California’s Micro-Businesses Create Jobs, Build Neighborhoods and Transform Lives
In 2011, CAMEO members served 21,000 very small businesses with training, technical assistance and loans. These firms – largely start-ups with less than five employees – supported/created 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.
California’s Micro-business Success Stories
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2013 Success Stories
- Leslie Labowitz-Starus, Foodology
Leslie Labowitz-Starus used funds and training she received from VEDC to sustain her organic and natural food small business through the recession.
- Beny Benjamini, License2Bling
Thanks to help from Pacific Coast Regional, Beny Benjamini was able to obtain a $200,000 business loan for his small business creating crystal studded license plate holders.
- Shani Chen, OShune Body Care
Shani Chen received a series of microloans through the Community Financial Resource Center’s Microloan Capital Partners Program, and grew her small business from a part-time solo position selling out of farmer’s markets to selling her products in area stores and through her website.
- Karen Bartlett, Veterans Home Team
Karen Bartlett participated in Veterans Business Outreach workshops and trainings to develop Veterans Home Team, her award-winning Sacramento-area business.
- Suely Ngouy, Woman for Woman
Suely Ngouy’s Central Valley business was able to secure the licenses and permits they needed to operate as a social enterprise serving Cambodian-American women thanks to help from PACE.
- John & Maria Harrison, Tea Gallerie
John and Maria Harrison’s San Diego-based small business was able to double its revenues and hire two new employees thanks to a loan from Accion San Diego.
- Luis Abundis, Nieves Cinco de Mayo
Luis Abundis’ Oakland-based small business grew to include multiple stores thanks to help from Centro Community Partners.
- Fredy Gamez, Mission Street Oyster Bar
Small business owner Fredy Gamez opened the Mission Street Oyster Bar thanks to technical assistance from MEDA and a microloan from Working Solutions.
- Larry Knowles, Rising Tide Sea Vegetables
Larry Knowles, owner of Rising Tide Sea Vegetables, identified problems and opportunities for his small business thanks to help from West Company.
- Valerie Velazquez, Meet Your Makers
Valerie Velazquez, owner of Meet Your Makers, discusses her small business and the support she received from Women’s Economic Ventures of Santa Barbara.
- Myra & Jacqui, Star Partners Security
Sister Myra and Jaqui opened Star Partners Security together, and grew their small business thanks to training and support from CAMEO member Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center.
- Sarah and Louise, The S’Cream Truck
As moms of middle-school children, Sarah Reinhardt and Louise Browne-Gonzalez saw the treats being served from ice cream trucks near schools and thought there should be a healthier alternative. Thus was born the S’Cream Truck.
- Tom Ball, Orland Meat Processors
After being laid off, Tom Ball opened Orland Meat Processors. Thanks to a loan from 3CORE, his micro-business was able to replace its roof and refinance at a much lower interest rate.
- Mary Grace Gúzman, Gúzman Legal
After working her way through law school, Mary Grace Guzman opened her own practice in the Bay Area with help from CAMEO member Women’s Initiative for Self Employment.
- Kelly Carlisle, Acta Non Verba
After returning home from the Navy, Kelly Carlisle started a farming project serving East Oakland youth and their families.
- Kamal Mansoor, K.A.S. Auto Sales
Kamal Mansoor opened his own micro-business thanks to a microloan from CAMEO member Opening Doors.
- Lucas & Marcia, Universal Art Gallery
Lucas and Marcia Da Silva, owners of the Universal Art Gallery in Los Angeles, have been in the custom art framing business for 16 years, and were facing an all too familiar problem: the need to expand versus the fear of an uncertain economy. With the help of VEDC and a Citywide Small Business ...
- Unita Parnell, Caribbean Day Spa
From a young age, Unita Parnell knew that she wanted to take a different path. “I had no footprints to follow,” Unita shared about her childhood. “Many people around me lacked the motivation to boost their own economic situation, choosing to not further their education nor pursue avenues of self-improvement.”
- Masaki’s Mongolian Grill
Eric and Jeni Masaki had a business problem—albeit a good one—their Kyoto Japanese Restaurant was so popular, the owners had a hard time meeting customer demand. After a few years of running this successful business, the Masakis decided to expand, thanks to a loan from CAMEO member Arcata Economic Development Corporation.
- Masaki’s Mongolian Grill