In April 2020, when most of the world was shut down or sheltering in place due to COVID-19, small business owners were faced with some serious challenges: try to keep their businesses afloat by whatever means they could, or temporarily close their doors and hope for the best.
Carime Ruvalcaba, who owns Karime Child Care, LLC, in Grand Island, Nebraska, found herself in this exact position.
In operation since April 2017, Karime Child Care is licensed by the State of Nebraska and provides professional child care services for children ages 6 weeks to 12 years. Although Carime handles all of the child care herself as the business’ only employee, she hopes to soon have a part-time assistant.
The pandemic forced her to close her business, and when Carime came across an announcement on social media for training events through the Center for Rural Affairs she jumped at the opportunity.
“Since no one was able to leave home, I had no children to care for,” she said. “I saw that the Center offers many different academies in Spanish, which I find to be more helpful since Spanish is my primary language.”
The Center’s academies are multi-session, sector-specific trainings presented by instructors with expertise in each area. Graduates leave the academies with a basic understanding of key business concepts and industry skills. Participants are also offered one-on-one technical assistance, and, in some cases, they have the option to receive professional certification.
Carime enrolled in as many academies as possible, educating herself on topics including financial management, marketing, loans, QuickBooks, making a business plan, child care, strategic planning in times of COVID-19, and disaster recovery.
The most valuable tools she gleaned from these training events was how to use technology.
“I had the intention of learning techniques to apply to and improve my business,” she said. “I am now able to make a business website, manage social media advertising, develop goals, and better manage my business and my time.”
While participating in the academies, Carime worked with Center staff members, including business development specialist Raul Arcos-Hawkins.
“Carime is the example of perseverance and how to work toward what your business needs,” said Raul. “Currently, she has joined a women's child care group to get more mentorship for her business, and has always sought opportunities to grow professionally and personally.”
And, although she’s already gained a considerable amount of knowledge through the Center’s academies, Carime hopes to keep learning and expanding her business.
“I love them [the academies], I always learn something new,” she said. “The Center is a very important part of Karime Child Care's growth, through training, counseling, and loans. Center staff offered great support in all the academies that I have participated in, and they do a great job connecting people who have knowledge with those who need and want to learn how to manage and improve a small business.”
At a glance