Success Stories

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.

Congratulations to the 2014 Faces of Entrepreneurship winners!

Previous winners

California’s Micro-business Success Stories

You can also view success stories by the following categories:

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

Faces of Entrepreneurship

2014 Success Stories

  • Ryan Farr, 4505 Meats – In 2012, Working Solutions client Ryan Farr, founder of 4505 Meats, sought advice from a Working Solutions mentor for his rapidly expanding business. Two years later, Ryan has graduated from his Working Solutions microloan, obtained conventional financing, and opened a new barbecue restaurant in San Francisco! Ryan had created a whopping 70 jobs ...
  • Max Aram & Chris Blevins, – PCR SBDC Business Advisors Martha G. Castro and Harold C. Hart-Nibbrig helped Max Aram figure out how to monetize his idea, conduct market research, develop a business plan with financial projections, incorporate the business and develop a partnership agreement once Chris Blevins came on board.
  • Irena, Silhouette Custom Design – Ten years ago Irena was eight months pregnant and fleeing her home country of Ukraine with her husband and two small children. Today, with help from Opening Doors’ Prosperity Project, Irena is a thriving entrepreneur who supports her family doing the work she loves.
  • Candance Pilgram-Simmons, All That & MORE Boutique – Pacific Coast Regional SBDC helped Candance Pilgram-Simmons restructure her business when she was ready to move to sole ownership. She almost doubled monthly sales in her first year as sole owner.
  • Rhonda Wiedenbeck, Beck’s Bakery - “I had so many ideas and concerns around starting and running my business, and my SBDC business advisor helped me to focus and prioritize them so that I could achieve great success.” -Rhonda Wiedenbeck on North Coast SBDC.
  • Jeremy LeBlanc and Chad Berkey, Tin Play – After four years of development, Jeremy and Chad were ready to launch their line of speciality bartending tools, but needed a small loan to get started. Thankfully, Accion San Diego was there to fill the gap with a $25,000 microloan.
  • Bertha Magaña, Magaña Farms – Bertha Magaña had experience as a farmworker and good credit, but struggled to find the financing she needed to support her 7 acre organic farm. California FarmLink helped her find over $70,000 in loans to expand her business, and ALBA helped get her vegetables into stores.
  • Kimberly Haines, Pampered Pet Salon & Boutique – Kimberly Haines had a solid business plan and a love of pet care, but couldn’t find the loan from a bank she needed to start her own business, CAMEO member Opening Doors stepped in with a microloan, and her pet salon opened in Novemeber 2013.
  • Torrey Douglass, Lemon Fresh Design - Torrey Douglass designs websites under the name Lemon Fresh Design, and had a stellar website, but few customers. “The business side was not my strength,” concedes Douglass, who turned to West Company’s Loyd Hambrick for help grow with her fledgling micro-business.
  • Pedro Zerpa, Fusion Peruvian Grill – An immigrant from Peru, Pedro Zerpa worked his way up from dishwasher to head chef of a San Francisco restaurant with no formal culinary education. After 15 years as a chef, Pedro was ready to strike out on his own, and opened Fusion Peruvian Grill in San Mateo. He needed a microloan to ...
  • Alfredo Garcia, Watsonville Diesel – Alfredo Garcia had twenty years of experience in diesel trucking, but needed some business development training to grow Watsonville Diesel. Thanks to the firm foundation of strategy and financial management training that CAMEO member El Pajaro CDC provided, he was able to open a second location and make progress toward becoming an international ...
  • Patty Rodriguez, SF Parking – Patty Rodriguez opened SF Parking in order to support jobs that would have otherwise been lost when her employers lost a parking contract, and continues to support job seekers in her community that would otherwise be unable to find work due to criminal histories or lack of education. She received a $25,000 microloan ...
  • Chiefo Chukwudebe, Chiefo’s Kitchen – Chiefo Chukwudebe’s small business did well at the La Cocina Street Food Festival in 2009, but wasn’t sure she could afford to return in 2011. Thankfully, Opportunity Fund was able to provide her with the $3,000 microloan she needed to return and push her business to the next level.
  • Ninette Paloma, Santa Barbara Centre for Aerial Arts - Ninette Paloma launched a successful aerial arts school and performance center after receiving self-employment training from Women’s Economic Ventures.
  • Luz Orozco, Qi Hair Salon – Luz Orozco built her own hair salon on a solid foundation thanks to the knowledge and assistance she received from Inland Empire SBDC, and created six jobs in her community.
  • Penny Baldado, Cafe Gabriela – Penny Baldado moved to the United States from the Philippines and opened her own cafe thanks to training and financial assistance from CAMEO member AnewAmerica.
  • Harvey Ledesma, Ledesma Optometry – Thanks to a $25,000 microloan from CDC Small Business Finance and business training from Inland Empire SBDC, Dr. Ledesma was able to retain five jobs, increase inventory and generate an additional $200,000 in revenue at his small optometry business.
  • Bernardo Ayala, Napa Valley Bistro – Already a successful chef, Bernardo Ayala got the technical assistance and one-on-one support he needed to open his own restaurant from Napa-Sonoma SBDC.
  • Davin Vculek and Joe Blanton, Krush Burger – Krush Burger has expanded to two brick and mortar locations plus a fleet of food trucks thanks to high-quality food, a robust social media presence, and a small business loan from CAMEO member SAFE-BIDCO.
  • Melvina Hill, Melvina Hill Consulting – After being laid off, Melvina Hill built her fledgling consulting business with a microloan from Accion San Diego and Kiva.
  • Connie Fledderjohann, Happiness Cards – Thanks to support from West Company, encore entrepreneur Connie Fledderjohann was brave enough to change her business model and launch Happiness Cards, her growing micro-business.
  • Melissa Elia, Mayssa Fragrance – Melissa Elia started working with Women’s Initiative in 1999, and today her microbusiness, Mayssa Fragrance, sells its products across the country.
  • Christy & Al Kroell, ChristyAl Plaques – Thanks to training from an SBA SCORE chapter and a timely loan from Fresno CDFI, veterans Christy and Al Kroell were able to purchase the laser engraver they needed to launch their small business.
  • Gregory King, Postcards – Gregory King had an MBA and years of experience in the corporate world, but the help he received from Pacific Coast Regional helped take Postcards, his soul food truck micro-business, from idea to reality.

More stories