Success Stories – Regions

Central Coast

  • RVS Technology Group, Faces of Entrepreneurship WinnerRVS Technology Group, Faces of Entrepreneurship WinnerWhen owner Ricardo Rocha was a teenager, he dreamt that he became a business owner. Years later, after immigrating from Mexico and working in the fields, he made his dream come true by opening a small computer service shop in Watsonville.
  • Liza Spiridon, Cali Strong CandlesLiza Spiridon, Cali Strong CandlesDuring California’s recent wildfires, Registered Vet Technician Liza Spiridon was living on the Central Coast but knew people in the communities impacted. She decided that she needed to use her skills to help, so she got involved by donating her time helping animals to safety and assisting the people who had lost their homes and ...
  • Karim Kaderali, Santa Barbara AxxessKarim Kaderali, Santa Barbara AxxessSanta Barbara Axxess was founded by Karim Kaderali and a friend in Santa Barbara, California in 1999. By creating an upscale local Membership Program that was unique and trackable, they figured out how to bring local businesses the right local customers. Shortly after launch, they received a startup loan from WEV to print the physical books for their ...
  • Andrea Wasko & Meaghan Gilbert, Connoisseur Creations Andrea Wasko and Meaghan Gilbert of Los Osos, California launched their flagship product, the Quick Pickle Kit after starting Connoisseur Creations in 1996. After struggling with weight issues, Andrea wanted to develop a healthy alternative snack that would help people in similar situations. The Quick Pickle Kit is a safe, quick, simple, and natural way ...
  • Zea Sonnabend, Fruitilicious Farm Zea Sonnabend’s organic farming bona fides cannot be overstated. With an MS in Plant Breeding from Cornell University and 35 years of experience as a farmer, gardener, inspector, educator, policy specialist, organizer, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone more qualified. Yet running her own farming operation still came with its challenges.
  • Matt Maxwell, BoltAbout The idea to start BoltAbout came to Matt Maxwell in November 2015, when he was frustrated by public transportation options. He found the perfect alternative in the form of electric bikes. In April 2016, he decided to turn this passion into a business by launching a pilot program to lease a small fleet of e-bikes ...
  • 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 ...
  • Javier Zamora, JSM OrganicsJavier Zamora, JSM Organics
  • Martín Madriz, The Green WaffleMartín Madriz, The Green Waffle In mid-2015, Martín Madriz found himself uncertain how to get his waffles off of the griddle and into grocery stores. El Pajaro CDC’s Kitchen Incubator gave him the space and support he needed.
  • Vicente Quintana, El Nopalito ProduceVicente Quintana, El Nopalito Produce Vicente Quintana started El Nopalito Produce in Watsonville, CA with a 30-pound box of cactus paddles. In six years, he turned his kitchen-table business into a thriving concern with six employees, processing 10,000 pounds a week and distributed in more than 30 markets across central California.
  • Aureliano Lopez, Tacos el Tizon Women’s Economic Ventures helped Aureliano Lopez formalize his business, and put him on a solid footing so he can expand it new locations.
  • Nikki Dailey, HEAT CulinaryNikki Dailey, HEAT CulinaryNikki Dailey, HEAT Culinary
  • 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.
  • Michael Barriere, BarrierEnergy AssociatesMichael Barriere, BarrierEnergy Associates Inspired by the economic downturn to diversify his development agency, Michael Barriere turned to Women’s Economic Ventures for the training and microloans he needed to launch BarrierEnergy Associates.
  • Alfredo Garcia, Watsonville DieselAlfredo 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.
  • Ninette Paloma, Santa Barbara Centre for Aerial ArtsNinette Paloma, Santa Barbara Centre for Aerial Arts Ninette Paloma launched a successful aerial arts school and performance center after receiving self-employment training from Women’s Economic Ventures.
  • Valerie Velazquez, Meet Your MakersValerie Velazquez, Meet Your Makers Valerie Velazquez, owner of Meet Your Makers, discusses her small business and the support she received from Women’s Economic Ventures of Santa Barbara.
  • Lidia Mendez, Taqueria LidiaLidia Mendez, Taqueria Lidia Thanks to advice from the El Pajaro Community Development Corporation, Lidia Mendez was able to recover a $20,000 loss and find a new location for Taqueria Lidia.
  • Kara McGibben, Perception ConstructionKara McGibben, Perception Construction
  • Elizabeth Pond, Financial Health Services Elizabeth Pond received training from UCSB to get her small business off the ground, then joined Women’s Economic Ventures in order to help other entrepreneurs.

