Brooklyn resident Monique Greenwood, a Bedford-Stuyvesant businesswoman, innkeeper and former editor-in-chief at Essence magazine, has opened her fourth bed and breakfast (B&B) establishment, thanks to the “Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses” program.
Referred by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, Greenwood credits the program, which is offered at LaGuardia Community College, for giving her the knowledge and tools she needed to open the new inn in Bethany, Penn., this past spring.
The program is designed to help small businesses across the U.S. grow and create jobs through greater access to business education, financial planning and capital, and business support services.
“I learned how to measure cash flow and operational costs and how to project future costs,” she said. “I have better confidence now with my financial management.”
Another aspect of the program that became important to Greenwood was the network of colleagues she has found in her fellow classmates.
“Owning a business is often a solitary experience,” she said. “Other entrepreneurs ‘get’ your challenges and sense of accomplishment. It’s a mutual bond.”
Since completing the program in 2011, she has also added one full-time and one part-time employee to her staff of eight and hired four employees at the new site. And last year, her business, known as Akwaaba Bed & Breakfast Inns, earned $1 million in revenue, a “significant“ increase from the previous year.
Greenwood said it was chance or fate back in 1993 that got her thinking about trying her hand at a new career. While driving in her Bed-Stuy neighborhood, she spotted an old and beautiful Victorian mansion, an uncommon sight in the surrounding vicinity of brownstones.
She and her husband eventually purchased the historic Akwaaba mansion and converted it into a bed and breakfast.
Running the operation while continuing to put out a monthly issue of Essence for seven years was tough and Greenwood finally decided in 2002 to focus her time and energy on the B&B business full time.
After leaving Essence, she not only experienced great success with her original location in Bed-Stuy but has enjoyed success at her four additional locations — one in Washington, D.C., two in Cape May, N.J., and one in New Orleans, which she since sold.
To learn more about the Goldman Sachs program at LaGuardia, please visit www.laguardia.edu/10ksb.