- Mariatu Browne, Tu Organics Salon & Spa
Mariatu “Tu” Browne discovered her passion for hair at the early age of 9. She used to braid hair in her home country of Sierra Leone. Fast forward to California in 2006, where a generous investment from a friend helped her open her first salon, Tu’s Studio Hair Design. A series of personal hardships, coupled ...
- Yolanda Quam, The Fuel Shack
Not even two years young, San Clemente’s Fuel Shack displays expertise well beyond its age. Not only does founder Yolanda Quam’s breakfast and lunch kitchen boast the 13th highest Yelp.com national ranking, it provides a community atmosphere where every customer feels like family.
- Tam Le and Richard Lai, Tam’s Restaurant and Sandwiches
Tam Le is no stranger to making food people can’t get enough of. Her bakery, aptly named Tam’s Bakery, was already a staple for dozens of Garden Grove families, college students, and locals. The immense popularity of an off-menu item, a soup served to royalty in her native Vietnam, prompted Tam and her husband, Richard ...
- Ivellisse Morales, bombilla
For a decade, Ivelisse Morales has been an expert in marketing, helping brands of all sizes with the power of creativity. In 2018, she decided to leave her career in corporate responsibility to start her dream company.
- Dr. Rohini Rattu, Dimples Pediatric Dental
In 2007, Dr. Rohini Rattu obtained her Doctorate of Dental Surgery from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in New York City. She soon realized her passion for Pediatric Dentistry and wanted to start her own practice.
- Mark Saavedra, Airport Barbershop
Mark Saavedra came to the small business world via happenstance. He was working at a market and learning to cut hair when his teacher suggested he take over the Truckstop Barbershop. He was unsure, but when friends and family who knew his talent and skills urged him on, his vision for himself changed. Instead of ...
- Dinuka Ranasinghe, Kid Works Children’s Center
Dinuka Ranasinghe studied law and passed the New York Bar exam. But after realizing law was not her passion, she decided to pursue her dream: working with young children. She began studying early childhood development and in 2008 purchased a preschool in Long Beach, California called Kid Works Children’s Center.
- Cinthya Flores, Utz Threads
Cinthya Flores is the successful owner of Utz Threads in Oakland, CA. The name Utz Threads comes from the word “good” in Maya Quiché; the language spoken by the women weavers that create their product in Chichicastenango, Guatemala.
- Lena’s Soul Food, Faces of Entrepreneurship Winner
Lena’s Soul Food has become a pillar in its community of East Oakland. Not only does owner Calvin Andrews employ dozens of people, including formerly incarcerated folks, but he also gives back by giving away unsold food to locals in need, many of whom are unhoused.
- Hakeem & Remietta Dolphin, Brooklyn Deli & Mini Market
Hakeem and Remmietta Dolphin launched Brooklyn Deli & Mini Market to provide healthy menu options in a community with few fresh restaurant options.
- Angel Garcia, AG Machining
Incorporated in 1999, AG Machining started as a two-person machine shop that did only milling. Now, it is a thriving family-owned manufacturer with 105 employees and a long list of machining capabilities. In 2009, owner Angel Garcia considered moving the operation to Mexico to cut costs.
- Pierre and Jenn Davis, Ade Dream
Ade Dream is a labor of love for husband-and-wife team Pierre and Jenn Davis. They started the business in 2014, a year after their first child, Pierce, was born. Pierre’s sister made some baby accessories for the new parents using traditional African fabric from Pierre’s home country, The Gambia. Jenn constantly received compliments and requests ...
- Rosa Guerrero, California Vegan Food Company
Rosa Guerrero Contreras had a dream of launching her own plant-based food business for the last five years. What started as a hobby soon became a passion, but Rosa wasn’t quite sure of how to convert that passion into a business. Last spring, Rosa joined Centro’s Basic Entrepreneurship Program to launch California Vegan Food Company ...
- Koy Saichow, Stony Point Strawberry Farm
Koy Saichow grew up in a subsistence farming community in Thailand, where each season relatives, friends and neighbors would come together to harvest in their family’s vegetable and rice fields. When the Saichow family immigrated to the Bay Area in 1989, they brought along their values of self-sufficiency and generosity and continued to grow Southeast ...