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Central Valley

  • Gabriela Murguia, MercaMex Distributor and Dulceria AlebrijesGabriela Murguia, MercaMex Distributor and Dulceria Alebrijes Gabriela Murguia was born and raised in Zamora Michoacán and comes from a family of merchants. When she was 29 she moved to Ontario, California but found it difficult to find viable work. She moved to Delano, and worked in the fields picking grapes, and in restaurants and a gas station to sustain her family. ...
  • 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.
  • Bertha Magaña, Magaña FarmsBertha Magaña, Magaña Farms Bertha Magaña had experience as a farmworker and good credit, but struggled to find the financing she needed to support her 7 acre organic farm. California FarmLink helped her find over $70,000 in loans to expand her business, and ALBA helped get her vegetables into stores.
  • Christy & Al Kroell, ChristyAl PlaquesChristy & Al Kroell, ChristyAl Plaques Thanks to training from an SBA SCORE chapter and a timely loan from Fresno CDFI, veterans Christy and Al Kroell were able to purchase the laser engraver they needed to launch their small business.
  • Suely Ngouy, Woman for WomanSuely Ngouy, Woman for Woman Suely Ngouy’s Central Valley business was able to secure the licenses and permits they needed to operate as a social enterprise serving Cambodian-American women thanks to help from PACE.
  • John Falcon, Falcon BuildersJohn Falcon, Falcon Builders Falcon Builders has 10 employees. John is known as the “go-to” person on government contracting issues and is a leader in his local Disabled Veteran’s organization. He received vital training from CAMEO member Central Valley Business Incubator.
  • Chai Lee, Chai’s Cleaning ServiceChai Lee, Chai's Cleaning Service Escaping the harsh realities of life in a refugee camp was a victory for Chai and his family, but he had to re-build his life. Chai liked the idea of owning a business. He had no credit history and very little collateral, but wanted to buy a janitorial franchise. Because of an $8,000 loan ...

