How did Jenefeness Houston get started with her business?
Having worked for the state government, Department of Homeland Security, a public university system, and a large non-profit, Jenefeness had a great deal of work experience across industries and sectors.
But she had never been an entrepreneur before.
“So I went to a class called So You Think You Want to Start a Business,” she laughs. The class, through a non-profit called Increase CDC, helped Jenefeness write a business plan and get off the ground.
She started Financial Comfort Consulting to help empower a wide variety of clients with financial education. At first, she worked mainly with people who were unbanked and had a very low degree of financial literacy; she taught classes through a local non-profit and worked one-on-one with clients. Now, the business works largely with “microenterprises” that have less than 5 employees and are looking for access to capital — whether because they’re just starting out or because they’re trying to grow their business. “We focus on their personal as well as business finance,” says Jenefeness, “and try to help them grow in whatever area may be lacking.”
At the same that Jenefeness is working with individual clients, she is also trying to spread financial empowerment through more scalable means. Jenefeness recently wrote a book on fiscal health, and is also writing a curriculum on financial education for a local middle school. “One of the best parts of my career is being able to work with youth entrepreneurs,” says Jenefeness. She tries to instill in her students the opportunity and possibilities of entrepreneurship — “being an employee isn’t their only option.”
Jenefeness is also hoping to bring her message of financial literacy and empowerment to domestic violence victims. “The number one reason victims stay with their abusers is monetary,” she says. “They don’t have the resources or foundation” to be able to leave. She hopes to develop a curriculum and resources to give women the knowledge they need to start their lives anew.
Jenefeness understands the challenges of building a small business first-hand. “One of my biggest challenges has been becoming the authority in my field. You need experience to get in the door, but to get experience, you need to get in the door.” But Jenefeness has managed to overcome these obstacles — and in doing so, helped show her clients that where there’s a will, there’s a way.