Friday, May 27, 2005

Energized by Entrepreneurs—Transforming Rural America

“I started out of my apartment, borrowing $600 from the babysitter of my daughter” is how Madolyn Johnson explained to me how she started The HomeMaker’s Idea Company ( in 1971. Today she has over 3000 dealers scattered all over the country, most in small towns. I had lunch with her yesterday and learned of her story.

“Our highest per capita sales are in South Dakota. We are able to offer entrepreneurial opportunities for many people in rural America. Most of our dealers are women but we have quite a few men.”

Madolyn grew up in Iowa, went to school at Iowa State to become a teacher and ended up in Chicago. She left teaching to help take care of her daughter who had hearing problems. She was named by Fast Company Magazine in their May issue as one of the “25 Top Women Business Builders”. Her 90 person company has won numerous other awards.

She is giving back to her Alma Mater, funding entrepreneurism scholarships. She told me of the Entrepreneurism dorm at Iowa State and how several students from the dorm have set up a coffee shop in the front lawn for students on their way to classes in the morning. “They brew it in a little closet in the dorm. It really is fairly sophisticated for being in such a little area,” she told me.

Entrepreneurs come from every walk of life. They are transforming rural America. I love meeting them and get energized when I get to spend some time with them.

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