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Rural North

  • Michael and Barbara Crosbie, Crosbie ChiropracticMichael and Barbara Crosbie, Crosbie ChiropracticMichael and Barbara Crosbie founded Crosbie Chiropractic in 1983 in Southern California and moved to Humboldt County in 2001. They first set up shop in Rio Dell, then in Fortuna in 2006. Dr. Michael Crosbie dedicates his life to alleviating a myriad of conditions, from low back pain to migraine headaches. He is the only ...
  • Dawn Russell, Treats for ChickensDawn Russell, Treats for ChickensTreats for Chickens hatched in 2009 in West Petaluma, California. Those who knew Dawn thought she had simply lost her mind. She gave notice to her employer at a federal government agency in San Francisco to make treats for backyard pet chickens.
  • Mark Saavedra, Airport BarbershopMark Saavedra, Airport BarbershopMark 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 ...
  • Amy Truby, Mt. Shasta Counseling & NeurofeedbackAmy Truby, Mt. Shasta Counseling & NeurofeedbackWhen Amy Truby learned about neurofeedback and its potential to change people’s lives for the better, she decided it was time to open her own practice. But she barely knew anything about running a business – especially when it came to taxes and bookkeeping.
  • Corrina Pena, Frosted BakeryCorrina Pena, Frosted BakeryCorrina Pena was constantly making cakes and cupcakes for family and friends. She decided to turn her baking hobby into a real business called Frosted. Her first step was to visit West Business Development Center, who advised her on the fundamentals: getting her business license, food handler’s certification, and thinking about her brand and ...
  • Rebecca Weston, Sacred Mountain SpaRebecca Weston, Sacred Mountain Spa Just how well is she doing? Her first year the business brought in $209,000, and at the end of 2015, the business brought in $313,000, almost a 67% increase. The next year, she increased sales by another 33%. In 2017 and 2018, despite the chaos brought on by wildfires in the area, the spa has ...
  • Sandy Patterson, New 2 You Inspired by a JEDI class, Sandy Patterson launched New 2 You, a community-focused thrift store in Mount Shasta, which has now grown to two locations.
  • Tara Cooper, ‘Ohana OrganicsTara Cooper, 'Ohana Organics Tara Cooper had the know-how to make fantastic organic butters and salves, but needed help with the business end of things. North Coast SBDC gave her the tools and assistance she needed, and introduced her to a group of local organizations who helped her grow her award-winning company.
  • Rhonda Wiedenbeck, Beck’s BakeryRhonda Wiedenbeck, Beck's Bakery “I had so many ideas and concerns around starting and running my business, and my SBDC business advisor helped me to focus and prioritize them so that I could achieve great success.” -Rhonda Wiedenbeck on North Coast SBDC.
  • Torrey Douglass, Lemon Fresh DesignTorrey Douglass, Lemon Fresh Design Torrey Douglass designs websites under the name Lemon Fresh Design, and had a stellar website, but few customers. “The business side was not my strength,” concedes Douglass, who turned to West Company’s Loyd Hambrick for help grow with her fledgling micro-business.
  • Connie Fledderjohann, Happiness CardsConnie Fledderjohann, Happiness Cards Thanks to support from West Company, encore entrepreneur Connie Fledderjohann was brave enough to change her business model and launch Happiness Cards, her growing micro-business.
  • Larry Knowles, Rising Tide Sea VegetablesLarry Knowles, Rising Tide Sea Vegetables Larry Knowles, owner of Rising Tide Sea Vegetables, identified problems and opportunities for his small business thanks to help from West Company.
  • Tom Ball, Orland Meat ProcessorsTom Ball, Orland Meat Processors After being laid off, Tom Ball opened Orland Meat Processors. Thanks to a loan from 3CORE, his micro-business was able to replace its roof and refinance at a much lower interest rate.
  • Masaki’s Mongolian GrillMasaki's Mongolian Grill Eric and Jeni Masaki had a business problem—albeit a good one—their Kyoto Japanese Restaurant was so popular, the owners had a hard time meeting customer demand. After a few years of running this successful business, the Masakis decided to expand, thanks to a loan from CAMEO member Arcata Economic Development Corporation.
  • Bruce Erickson & Maggie Watson, Mendocino SolarBruce Erickson & Maggie Watson, Mendocino Solar Bruce Erickson and Maggie Watson were employed by Mendocino Solar and then bought out the owner in 2005. To transition from employees to the boss, they met with West Company consultants who assisted them with financial planning, employee management, social media, and funding that included a $12,00 stimulus grant and a $95,000 business loan.
  • Jessica McGuinty, JessicurlJessica McGuinty, Jessicurl Jessica McGuinty was able to grow Jessicurl, her Humboldt-based hair product business, thanks to extensive coaching from the North Coast SBDC and a loan from the Arcata Economic Development Corporation.
  • Ted Sheets, Advanced SignsTed Sheets, Advanced Signs

