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Success Stories – Minorities

  • Dionne McCray, Iva Jewell
    Dionne McCray is the founder, designer, and owner of Iva Jewell by Dionne. She makes accessories for the daring, brave, and beautiful woman who likes bright colors and big prints. “I’ve always been happiest when I am making things,” she said.
  • Adam Morales, Smokey Lips BBQ
    With more than two decades of experience in the culinary industry, Chef Adam Morales discovered a passion for barbecue that kindled the flames of his entrepreneurial spirit. Smokey Lips BBQ began as a hobby. It then evolved into a full-time venture when the pandemic forced the closure of the upscale steakhouse where Chef Adam served ...
  • Pamela Marquez, Puzz E Gata Jamaica
    Pamela founded Puzz e Gata Jamaica in 2020 to share the benefits of the sweetened, cinnamon-spiced hibiscus flower tea across Northern California. For a long time, she had been unable to find any product that matched the traditional recipes she had encountered in Mexico. This year, she began working with the California Capital Women’s Business Center to develop strategies for the sustainable growth and ...
  • Ahriana Edwards, Vaila Shoes
    When Ahriana Edwards landed her first corporate internship, she was thrilled—until it came time to shop for shoes. For Ahriana, the limited shoe options available to women with larger feet had been a source of frustration and insecurity since middle school.
  • Ana Guerrero, FirstGen_Resilience
    Ana Yessica Guerrero is a social entrepreneur who dedicates her life to empowering first-generation Latinx students to reach their full potential. She is a proud immigrant from Mexico City and grew up on a ranch in Goleta, Calif. As a first-generation student herself, she had numerous aspirations and goals.  Ana was an eager and determined scholar, yet she received ...
  • Ke’Anna Dodds, RUE Kitchen
    Ke’Anna Dodds is a classically trained private chef from Vista, California, who has worked for world-renowned chefs such as Wolfgang Puck and many others. Her business was thriving, and she was working with a growing number of regular clients.
  • Bosko and Maya Kante, ElectroSpit
    Pioneering music technology company ElectroSpit makes the world’s only lightweight, fully-portable, tubeless talkbox. This technology allows musicians to play various instrumental sounds and voices through their mouth. This creates a unique ability to “sing” with limitless range and creativity. Every device is hand-crafted at the company’s headquarters in West Oakland, California, a historically Black community.
  • Bernadette Aguirre, INA Botanicals & Tea
    Bernadette Aguirre is a first-generation Filipina American from San Francisco, California. She is the founder of INA Botanicals & Tea, an herbal and specialty tea company that is dedicated to supporting personal growth and wellness. 
  • Jose Mendoza, FiestaBowls
    FiestaBowls, located between 18th and 19th streets, is an example of the tenacity of the Mission’s business community. In challenging times, this community found ways to carry on in the pursuit of their dreams. This year, the Mexican snack business was one of the initial recipients of a loan from the Racial Equity Lens (REL) ...
  • Xiomara Rosa-Tedla & Dagne Tedla, UnoEth
    After a trip to Ethiopia to visit family, Dagne Tedla brought a leather messenger bag as a gift for his daughter Xiomara. After countless compliments and inquiries from friends and strangers about the bag, Dagne suggested the two should start a business. Initially, Xiomara resisted as she was focusing on her corporate career and busy ...
  • Lashawnda Scaccianoce, Delight Your Senses
    Lashawnda Scaccianoce has been passionate about food and feeding people since she was young. In fact, she was only 11 years old when she had her first catering “job”. As a mother of 5 children, she has always participated in her community. She has served on school PTOs and volunteered with various community-based organizations, including ...
  • Tana Harris, Harris Hoisting
    Tana Harris had been in the construction industry for nearly 20 years when she started thinking about starting her own business. In 2013, she attended Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center’s introductory business class. What started as just an idea came to fruition as Harris Hoisting, the only African-American woman owned hoisting company in the city of San ...
  • Wanda Blake, Wanda’s Cooking
    Wanda Blake’s cooking apprenticeship started in her mother’s kitchen. It then continued in the kitchens of great aunts, aunties, grandmas, and cousins. In 1981, Wanda attended City College of San Francisco to study hotel and restaurant management. In 2015, she launched Wanda’s Cooking.
