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 the indigenous family of a friend in their jungle community.

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 knew that for it to grow to the next level, I needed to open a store to better serve the business,” remembers Chris. At the same time, Maurion was doing well in his job as an electrician and wanted to invest some of the money he had saved into something he was passionate about. As Chris shared his desire to take his clothing line and expand into a retail store, Maurion knew it was the right time and opportunity he’d been looking for. Together they launched Threadz Culture + Fashion, a retail store featuring the best streetwear and urban clothing styles in Oakland. They offer custom, limited run pieces, enabling their customers to build a look that is truly unique.

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.

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.