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Sacramento Area

  • Dr. Rohini Rattu, Dimples Pediatric DentalDr. Rohini Rattu, Dimples Pediatric DentalIn 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.
  • Susan Difuntorm, Smiles & More Photo BoothSusan Difuntorm, Smiles & More Photo BoothSusan Difuntorm is a retired Air Force veteran of 23 years, recent State of California retiree, a mother, grandmother, and a dear friend to many. This fun-loving grandma has had a camera in her hands since she can remember. She combined her love for taking photos with her desire to start a business of her ...
  • Maria Harrington, Casa de EspañolMaria 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 ...
  • Andrei Sobolev and Serhiy Misiruk, Creative Millworks, Inc.Andrei Sobolev and Serhiy Misiruk, Creative Millworks, Inc. When banks wouldn’t give Andrei Sobolev and Serhiy Misiruk a loan, they found a solution with Opening Doors. Now, they get frequent loan offers from those banks and can choose where they’ll take their business.
  • David Aragon, Araparts David Aragon loved cars from an early age, and had made enough money from reselling hard-to-find car parts — including one discontinued part that he’d had to re-produce himself — to open his own business. He was ready and eager to grow, but banks weren’t willing to lend to him due to his youth. He ...
  • Javad Yaghoubi, City ShadeJavad Yaghoubi, City Shade When a sunglasses cart in the mall went up for sale, Javad jumped at the opportunity. He purchased the business in November of 2014, but needed more capital for inventory. Opening Doors helped Javad create a strong business plan and cash flow projections, and in December approved him for an $8,000 loan.
  • Irena, Silhouette Custom DesignIrena, Silhouette Custom Design Ten years ago Irena was eight months pregnant and fleeing her home country of Ukraine with her husband and two small children. Today, with help from Opening Doors’ Prosperity Project, Irena is a thriving entrepreneur who supports her family doing the work she loves.
  • Kimberly Haines, Pampered Pet Salon & BoutiqueKimberly Haines, Pampered Pet Salon & Boutique Kimberly Haines had a solid business plan and a love of pet care, but couldn’t find the loan from a bank she needed to start her own business, CAMEO member Opening Doors stepped in with a microloan, and her pet salon opened in Novemeber 2013.
  • Davin Vculek and Joe Blanton, Krush BurgerDavin Vculek and Joe Blanton, Krush Burger Krush Burger has expanded to two brick and mortar locations plus a fleet of food trucks thanks to high-quality food, a robust social media presence, and a small business loan from CAMEO member SAFE-BIDCO.
  • Karen Bartlett, Veterans Home TeamKaren Bartlett, Veterans Home Team Karen Bartlett participated in Veterans Business Outreach workshops and trainings to develop Veterans Home Team, her award-winning Sacramento-area business.
  • Kamal Mansoor, K.A.S. Auto SalesKamal Mansoor, K.A.S. Auto Sales Kamal Mansoor opened his own micro-business thanks to a microloan from CAMEO member Opening Doors.
  • Vonita Murray, Mariposa Valley FarmVonita Murray, Mariposa Valley Farm Gulf War veteran Vonita Murray got the help she needed to make her farm a success from CAMEO member Farmer Veteran Coalition.
  • Ginger Elizabeth Hahn, Ginger Elizabeth ChocolatesGinger Elizabeth Hahn, Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates

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San Diego Area

  • Daniel Palacios, Berkeley PizzaDaniel Palacios, Berkeley Pizza In the fallout of the 2008 Great Recession, Daniel Palacios — then a real estate investor in San Diego — wanted to reinvent himself in another industry. During this phase, Palacios recalled the hearty stuffed pizzas he regularly craved from establishments like Zachary’s when he studied at UC Berkeley. Then it dawned on him: There was ...
  • Rosario Sotelo and Rodnia Attiq, El BorregoRosario 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 ...
  • James Holtslag, The Heart and TrotterJames Holtslag, The Heart and Trotter Civic San Diego provided Accion San Diego, a nonprofit microlender, $400,000 in lending capital from the Civic San Diego Loan Fund in 2017. This capital is supporting small businesses in communities that have a median household income of $60,000 or below. One of the businesses who received funds was The Heart and Trotter Butchery located ...
  • Jeremy LeBlanc and Chad Berkey, Tin PlayJeremy LeBlanc and Chad Berkey, Tin Play After four years of development, Jeremy and Chad were ready to launch their line of speciality bartending tools, but needed a small loan to get started. Thankfully, Accion San Diego was there to fill the gap with a $25,000 microloan.
  • Melvina Hill, Melvina Hill ConsultingMelvina Hill, Melvina Hill Consulting After being laid off, Melvina Hill built her fledgling consulting business with a microloan from Accion San Diego and Kiva.
  • John & Maria Harrison, Tea GallerieJohn & Maria Harrison, Tea Gallerie John and Maria Harrison’s San Diego-based small business was able to double its revenues and hire two new employees thanks to a loan from Accion San Diego.
  • Unita Parnell, Caribbean Day SpaUnita 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.”
  • Kevin Ho & Juan Miron, A MIHO ExperienceKevin Ho & Juan Miron, A MIHO ExperienceCo-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 ...
  • Chris & Jennifer Saint, Sweet Treats San Diego – One day at a friend’s party, Chris, Jennifer and some others were reminiscing about the ice cream truck when they were kids – the excitement they had when they heard the music, the breathlessness from running in the house, scrounging for change and hoping you didn’t miss the truck, eating the peanuts ...
  • Lucy Ludwig Lucy Ludwig received a $3,000 microloan from Accion San Diego to launch her law practice.

