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Helping entrepreneurs in under-resourced communities

Kaiser Permanente’s support of Inner City Capital Connections program helps propel Palmdale small business owner’s journey to success.

Carolyn Henderson received much-needed information to become a successful business owner.
Carolyn Henderson received much-needed information to become a successful business owner.

Carolyn Henderson, an entrepreneur from Palmdale, California, owns Hedge of Protection Security Services. Established in 2019, her small business provides essential physical security services to various establishments in the region, including banks, medical facilities, and hotels. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Henderson couldn’t meet with clients and conduct interviews, threatening her business. Her passion for entrepreneurship led her to apply for the Inner City Capital Connections program funded by Kaiser Permanente.

The ICCC program is a free, 40-hour mini-master’s degree designed by the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City to help small businesses in under-resourced communities build capacity for long-term sustainable growth. Nominations and applications are accepted on a rolling basis, giving entrepreneurs the opportunity to take their businesses to the next level.

Kaiser Permanente partnered with the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City in 2016 to bring the ICCC program to Southern California, helping nearly 600 small-business owners sharpen their business skills and gain access to capital. Offering valuable training in marketing, accounting, and finance, the program is tailored for small-business owners like Henderson.

In May 2023, Kaiser Permanente hosted an alumni session for entrepreneurs who have graduated from the program in southern California. The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City invites alumni to webinars and program refreshers, surveying them to track the program’s impact, and offering various in-person and virtual sessions on topics like access to capital, business development, mental health, and more.

Empowering small-business owners to succeed

“I love learning, so it’s just exciting that I was chosen,” said Henderson. “The program provided me with a wealth of information needed to become a successful small-business owner. To say it was an integral part of my success would be an understatement. I thoroughly enjoyed participating and I learned a lot of valuable information, which helped me sharpen my saw.”

Henderson gained insight into profits, losses, taxes, and the importance of capital for businesses. The program equipped her with the skills to create a pitch deck and conduct a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis. This enabled her to identify her company’s strengths and weaknesses. The resources also helped her overcome the challenges brought on by the pandemic.

“As soon as we hit the ground running, we ran smack dab into COVID-19, so we were unable to meet with people, conduct interviews, or meet with clients,” she said. “The classes provided by ICCC allowed me to keep up with and understand what our accounting firm and our payroll firm were doing for our business. Now I understand how important marketing is and I understand profit and loss statements. It would benefit any small-business owner to take part in the ICCC program. It is a launchpad to success.”

Commitment to economic opportunity

Kaiser Permanente is proud to support small businesses through the ICCC program and recognizes the importance of empowering small-business owners in building strong, healthy, and vibrant communities.

The ICCC national program will be offered virtually in 2023, with the Opening Seminar Series taking place Tuesday, July 25, and Thursday, July 27. If you’re ready to take your business to the next level, apply now at

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