The Senate Special Committee on Aging held a joint hearing with the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee focusing on entrepreneurism and older Americans.
You’re never too old to start small and think big was the message woven through the hearing In Search of a Second Act: The Challenges and Advantages of Senior Entrepreneurship. Senior Entrepreneur Works Co-Founder and CEO Elizabeth Isele said senior business start-ups present new digital business opportunities through increased demand for technology products and services. Many seniors participate in the culture of "artisanal capitalism,” Isele said. She offered the example of 90-year-old Pearl Malkin who launched her business Happy Canes after her grandson helped her establish a successful $3,000 Kickstarter campaign for seed money to create her canes and sell them via Etsy, an online marketplace for handmade arts and crafts.
SCORE CEO Ken Yancey told the senators that “encore entrepreneurship” fulfills the senior population’s desire to contribute to their communities and “our communities in turn benefit from these ventures.”
About 25 million people ages 44 to 70 expressed an interest in starting their own business or nonprofit corporation within the next five to 10 years and 85 percent of that group said they had significant management experience, according to a MetLife Foundation study.
Tameka Montgomery, an associate administrator with the Small Business Administration, said that Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 comprise the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the country.
CEO of Mia Senior Living Solutions Conchy Bretos also testified. MIA provides assisted living services to public housing residents. This spring the company plans to open and manage an assisted living community for the District of Columbia Housing Authority. Since its first project in Florida in 1996, MIA has worked with public and private entities in 23 states.
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