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San Francisco Bay Area

  • Sofia Lopez, Santo Hermano Pedro BoutiqueSofia Lopez, Santo Hermano Pedro BoutiqueBack in Antigua, Guatemala, Sofia Lopez had a small business. She sold items like pocketbooks, belts, and wallets on the vibrant main square. She always wanted to run such a venture and was achieving success. That is, until violence compelled her to leave her homeland a decade ago.
  • Lupe Guerrero, El PipilaLupe Guerrero, El PipilaIn 1988, Lupe Guerrero migrated to the US. She was in search of a better life for her and her two young daughters. After arriving in Berkeley, Lupe found a job at a taqueria where she worked 12-hour days, 6 days a week.
  • Sandra Ann Harris, ECOlunchboxSandra Ann Harris, ECOlunchboxECOlunchbox had a well-established multi-tiered distribution network but the demand for its green consumer products was stronger than the small company could support due to undercapitalization. ECOlunchbox was frequently going out of stock on all its products due to high demand and lack of resources to adequately buy stock. Additionally, the bootstrapped company was seriously ...
  • Cinthya Flores, Utz ThreadsCinthya Flores, Utz ThreadsCinthya 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.
  • Lindsey Ott, Mama TongLindsey Ott, Mama TongEver since she can remember, Lindsey Ott has loved babies and everything that has to do with the miracle of childbirth. In her 20s, she studied to become a midwife. Then, she found herself traveling in Hawaii and settled in an organic farm in Maui. There, she started learning about growing plants for sustenance and ...
  • Lena’s Soul Food, Faces of Entrepreneurship WinnerLena's Soul Food, Faces of Entrepreneurship WinnerLena’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.
  • Bonnie Arnwine, National Autism ResourcesBonnie Arnwine, National Autism ResourcesNational Autism Resources was founded by Bonnie Arnwine. It is an e-commerce business featuring products and services for caretakers of people on the autism spectrum. With a son on the spectrum and an award-winning book – Starting Sensory Integration Therapy – Bonnie felt confident that there was a need for her business. Still, she went ...
  • Pierre and Jenn Davis, Ade DreamPierre and Jenn Davis, Ade DreamAde 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 CompanyRosa Guerrero, California Vegan Food CompanyRosa 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 ...
  • Tim Obert & Clint Potter, Seven Stills BreweryTim Obert & Clint Potter, Seven Stills BrewerySeven Stills Brewery began as a bootstrapped business in a garage, making whiskeys from craft beers. Tim Obert and Clint Potter, who became friends at UC Santa Cruz, started brewing and distilling for fun at Clint’s parents’ house in Novato. 
  • 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.
  • Jake Reisdorf, Carmel Honey Company Carmel Honey Company (CHC) grew out of a passion for bees and earning good grades.  As a 5th grade student at Carmel River Elementary, Jake was given a real-world homework assignment to research the education and daily duties of a website designer. During his research, Jake designed a website about honey bees and shared his ...
  • 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 ServicesDonald 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, ...
  • Koji Kanematsu, OnigillyKoji Kanematsu, Onigilly Onigilly is a fast-casual restaurant chain specializing in Japanese rice balls, called “onigiri.” Koji Kanematsu founded Onigilly in 2007, after noticing a lack of healthy, affordable food options in the United States. “In Japan, onigiri is everywhere,” says Koji. “I used to eat it every day because it is convenient, healthy, and affordable. Our mission is ...
  • Jen Musty, Batter BakeryJen Musty, Batter Bakery Jen Musty launched Batter Bakery in 2008 after two years of working on her plan and recipes. Since then, Batter has grown from a one-woman business to a full-fledged local bakery that’s made a name for itself alongside several iconic San Francisco favorites. During its first years, Batter’s only retail spot was a tiny kiosk ...
  • Saul Chavez, El Gran Taco LocoSaul Chavez, El Gran Taco Loco “I felt like I had lost everything. When something like this happens, it’s hard to stay positive.” That’s how Mexican immigrant Saul Chavez, co-owner of El Gran Taco Loco with his spouse Angelica Quezada, describes his emotions following the destruction of his commercial space in the Mission and 29th streets fire in June 2016. Chavez’ popular Mexican food ...
  • Keba Konte, Red Bay CoffeeKeba 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 + FashionChristopher 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 ...
  • Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas, Faces of Entrepreneurship WinnerAlicia's Tamales Los Mayas, Faces of Entrepreneurship Winner If several years ago you would have told Alicia Villanueva that she would be making over 40,000 tamales a month, she would not have believed you. By day she cleaned houses and did home care. Every night she dreamed of starting her own business. Since arriving in the United States in 2001, she had a ...
  • Tyrone Botelho and Tiffany Hoang, Circle Up EducationTyrone Botelho and Tiffany Hoang, Circle Up Education
