of business development and often come to GROW Nebraska because they are interested in turning a hobby or passion project into a business.
One such example is Pacha Soap. The company was founded by Andrew and Abigail Vrbas while they were students at Hastings College. Initially they had one soap to sell and for each bar sold they donated a bar to a third world country.
As students, they didn’t have a lot of money so Andrew was given a GROW Nebraska member scholarship and within five years, Pacha Soap became the Whole Foods Innovative Product of the Year. Pacha Soap is now in Whole Foods stores across the country and employs 50 people in Hastings. The young company’s success is a big victory for a small business.
“Wins come in all sizes—when we can help a new business solidify their business plan, learn about necessary insurance and labeling requirements, teach them how to update their web page and establish a social media following or even help them land their first online sale,” said Cammie Kroll, IT & Development Coordinator. “It’s easy for us to be passionate about the work we do because what we do every day helps Nebraska Entrepreneurs.”