CAMEO is proud to announce the winners of the second annual CAMEO Face of Entrepreneurship Awards – MIHO Gastrotruck from San Diego and Mendocino Solar from Mendocino, two small businesses that created jobs in these trying economic times.
“CAMEO initiated the Faces award because we came across so many small companies that were doing well, even in a down economy,” says Claudia Viek, C.E.O. of CAMEO. “We wanted to celebrate them because they create jobs and build community.”
MIHO Gastrotruck provides locally sourced, natural, healthy, good food. 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 and so launched their business in the spring of 2010. One of the biggest hurdles they crossed was financing. They weren’t successful in securing financing through traditional means and were referred to ACCION San Diego who lent them $15,000 to buy and fix up an old lunch truck.
“Finding ACCION was a huge break for us because it really enabled us to go for it as new business owners,” says Kevin Ho.
In less than two years, MIHO has expanded to two trucks and a full catering service. They now employ up to 17 people in the peak summer season. They’ve built up a large and dedicated customer base with almost 10,000 Twitter followers they affectionately call HOMI’s.
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.
“We are a family owned business…. We just celebrated our seventh anniversary,” says co-owner Maggie Watson. “We started at zero employees; no we’re at five and we plan to add two to four employees in the next year or so.”
Not only is the company hiring and increasing revenue in a down economy, but the owners care deeply about their community and are committed to a green future. The company is a solar contractor for GRID Alternatives, a non-profit that provides solar systems for low income homes.
“These two companies are the tip of the iceberg,” says Viek. “In 2010, CAMEO members like ACCION and West Company supported 22,000 businesses that created 38,000 jobs with business assistance and microloans.”
CAMEO’s mission is to promote jobs, economic opportunity and community well-being through entrepreneurship training, business coaching and microfinance. CAMEO is California’s statewide Micro Enterprise association made up of over 160 organizations, agencies and individuals dedicated to furthering the fortunes of micro-businesses in California.
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