  • Stardusted Events, Joze LopezStardusted Events, Joze Lopez
  • Judi Henderson, Mannequin MadnessJudi 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.
  • Nancy and David Ortiz, Buenaventura Travel AgencyNancy and David Ortiz, Buenaventura Travel Agency Colombian immigrants Nancy and David Ortiz have been running Buenaventura Travel Agency since 1983, but needed to upgrade their equipment to compete with online booking firms. Thanks to a $5,000 MMS loan from Working Solutions they were able to make the changes they needed.
  • Abraham Lopez, YucaTech Technology SolutionsAbraham Lopez, YucaTech Technology Solutions Abraham Lopez immigrated from Mexico in 1998, and worked hard to master English and earn an Associate’s Degree in Computer Information Systems, all to further his dream of opening his own electronics repair store. Thanks to help from Renaissance Marin and their Small Business Development Center, he is now the proud owner of YucaTech Technology ...
  • Xochitl Guerrero, Taller XochicuraXochitl 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.
  • Ryan Farr, 4505 MeatsRyan Farr, 4505 Meats In 2012, Working Solutions client Ryan Farr, founder of 4505 Meats, sought advice from a Working Solutions mentor for his rapidly expanding business. Two years later, Ryan has graduated from his Working Solutions microloan, obtained conventional financing, and opened a new barbecue restaurant in San Francisco! Ryan had created a whopping 70 jobs in San ...
  • Pedro Zerpa, Fusion Peruvian GrillPedro Zerpa, Fusion Peruvian Grill An immigrant from Peru, Pedro Zerpa worked his way up from dishwasher to head chef of a San Francisco restaurant with no formal culinary education. After 15 years as a chef, Pedro was ready to strike out on his own, and opened Fusion Peruvian Grill in San Mateo. He needed a microloan to expand his ...
  • Chiefo Chukwudebe, Chiefo’s KitchenChiefo 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.
  • Penny Baldado, Cafe GabrielaPenny Baldado, Cafe Gabriela Penny Baldado moved to the United States from the Philippines and opened her own cafe thanks to training and financial assistance from CAMEO member AnewAmerica.
  • Bernardo Ayala, Napa Valley BistroBernardo 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.
  • Melissa Elia, Mayssa FragranceMelissa 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.
  • Kristin Long, MIGHTYminnowKristin Long, MIGHTYminnow Kristin Long went from being a solo freelancer to developing a strong consulting business by forming strategic relationships with other freelance consultants. Then she went from freelancing to having a brick and mortar space with employees.  Her story is a great example of how ‘self-employment is the labor market trend.’
  • Luis Abundis, Nieves Cinco de MayoLuis Abundis, Nieves Cinco de Mayo Luis Abundis’ Oakland-based small business grew to include multiple stores thanks to help from Centro Community Partners.
  • Fredy Gamez, Mission Street Oyster BarFredy Gamez, Mission Street Oyster Bar Small business owner Fredy Gamez opened the Mission Street Oyster Bar thanks to technical assistance from MEDA and a microloan from Working Solutions.
  • Myra & Jacqui, Star Partners SecurityMyra & 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 LegalMary 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 VerbaKelly Carlisle, Acta Non Verba After returning home from the Navy, Kelly Carlisle started a farming project serving East Oakland youth and their families.
  • Skincare by FeleciaiSkincare 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.
  • Jessica Nowlan, Hope SolutionsJessica Nowlan, Hope Solutions Jessica Nowlan got her business, Hope Solutions, off the ground thanks to help from CAMEO member Women’s Initiative for Self-Employment.
  • William Ortiz, Gentle Parking William Ortiz was able to found and grow Gentle Parking thanks to training and support he received from CAMEO member Mission Economic Development Agency.
  • Cortland Avenue CorridorCortland Avenue Corridor San Francisco – An unprecedented number of small businesses in the Cortland Avenue Corridor are utilizing an important asset in the San Francisco small business community. Working Solutions, a local nonprofit microlender is providing much-needed capital to businesses that need small loans that traditional banks won’t touch. And creating jobs in the process – ...
  • Galen Garretson, Town CutlerGalen Garretson, Town Cutler San Francisco – Galen saw beautiful sushi-grade fish lose their clean line, vegetables chopped in non-uniform sizes, and butchers turn red because of rough cuts. Finally fed up with this problem, he put down his chef’s hat and replaced it with a whetstone.
  • Sarah Dvorak, Mission CheeseSarah Dvorak, Mission Cheese San Francisco – Sarah Dvorak knows cheese. Whether it be the sweet and nutty Estero Gold, the smooth and earthly Boho Bel, or the notoriously fragrant bleu cheeses from Northern Califiornia, this cheesehead breaks it down for you.
  • Simonida Cvejic, Bay Area Medical Academy When Simonida Cvejic came here from former Yugoslavia in 1996, she never thought she’d find herself wanting to start her own business. She had a job in the financial industry when, in 2004, she became a single parent. She realized she would have to make some changes in her life to accommodate her new situation. ...

