The Opportunity Through Entrepreneurship Foundation was started by Francine Hardaway in 2005.
A former foster parent, Francine had first hand experience with the challenges faced by at risk populations. Her former foster kids grew up in situations that most of us can not even imagine.
Today, two are ex-felons who went to prison for non-violent offenses during the years of mass incarcerations. They have never been able to get jobs that would support them after they “did their time” and she decided the best thing to do for them would be to put them into business. But first they had to learn “legal” business skills. So she started the foundation with the mission to provide entrepreneurship skills to disadvantaged populations.
Over the years, OTEF’s team raised money for the Foundation by running 8 statewide entrepreneurship conferences. With the proceeds, we helped over 1000 entrepreneurs and several non-profit partners start businesses. Our biggest success stories have been helping Tumbleweed Home for Runaway Youth start a t-shirt business that survives to this day, helping Southwest Autism Research and Rehabilitation Center start a coffee bean packaging business, and helping a group of domestic violence victims start the Cup o’Karma coffee shop in Mesa.
We have also run entrepreneurship programs at Gangplank in Chandler and at the West Mesa Community Development Corporation.