SOUTH BEND – If you are a woman with a business idea but you're not sure how to get started, you're not alone.
There's a local entrepreneurship training program just for women looking to expand or start a business.
The program named SPARK will soon start selecting women for its 4th session.
WSBT spoke to a business owner benefiting from the program's teachings.
It's a typical day at Discoveries Infant Toddler Center in South Bend.
"We enjoy it," said co-owner Jennifer Long. "And there is nothing better than spending your day in a room full of babies."
Long and Yulli Ortega are the proud owners of the daycare center, which opened in November.
It's been a lot of work but wouldn't have been possible without the special training Ortega received last year. She's a graduate of SPARK.
SPARK is an 11-week entrepreneurship training program for women that teaches things like creating a business plan, marketing, and hiring and managing staff. And perhaps most importantly, connecting women to mentors.
"I am so excited and happy, and I know I am not alone," said Ortega. "I always have a phone number that I can call to ask questions if I need it."
Long has extensive education and experience in child care but also wants to take part in the SPARK program.
"I think Yulli and I are perfect partners, because she has the business background and knowledge which SPARK has helped her develop, and I have the childhood knowledge, so when it comes to decisions about kids and families and curriculum, I have the answer," said Long. "When it comes to taxes and payroll and things, Yulli has the answers."
The two women have big plans to grow their business.
In the meantime, they have already hired two people and taken on several clients. That's the goal of SPARK -- to create jobs, one woman at a time.
Ortega has also started an import-export businesses with her knowledge.
There are 30 SPARK graduates.
Saint Mary's College facilitates the program.
So far, SPARKlers have generated seven local micro businesses and another four are set to launch this year.
If you are interested in taking part in the 4th session of SPARK, there will be a screening session on Friday, February 22 at 8 a.m.
You will have to present your business idea, fill out an application and take an aptitude test.
Classes start on March 5.