Portland’s latest sensation in nonprofit small business lending has captured the attention and affections of some heavy-hitting business names.
In just 18 months, the Albina Opportunities Corp., working with such other groups as Mercy Corps [Northwest] and the Small Business Administration, has issued 15 loans ranging from $10,000 to $150,000. Its future loans will allow borrowers to collect up to $200,000.
The group, a nonprofit business development organization that provides smaller business entrepreneurs access to capital, averages about $83,000 per loan.
In 2005, I made a five year plan to own my own catering company. I graduated from culinary school in 2007. In 2008 a major incident of domestic violence left me a single mother of three boys. The struggling economy in 2009 led to the loss of my job as a catering chef. My five year plan seemed to come to a halt. I began to look at the food cart movement in Portland as an option to follow my dream in spite of my circumstances. After a good year of recipe development and market research, The Gaufre Gourmet was born!
Greatest Challenges: My greatest challenge is balancing work, family and school. Any startup business requires a lot of time, this proves for difficulty in daily scheduling. It is a great challenge to make sure everyone is in the right place at the right time.
Greatest Reward: My biggest reward is the reaction I get when people try a waffle! Their eyebrows rise in a surprised excitement after they take a bite and then all I hear is mmmmmm! It is priceless.
Charlene Wesler, a Mercy Corps Northwest client and owner of the liege-style waffle food cart Gaufre Gourmet (parked at the north east corner of Burnside and SW 3rd) spent her holidays handing out free waffles, coffee, and tea to all who stopped by. Channel 12 news even stopped by and did a feature on their efforts. You can watch the video here.
Hats off to Charlene, Michael, their children, and their extended family for their graciousness and embodiment of the true spirit of the holidays.
The success of Mercy Corps Northwest’s programs and services would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of volunteers like Tom Howe, a business seminar presenter. Howe is a local practicing business attorney as well as the owner of a web services company, Control Center. He has written four books and speaks at legal conferences throughout North America and technology conferences around the world. Currently, he delivers his seminars at Mercy Corps Northwest and at SCORE. His commitment to helping small businesses succeed has made him a valuable asset to our team and highly sought after teacher amongst our clients.
Call to Action
Tom Howe is a lifelong volunteer, and has given time to such organizations as Big Brothers, Big Sisters and The Yellow Brick Road. He just wrapped up 20 years of volunteering with SnowCap Community Charities. He states that service is a family value, and that his family strives to include volunteering into their vacations….