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Southern California/Los Angeles Basin

  • Erin Foate, Dachs 2 DanesErin Foate, Dachs 2 DanesIn January 2011, Erin Foate moved back with her parents after graduating with a degree in business. She had no job, no car, and was living off her savings. Her parents and (then) fiancé helped cover her bills. She developed a business plan for a dog daycare and pursued an initial start-up loan, but they ...
  • Jon and Gila Kurtz, Dog Is GoodJon and Gila Kurtz, Dog Is GoodJon and Gila Kurtz launched their lifestyle brand for dog lovers, Dog is Good, in 2007. Gila, a professional dog trainer, saw an opportunity in the marketplace for fashionable clothing that expressed her love of dogs. Jon, a retired US Navy Captain was full of ideas for humorous, catchy phrases that playfully express the joy ...
  • Dinuka Ranasinghe, Kid Works Children’s CenterDinuka Ranasinghe, Kid Works Children's CenterDinuka 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.
  • Cindy Greaver, Mrs. G’sCindy Greaver, Mrs. G'sCindy Greaver and her husband, Kent, began Mrs. G’s over twenty years ago when she started making hot pepper jellies as gifts for friends and family. Since then, her heady, homemade confections have caught fire with customers and fans across the country.
  • Hakeem & Remietta Dolphin, Brooklyn Deli & Mini MarketHakeem & Remietta Dolphin, Brooklyn Deli & Mini MarketHakeem and Remmietta Dolphin launched Brooklyn Deli & Mini Market to provide healthy menu options in a community with few fresh restaurant options.
  • Angel Garcia, AG MachiningAngel Garcia, AG MachiningIncorporated 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.
  • John Diskin and Rita Capponi, Grand Central Palm SpringsJohn Diskin and Rita Capponi, Grand Central Palm SpringsWhen John Diskin and Rita M. Capponi moved to Palm Springs with dreams of opening a restaurant, they didn’t imagine the two-year journey they’d take to making that dream a reality. Finally, on November 15, 2018, John and Rita were ready to share Grand Central Palm Springs with the community.
  • Don & Jake McPeck, Mess Hall CanteenDon & Jake McPeck, Mess Hall CanteenDon McPeck started his business with only an idea. His gourmet food truck, Mess Hall Canteen, got started thanks to The Food Network. An appearance on the show Food Truck Faceoff gave Mess Hall Canteen a vehicle — in more ways than one.
  • Meredith Pizzi, Roman Music Therapy Services Meredith Pizzi started playing trumpet in the fifth grade and joined her school’s jazz band. It was after a performance of “Gonna Fly Now” from the motion picture Rocky that Meredith recognized the profound connection she felt to others through the power of music. “We still talk about that concert. Feeling that level of connection ...
  • Angela Bicos Mavridis, Tribalí Foods Angela Bicos Mavridis, a San Marino, California resident, comes from an entrepreneurial family. Her father owned a drive-thru that served up burgers, fries, and shakes. This, she later realized, was a far cry from the way her grandmother cooked and ate in their homeland of Greece. Mavridis spent childhood summers there, enjoying scratch-made Paleo cuisine ...
  • Manuel Guerrero, Hope Cafe and CreperieManuel 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.
  • Marcia Charles, Pinky Rose BoutiqueMarcia 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.
  • James Holtslag, The Heart and TrotterJames Holtslag, The Heart and Trotter Civic San Diego provided Accion San Diego, a nonprofit microlender, $400,000 in lending capital from the Civic San Diego Loan Fund in 2017. This capital is supporting small businesses in communities that have a median household income of $60,000 or below. One of the businesses who received funds was The Heart and Trotter Butchery located ...
  • With Love Market & Café, Faces of Entrepreneurship WinnerWith Love Market & Café, Faces of Entrepreneurship Winner Andrew McDowell was laying on the beach in Cancun, reading My Business, My Mission – the story of businessmen and entrepreneurs partnering together to find solutions for economic growth to restore and impact lives. The immense impact of social enterprises in third world countries detailed in the book, and two years of collecting ideas, brought ...
