California’s Micro-Businesses Create Jobs, Build Neighborhoods and Transform Lives
Annually CAMEO members serve about 21,000 very small businesses with training, technical assistance and loans. These firms – largely start-ups with less than five employees – support/create 37,000 jobs for California’s economy.
When very small businesses succeed, they create jobs, they build their neighborhoods and communities so that California can thrive.
CAMEO’s Faces of Entrepreneurship
Each year, CAMEO celebrates the invaluable contribution small and micro-businesses make to California by honoring the Faces of Entrepreneurship. Each recipient has worked closely with a nominating CAMEO member, and has made significant contributions to their community, giving back some of the help and support they received.
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 clarity to his vision. That day he made the decision to exit the world of digital advertising and start his own business.
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 passion for sharing her Mexican culture and the best way to do that was through cooking tamales.
California’s Micro-business Success Stories
You can also view success stories by the following categories:
- Tyrone Botelho and Tiffany Hoang, Circle Up Education
How do you turn a deep-seated passion for peace, justice and community engagement into a living? This is the question Tyrone Botelho, 31, and Tiffany Hoang, 26, were asking themselves in 2014. The two former Peace and Conflict Studies majors hit it off during a restorative justice training session Botelho was helping run and Hoang ...
- Javier Zamora, JSM Organics
As a working student and a father with a family to support, things were so tight financially that Zamora sometimes had to scrape together change to put gas in his car. Eventually, hard work began to pay off again and in 2011 he was able to lease an acre and a half of land. Through ...
- Stardusted Events, Joze Lopez
When the Great Recession hit, Joze Lopez was working as a contractor for HP in Silicon Valley as an industrial electrician until the company announced it was moving the operations to India and he was laid off. The father of three, he needed to provide for his family, but he also saw this as an ...
- 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.
- 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.
- Martín 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.
- Bethany Smith, B Team Solutions
Necessity may be the mother of invention, but if you ask any inventor, they may say the real devil is noticing that need. Then, of course, you have to do something about it.
That’s how it was for Bethany Smith of B Team Solutions, LLC, who turned a concern for worker safety into a booming $250,000 ...
- Rebecca Weston, Sacred Mountain Spa
2012 was a rough year for Rebecca Weston. Not only did she turn 50, an often dreaded milestone in anyone’s life, but the coffee shop she’d been managing for years shut down.
Living in Siskiyou County, a beautiful, rural area with sparse industry in Northern California, few businesses and even fewer available jobs, Weston needed a ...
- Vicente 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.
- Nancy 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.
- 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 Culinary
This story comes to us from Women’s Economic Ventures. HEAT Culinary was one of WEV’s first applicants under the Microloan Management System (MMS), and has gone on to great success since receiving a loan from the organization.
“MMS has been tremendously helpful for us,” said Devon Johnson, WEV’s Director of Lending. “We’ve been ...
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 ...
- Abraham 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 ...
- Toni 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.
- Javad 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.
- Tara 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.
- 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.
- Michael 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.