BOSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, Citizens Bank Senior Vice President, Middle Market Banking and Chairman of the Board of Interise, Joe Wadlinger, presented the second annual Citizens Bank Good Citizens Award to Todd Snopkowski, owner and CEO of Snapchef. Snapchef is a Boston-based culinary workers employment firm that last year trained and placed more than 1,200 workers, predominantly residents of low-income neighborhoods.
The award was presented at thrive!, an annual event held by Interise, a Boston-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to assist established small businesses operating in low-income areas reach their growth potential. The event celebrates the more than 4,000 small enterprises Interise has supported over the past decade. These established small businesses bring jobs and economic opportunities to low-income communities.
“At Citizens Bank, we strongly believe in investing in organizations that make a positive impact in the communities where we live and work,” said Wadlinger. “The Good Citizens Award recognizes small businesses for their contributions to the health of their communities. Citizens Bank and Interise are committed to supporting Snapchef and other small businesses like it that do so much to improve the health and economic vitality of their communities.”
“It is often said that a job is the most effective social program, and Snapchef is a brilliant affirmation of that statement,” said Jean Horstman, Interise’s CEO. “At Interise, our goal is to identify businesses that have moved beyond the start-up phase, established a record of profitability over time, but need help growing to the next level of performance. Interise’s support programs gave Todd the tools and network to bring his business to scale. His success, in turn, has provided career-path jobs and helped build more resilient communities.”
In 2004, Interise launched its trademarked StreetWise ‘MBA’™ program, which uses a facilitated peer-learning method to provide established small business owners with the business knowledge, management know-how, and networks needed to implement a three-year strategic growth plan. This capacity building program enables small business owners to create long-term plans, to access capital, and to participate in the bidding process for government and institutional contracts.
“The StreetWise program helped in many ways,” said Snopkowski, who founded Snapchef in 2002. “Peter Martin was the instructor, and I learned a lot from him. But the biggest thing for me was meeting other business owners who were having the same problems I was. Talking to each other gave us all confidence.”
Today, Snapchef has five locations (two in Boston and one each in Holden, MA, Rhode Island and Worcester), 450 customers, including Gillette Stadium, and places 200 workers per day. Snapchef uses what Snopkowski describes as the “earn and learn” method. He hires unskilled workers from the community, conducts background checks and then puts them through a five-day training program in which they learn basic culinary skills. When they are trained, the company provides transportation to and from the work site.
“Our model is revolutionary,” said Snopkowski. “We are a culinary training school, working with people who are often in transitional positions, such as half-way houses. We provide skills and a job and a path to grow.”
Snopkowski stays in touch with StreetWise alumni, at times using their expertise to help keep his business on course. “There’s a growing demand for culinary workers. If I stay in my zone, I will keep growing at the rate I have for the past two years: 30 percent to 35 percent annually,” said Snopkowski.
Interise is the go-to partner with a proven model for accelerating economic and small business growth in lower income communities. Its StreetWise ‘MBA’™ provides small business owners with the management knowledge, business know-how and relationships they need to scale using a peer-based learning method. Interise licenses the StreetWise ‘MBA’™ curriculum to partners who deliver it through their own locally branded programs. Alumni historically create new jobs at 5x the rate of the private sector as a whole and have secured almost $3 billion in government and institutional contracts. As alumni grow, they contribute to economic development, job creation and social resilience within their local community. More information can be found at www.interise.org, @StreetWiseMBA, and at www.facebook.com/Interise.