  • Jorge Ochoa, Leonora Goat Dairy
    Meet Jorge Ochoa, owner of a goat dairy farm called Leonora Goat Dairy. Jorge grew up in Mexico where his family has a rich history of working with animals on a farm. When he came to the United States, he wanted to carry on his family’s legacy and start a farm of his own. He ...
  • Denise Doss, Niecy’s Delight
    Meet Denise Doss the owner of Niecy’s Delight.  She specializes in production of a pound cake recipe developed by her 103-year-old Grandmother, Carrie Doss of Littlerock, Arkansas. She currently produces three flavors, Pure Vanilla, Classic Lemon, and Forever Pineapple
  • Alicia Maria Kidd, Wine Noire
    Wine Noire LLC., an import, export and wholesale distribution company based in Berkeley, CA. Launched in 2017, The Wine Noire specializes in helping winemakers who are women and people of color get their wines into the marketplace, as well as directly into the hands of consumers.
  • Socorro Manzano, Tacos Manzano
    Ms. Socorro Manzano is the owner of Tacos Manzano, a cozy and proud establishment that started just when the pandemic crisis erupted in 2020. But Ms. Manzano rose to the challenge.
  • Jasmine Epperson, Epperson Consulting
    Jasmine Epperson is a Mendocino County bookkeeping business owner working with client businesses located anywhere. We just chatted about her expertise, challenges that businesses have with their finances, and what’s changing for her while participating in the StartUp Mendocino program.
  • Lupita Vidals, Producciones Arcoiris
    Dreams like those of Lupita and many more; resilient, brave, hard working women who fight every day in solidarity so that their cooperatives and/or businesses can continue to move forward.
  • Charina Vergara, Titas of Manila
    Charina Vergara began her culinary career as a food vendor at local night markets where she offered original Filipino cuisine. In 2019, she was offered a business opportunity to take over an existing Filipino restaurant. Ms. Vergara & her business partner jumped on the chance and became the new owners of Titas of Manila in ...
  • Ken Granderson and Dale Dowdie, Black Facts is the longest-running data-driven repository of Black history on the internet. was created in 1997 by Ken Granderson and Dale Dowdie, two black technologists, who saw there wasn’t a place to get facts about African-Americans online, so they built a place for Black communities to be in control of their narratives. A labor ...
  • Soichi and Raechel Kadoya, Soichi Sushi
    Chef Soichi Kadoya was a highly respected fixture in San Diego’s sushi scene. After 25 years of training in Japanese cuisine, he and his wife Raechel were ready to branch out and start their own restaurant.
  • Ariana Marbley, Esscents of Flowers
    Inspired by her grandfather’s love of gardening, Ariana Marbley decided to open her florist shop, Esscents of Flowers, in Oakland, California in 2016. As an East Oakland native, she is proud to own a business in a community that is rich in culture and political awareness.
  • Leah Park Fierro, Milkfarm
    After six years as manager of Silverlake Cheese Shop, Leah Park Fierro knew she wanted to start her own business. She wanted to express her passion for educating the community on the fine tastes of artisan cheese. Her startup, Milkfarm, is a neighborhood cheese shop that sells hundreds of international cheeses. They also sell artisanal ...
  • Shani Jones, Peaches Patties
    Peaches Patties is owned and operated by Shani Jones and Yeheyis Bedada. The duo bake and cater traditional Jamaican dishes and patties. The name for Peaches Patties comes from Shani’s mother, who is lovingly referred to as “Peaches” by friends and family. According to Shani, if you visited the Jones family household anytime in the ...
  • Deanna Hurn, Miracle Math Coaching
    When Deanna Hurn opened Fairfield’s Miracle Math Coaching 12 years ago, she was only in her mid-twenties. She did not know the first thing about running her own business.
  • Black Entrepreneurs Making History
    SÜPRMARKT started out as a pop-up produce store located in farmer’s markets, offering low-cost organic food to Olympia Auset’s community. When she decided it was time for a permanent spot, she enlisted the help of CDC Small Business Finance.
  • Lamees Dahbour, Mama Lamees
    Most Americans have sampled hummus, that creamy Middle Eastern blend that is the perfect complement for vegetables and crackers. Well, the Bay Area is now excitedly trying new items like musakhan: pita bread with onions, almonds, and sumac.
  • 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 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, MIHO Catering Co.
    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.