FORMER MICROFINANCE CLIENTS GIVE BACK TO THE COMMUNITY
— Successful entrepreneurs donate time and money to Accion to help other local entrepreneurs —
Cesar Gonzalez, owner and head chef of Mama Testa Taqueria in Hillcrest as well as a successful small business owner and former Accion client, will join Accion San Diego to host a fundraising day on Tuesday, May 22 in celebration of National Small Business Week. Mama Testa Taqueria will donate 20 percent of all sales from the day to Accion San Diego, a nonprofit micro-lender offering business loans from $300 to $35,000 to directly assist other local entrepreneurs with loan capital and business assistance.
Gonzalez opened his business eight years ago with the dream of providing authentic regional Mexican cuisine to hungry San Diegans. From the beginning, the restaurant was a challenge with continual requests for Americanized versions of Mexican food such as “yellow cheese and California burritos.” Gonzales realized that he needed to increase his customer base and sought capital for advertising. However, being a fairly new business owner, Gonzales found it difficult to secure financing from traditional sources and turned to Accion San Diego for help.
Accion San Diego provided a $10,000 loan for Gonzalez in November 2006, which was primarily used for marketing and advertising purposes. The loan enabled him to hire five additional employees and dramatically increase awareness for his restaurant to the point where he was eventually featured on Food Network’s “Throwdown! with Bobby Flay.” After fully paying off his loan in February 2011, Gonzalez is now giving back to the local small business community.
“We are so proud of Cesar’s success and the Accion loan empowered him to grow his business to a point where he can now give back to other fellow entrepreneurs,” said Elizabeth Schott, Accion’s Executive Director. “Cesar’s story is a great example of how microfinance provides entrepreneurs the opportunity to start or grow their businesses and create employment for others.”
Jeff Harding, another former Accion client and successful entrepreneur, was elected onto Accion San Diego’s board of directors in May.
“He is the first former client to serve on the board of directors in the organization’s 18-year history,” says Gordon Boerner, Accion’s board chair. “The entire board and Jeff are very excited about the opportunity to have his perspective as a previous Accion client and his business expertise at the board level which will help Accion’s program best understand the needs of other local small business owners.
Harding will serve a three-year term on the Accion board and will also sit on the board’s marketing and fundraising committee.
Harding is the founder and owner of Recycle San Diego, an electronic waste collection and recycling facility based in Kearny Mesa. When it came time to expand his business, Harding was unable to secure traditional financing due to credit issues and a lack of assets. However, Accion was able to provide him a $20,000 loan to secure a warehouse and truck. He has since hired 10 employees, increased his revenues and is now located in an 11,000-square-foot drop-off and processing facility. Harding plans to expand to three more locations in El Cajon, Carlsbad and Eastlake by the end of the year.
The fundraiser at Mama Testa Taqueria will be held at 1417a University Ave., San Diego from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. One hundred percent of the money raised at the event will be used to support Accion San Diego’s microloan program.
For more information about Accion San Diego’s National Small Business Week activities, visit www.accionsandiego.org/sbw2012.html.