Are you surprised to hear that low-income business owners and entrepreneurs get help from nonprofit legal organizations?
Today is Small Business Saturday, a day to celebrate and support small businesses and all they do for our communities, designed as a complement to Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the new Giving Tuesday. Today the U.S. Small Business Administration urges all of us to shop at small, locally-owned businesses to support our neighbors and strengthen our local economy.
Small businesses have a powerful impact on our communities and larger society. OneJustice supports using our consumer power to support small, local businesses – which are frequently a road out of poverty and toward self-sufficiency for low-income entrepreneurs and small business owners. (For more about entrepreneurship as a poverty alieviation strategy, read here.)
Just like large multi-national corporations, who access legal advice and representation by large law firms, small business owners and micro-entreprenuers often face pressing legal problems. For small businesses, a legal problem can be the difference between thriving and failure – but they usually cannot afford law firm billing rates. The free legal help provided to low-income small businesses and micro-entrepreneurs by organizations in the OneJustice network – like Public Law Center, Public Counsel, Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights, Volunteer Legal Services Program (legal help for non-profits), and others – can make all the difference.
The 2011 California Civil Justice Crisis Hearings — which were staffed by OneJustice — documented that businesses rely on a fully-funded civil court system – and small businesses and entrepreneurs need the help of nonprofit legal organizations. The Hearings Report found that:
“Small businesses, which often do not have the resources to pay for an attorney, depend on courts and the assistance of legal services to protect their interests and enforce their rights when they become subject to a wrongful increase in taxes or involved in a lawsuit.”
A wonderful example is the testimony provided by Nina Jun, the owner of a small laundry business in Santa Ana. We were inspired to hear Nina’s testimony about how Public Law Center and pro bono attorneys from the firm of Crowell & Moring helped her fight the wrongful increase of her taxes by approximately $4,000. You can hear Nina’s testimony first-hand in the video above.
Nina reported that – “For a small business like mine, an increase of this amount in tax is big . . . It was not only a monetary victory, but it was a triumph [of] spirit and the pride of . . . small businesses, who are looking for justice.”
So, SHOP SMALL AND LOCAL today on Small Business Saturday. Our community small businesses need all of us – consumers and nonprofit legal organizations – to help them survive and thrive in today’s complex and competitive business sector. And not only will you be supporting the local economy – you might just be supporting someone’s path out of poverty to self-sufficiency.
WE WANT TO KNOW – what is your favorite local, small business that you can support today? Share in the comments here or on our facebook page or LinkedIn page! (You can also find maps of small businesses in your area participating in Small Business Saturday here.)