- Pancho Kachingwe, The Hatch
Pancho Kachingwe founded The Hatch Oakland Bar & Restaurant in 2014 to cater to a booming downtown Oakland. “Everything was self-funded,” he recalls. “It was myself doing the cooking, bartending, cleaning, shopping, everything.” But the business grew fast, and by year two, he had 18 employees.
- Robin King, Rene TreVor Jewelry
Robin King always dreamed of having her own business but never imagined it would come from such tragic circumstances. On the same day that she lost her mother to her battle against cancer, her 25-year-old son’s life was also taken. But part of her healing came through creativity. Not long after their deaths, Robin began ...
- Brenda Buenviaje, Brenda’s French Soul Food
Brenda Buenviaje had worked as a chef for years but lacked business experience. When she wanted to open her own restaurant in 2007, not just banks turned her down but “friends, co-workers, my own parents were like, ‘No thank you,’” she said. Opportunity Fund said yes, taking out a lien against her condo to secure ...
- Donald Jacko Sr., DAD Services
DAD Services of Oakland, California is a janitorial company that specializes in providing top-notch commercial cleaning for San Francisco Bay Area businesses. The company was established in 1998 by Donald Jacko Sr., a native Oakland resident, and has always been a minority-owned, family-run business. DAD Services serves a diverse group of clients including medical institutions, ...
- Rosario Sotelo and Rodnia Attiq, El Borrego
Mother-and-daughter Rosario Sotelo and Rodnia Attiq are the owners of El Borrego, the first restaurant in San Diego to serve lamb barbacoa. While El Borrego is now a full-service restaurant, they started out very small almost fifteen years ago by selling barbacoa under a tent in a driveway on the weekends. By word-of-mouth, Rosario and Rodnia’s customers started telling ...
- Manuel Guerrero, Hope Cafe and Creperie
Manuel Guerrero grew up surrounded by a family of entrepreneurs. He embraced this spirit and chose to pursue his entrepreneurial passion through his love of food. After attending culinary school in Mexico where he focused on international cuisine, Manuel furthered his learning by completing a barista training program in Seattle, Washington.
- Maria Harrington, Casa de Español
Before Maria Harrington was a business owner or even a teacher, she was a student at Berkeley exploring a question: How are indigenous cultures changing in terms of language and culture, given mass migration to the US? In her research, she followed a connection to Chiapas, the southernmost state in Mexico. There, she lodged with ...
- Marcia Charles, Pinky Rose Boutique
Marcia Charles has worked in fashion for her whole life. When Marcia was 15-years-old, she started working at department store warehouses in the Bronx. Over the next 35 years, Marcia grew into a self-taught fashion designer and merchandiser, and eventually a self-made small business owner.
- Keba Konte, Red Bay Coffee
Keba Konte has demonstrated his commitment to creating good jobs for people in Oakland, California. In fact, over the years he’s created over fifty jobs through three enterprises. But, when he went to his bank to secure funding to open a new wholesale coffee roastery and cafe, he was turned down.
- Christopher McMichael and Maurion Gaines, Threadz Culture + Fashion
Before they started their business, Christopher McMichael and Maurion Gaines came together over their shared passion for music. In 2012 when Chris was working security and kept hitting ceilings as he tried to advance in his career, he decided to pursue his clothing line full time. “My clothing line had already had some success. I ...
- Tyrone Botelho and Tiffany Hoang, Circle Up Education
- Judi Henderson, Mannequin Madness
After working with business coach Gwen Wright of The Wright Consultants, who also runs Renaissance’s Financing Resource Center, Judi increased her sales by 10 percent and her profit margin by roughly 25 percent. Judi says she’s now well on her way to joining the million dollar club.
- Bethany Smith, B Team Solutions
Bethany Smith, B Team Solutions
- Jatinder Mann, Tranquility Market
A loan from Fresno CDFI in 2014 helped Jatinder Mann purchase the store that he had been leasing for the previous nine years.
- Daniel Yoshimi and Jennifer Yannella, Brasil Arts Café
Daniel Yoshimi and Jennifer Yannella had the passion and funding to open their own business, but needed help from WEV putting their business plan together and keeping focused.
- Al and Tamanna Rahman, Garden of Roses
Al and Tamanna Rahman got married and opened a florist shop. They needed $12,500 to buy a cooler, but were turned down by the bank. Luckily, CDC Small Business Finance was there with a microloan to help them grow.
