Success Stories

When very small businesses succeed, they create jobs, they build their neighborhoods and communities so that California can thrive.

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.

With Love Market & Café, 2018 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 clarity to his vision. That day he made the decision to exit the world of digital advertising and start his own business.

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Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas, 2018 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 passion for sharing her Mexican culture and the best way to do that was through cooking tamales.

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Meet our previous Faces of Entrepreneurship winners


Our Latest Success Stories

  • Susan Difuntorm, Smiles & More Photo Booth Susan 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 ...
  • Tim Obert & Clint Potter, Seven Stills Brewery Tim 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. 
  • Karim Kaderali, Santa Barbara Axxess Karim 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 ...

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  • Corrina Pena, Frosted Bakery Corrina 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 ...
  • Don & Jake McPeck, Mess Hall Canteen Don 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.
  • 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 ...
  • 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 ...
  • 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.

You can also view success stories from the following categories:

Men | Women | Regions | Veterans | Immigrants | Minorities | Green Micro-Businesses

Faces of Entrepreneurship