  • Bethany Smith, B Team SolutionsBethany Smith, B Team SolutionsBethany Smith, B Team Solutions
  • Paul LaRocco, LaRocco’s Pizzeria Despite having run two successful restaurants, banks considered Paul LaRocco’s pizzeria “too new” because he was self-employed. Thankfully, Pacific Coast Regional was there to get him the loan he needed to grow.
  • Toni Ricci, Elite Dance and Performing Art CenterToni Ricci, Elite Dance and Performing Art Center Toni Ricci had achieved her dream of owning her own dance studio, but she hit a wall when she couldn’t qualify for a bank loan. Luckily, VEDC was able to provide her a microloan and the business counseling she needed. Today, Elite Dance has doubled its staff and tripled its students.
  • Al and Tamanna Rahman, Garden of RosesAl 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.
  • Catarah Hampshire and Shoneji Robison, Southern Girl DessertsCatarah 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.
  • Max Aram & Chris Blevins, PickMySolar.comMax Aram & Chris Blevins, PickMySolar.com PCR SBDC Business Advisors Martha G. Castro and Harold C. Hart-Nibbrig helped Max Aram figure out how to monetize his idea, conduct market research, develop a business plan with financial projections, incorporate the business and develop a partnership agreement once Chris Blevins came on board.
  • Candance Pilgram-Simmons, All That & MORE BoutiqueCandance 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.
  • Luz Orozco, Qi Hair SalonLuz 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.
  • Harvey Ledesma, Ledesma OptometryHarvey Ledesma, Ledesma Optometry Thanks to a $25,000 microloan from CDC Small Business Finance and business training from Inland Empire SBDC, Dr. Ledesma was able to retain five jobs, increase inventory and generate an additional $200,000 in revenue at his small optometry business.
  • Gregory King, PostcardsGregory 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.
  • Leslie Labowitz-Starus, FoodologyLeslie Labowitz-Starus, Foodology Leslie Labowitz-Starus used funds and training she received from VEDC to sustain her organic and natural food small business through the recession.
  • Beny Benjamini, License2BlingBeny Benjamini, License2Bling Thanks to help from Pacific Coast Regional, Beny Benjamini was able to obtain a $200,000 business loan for his small business creating crystal studded license plate holders.
  • Sarah and Louise, The S’Cream TruckSarah and Louise, The S'Cream Truck As moms of middle-school children, Sarah Reinhardt and Louise Browne-Gonzalez saw the treats being served from ice cream trucks near schools and thought there should be a healthier alternative. Thus was born the S’Cream Truck.
  • Lucas & Marcia, Universal Art GalleryLucas & Marcia, Universal Art Gallery Lucas and Marcia Da Silva, owners of the Universal Art Gallery in Los Angeles, have been in the custom art framing business for 16 years, and were facing an all too familiar problem: the need to expand versus the fear of an uncertain economy. With the help of VEDC and a Citywide Small Business ...
  • Verity Somers, Raw WorkoutsVerity Somers, Raw Workouts Verity Somers learned the skills she needed to be her own boss thanks to the instruction she received from CAMEO member Women’s Economic Ventures and the support from other WEV graduates.
  • Jason T., Semper Fi SecurityJason T., Semper Fi Security Marine Jason T. launched Semper Fi Security with the help of Goodwill of Orange County.
  • Jen & Oscar Carpinteyro, Rewind AudioJen & Oscar Carpinteyro, Rewind Audio SIPA helped Jen and Oscar Carpinteyro clarify their plans and goals for Rewind Audio, their vintage audio store.
  • JJ Lee & Chris Lord, Overtone ProductionsJJ Lee & Chris Lord, Overtone Productions
  • Johneric Concordia, The Park’s Finest The Asian Pacific Islander Small Business Program helped Johneric Concordia find the $12,000 he needed to open The Park’s Finest.

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