- Xochitl Guerrero, Taller Xochicura
Oakland artist Xochitl Guerrero launched her Taller Xochicura in 2013, and bought the laptop she needed to expand thanks to a $2,000 savings match from AnewAmerica.
- Catarah Hampshire and Shoneji Robison, Southern Girl Desserts
Catarah and Shoneji were trapped in a series of predatory loans, paying 40% of their daily sales just to keep their business afloat. Thanks to an EasyPay loan from Opportunity Fund, they were able to break out of the vicious cycle and grow their business safely.
- Candance Pilgram-Simmons, All That & MORE Boutique
Pacific Coast Regional SBDC helped Candance Pilgram-Simmons restructure her business when she was ready to move to sole ownership. She almost doubled monthly sales in her first year as sole owner.
- Alfredo Garcia, Watsonville Diesel
Alfredo Garcia had twenty years of experience in diesel trucking, but needed some business development training to grow Watsonville Diesel. Thanks to the firm foundation of strategy and financial management training that CAMEO member El Pajaro CDC provided, he was able to open a second location and make progress toward becoming an international dealer.
- Chiefo Chukwudebe, Chiefo’s Kitchen
Chiefo Chukwudebe’s small business did well at the La Cocina Street Food Festival in 2009, but wasn’t sure she could afford to return in 2011. Thankfully, Opportunity Fund was able to provide her with the $3,000 microloan she needed to return and push her business to the next level.
- Luz Orozco, Qi Hair Salon
Luz Orozco built her own hair salon on a solid foundation thanks to the knowledge and assistance she received from Inland Empire SBDC, and created six jobs in her community.
- Bernardo Ayala, Napa Valley Bistro
Already a successful chef, Bernardo Ayala got the technical assistance and one-on-one support he needed to open his own restaurant from Napa-Sonoma SBDC.
- Melvina Hill, Melvina Hill Consulting
After being laid off, Melvina Hill built her fledgling consulting business with a microloan from Accion San Diego and Kiva.
- Melissa Elia, Mayssa Fragrance
Melissa Elia started working with Women’s Initiative in 1999, and today her microbusiness, Mayssa Fragrance, sells its products across the country.
- Gregory King, Postcards
Gregory King had an MBA and years of experience in the corporate world, but the help he received from Pacific Coast Regional helped take Postcards, his soul food truck micro-business, from idea to reality.
- Myra & Jacqui, Star Partners Security
Sister Myra and Jaqui opened Star Partners Security together, and grew their small business thanks to training and support from CAMEO member Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center.
- Mary Grace Gúzman, Gúzman Legal
After working her way through law school, Mary Grace Guzman opened her own practice in the Bay Area with help from CAMEO member Women’s Initiative for Self Employment.
- Kelly Carlisle, Acta Non Verba
After returning home from the Navy, Kelly Carlisle started a farming project serving East Oakland youth and their families.
- Unita Parnell, Caribbean Day Spa
From a young age, Unita Parnell knew that she wanted to take a different path. “I had no footprints to follow,” Unita shared about her childhood. “Many people around me lacked the motivation to boost their own economic situation, choosing to not further their education nor pursue avenues of self-improvement.”
- Jorge and Oscar Flores, Don Polvoron Bakery
Tired of driving, in 2005 Jorge Flores sold his house and approached his brother Oscar about opening their own place. They bought a donut shop and Don Polvoron Bakery was born. Jorge would run the sales side and Oscar would run the baking. The shop was in a mostly Latino area, so instead of donuts, ...
- Skincare by Feleciai
Skincare by Feleciai – micro-businesses in Oakland supported by CAMEO members Women’s Initiative for Self-Employment, Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center, Centro Community Partners and Oakland Business Development Center.
- Kevin Ho & Juan Miron, A MIHO Experience
Co-owners Kevin Ho and Juan Miron met while working in the restaurant industry and shared a passion for gathering friends and family around good food. In the spring of 2010, they launched MIHO Gastrotruck, a food truck that provided locally sourced, natural, healthy, good food. One of the biggest hurdles they crossed was financing. They weren’t ...
- Jen & Oscar Carpinteyro, Rewind Audio
SIPA helped Jen and Oscar Carpinteyro clarify their plans and goals for Rewind Audio, their vintage audio store.