DreamBuilder Logs 2 Million Hours of Training Entrepreneurs

September 29, 2023

Desiree Schnell was ready to give up on her dream of owning an all-sizes clothing boutique in Safford. She made a go of it in 2021 but fell into debt during the holidays and did not see any way to turn the business around. 

Then she discovered DreamBuilder, a free, online training program for entrepreneurs launched in 2012 through a partnership between Freeport-McMoRan’s charitable foundation and Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management. For the next several months, she put her business on hold to learn the basics through DreamBuilder, things like writing a strategic business plan and managing costs. 

By the time she finished the program, Schnell had regained the confidence she needed to pursue her dream. When she started DreamBuilder in January 2022, she was about $4,000 in debt and ready to quit. By the end of the year, she was operating Josie James Co. both online and in a Safford storefront and generating “six-figure” sales numbers.

Schnell’s success in operating her business happens to coincide with DreamBuilder recently hitting the milestone of having provided 2 million hours of training for entrepreneurs seeking to become better at running their own business.

“I definitely would not be where I am today if I had not done DreamBuilder,” Schnell said. “I think I probably would have thrown in the towel because I was just at the point where I had already given up. Something that DreamBuilder really taught me more than anything was to really hone in and know your finances, know every single margin and how much money you are spending in every single area. It's crazy how much more power you have and how much more empowered you feel in your business when you actually understand the ins and outs of the finance side of things.” 

Schnell is one of about 150,000 people, mostly women, who have enrolled in DreamBuilder since it started. More than 42,000 people have graduated from the program, which has registered users in in 172 countries and is available in both English and Spanish. Most participants are from the United States, Chile and Peru, where Freeport has active mines.

DreamBuilder’s Impact 

While the 2 million-hour milestone is significant, of more importance is the number of women who have benefitted from the training, said Tracy Bame, Director of Social Performance, and President of the Freeport-McMoRan Foundation. 

“It’s a significant amount of hours because it’s a significant amount of women who have gone through the program,” Bame said. 

DreamBuilder is geared toward women and the unique challenges they face in building a business, but it also is open to men. It is the largest of several programs Freeport supports to strengthen local communities and their economies, especially those where the company has operations. 

“It’s important to the community because it’s an opportunity for us to provide the training needed to start and grow the small business sector and diversify local economies,” Bame said. “That’s important to the company because it allows us to contribute to building community resilience over time. When we help diversify local economies by supporting the growth of the small business sector, they become less dependent upon the mining economy, developing skills and livelihoods that help them thrive over the life of the mines and beyond.”

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