2.4 Veteran-Owned Businesses Across the Country Celebrated During National Veterans Small Business Week

Across the nation, approximately 2.4 small businesses are owned by Veterans–that means that 1 in 10 small businesses are owned and operated by women and men who have served in a branch of the U.S. military*. This year, the U.S. Small Business Administration recognizes October 31st through November 4th as National Veterans Small Business Week. This year, the events of the week will focus on the resilience and strength of veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs and business owners.  

At California Capital Financial Development Corporation, we are proud to work with Veteran business owners and entrepreneurs to ensure that they can access the resources and opportunities to build thriving Veteran-Owned Businesses.  

Over the years, we have helped many Veterans obtain certifications; pursue, bid and perform on government contracts; and leverage the skills and resilience learned during their time serving the country to succeed in various industries. The stories we are honored to share are strong examples of the unique qualities that Veterans bring to their entrepreneurial journeys.  

Antronette Robinson, Maestro Coffee House  

Antronette Robinson is a Veteran of the United States Army, where she served as a critical care nurse for 12 years. In 2018, Antronette was inspired to open a café space that would allow her to give back to her community. After opening Maestro Coffee House in July of 2019, Antronette became certified as a Service-Disabled Veteran business owner, and through the entirety of her business journey, she has returned to her training in the Army for guidance.  

“I attribute my confidence as a business owner to the leadership courses I took during my time in the military, and my abilities as a manager to my experience as a platoon leader,” she explains, adding that her time in the Army also made her more resilient and determined as a business owner, equipping her to think outside the box. 

David Ramil, Pivotal Adaptive Services  

David Ramil is a certified Service Disabled Veteran, who worked with the California Capital Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) to learn how to pursue, bid on, and successfully perform on government contracts.   In early 2019, David was awarded a contract with California American Water and was selected to participate in their Mentor Protégé Program.  

 

 

 

 

Mack Thomas, MacQue’s BBQ 

Mack Thomas is a father, a Disabled United States Marine Corps Veteran, a Black business owner—and someone who knows good barbecue. Over the past 30 years, The Thomas family have learned the ins and outs of the business and grown MacQue’s Barbecue into a staple of the Sacramento area. To continue growing, Mack began envisioning the possibility of selling MacQue’s sauces to military bases across the country.  

“I knew there were opportunities to sell to mess halls and commissaries on military bases from my time in the Marine Corps,” Mack says. “So I was interested in government contracts, but I wasn’t sure how to get in.”  

 In search of guidance on navigating the procurement process, Mack turned to California Capital’s Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC). Working with a PTAC counselor, Mack has been able to take the first steps to bidding on and securing government contracts. MacQue’s Barbecue has become certified with the Systems for Award Management (SAM), a necessity for any business hoping to sell their goods or services to the Federal Government. With that foundation laid, Mack is now focused on recertifying his Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise (DVBE) status, which will allow him to take advantage of programs that cater specifically to veteran-owned small businesses. 

Constance Agee, Agee Fashion Institute  

Constance Agee’s entrepreneurial journey began when she was 18 years old, serving in the Air Force. After she chose to sew her organizational patches onto her uniform herself rather than use the base’s alteration shop, she began offering the service to others on base. This began a long career in sewn products, and led her to establish Agee Fashion Institute, where she creates pathways to entrepreneurship through education in both high fashion and industrial sewn products.  

Over the past few years, Constance has offered a Sewn Products Training series through the California Capital Women’s Business Center that has led to multiple business starts.  

*Source: https://www.military.com/veteran-jobs/largest-ever-study-veteran-businesses-and-their-owners-needs-your-help.html 

Michelle Honath Brings Free-Spirited Fashion to Sacramento With Opening of Wildflower Daydreams Clothing Boutique Permanent Storefront

From a young age, Michelle Honath has understood that clothes are more than just what we wear: they show the world who we are. The philosophy that personal style can function as a reflection of our values, ambitions, and quirks has informed much of Michelle’s career. After graduating from Cal Poly Pomona with a degree in Fashion Merchandising, Michelle worked in product development for several multinational apparel brands. Inspired by the ethos of surf brands like Roxy and Billabong that empowered buyers to express their love for the outdoors, she took her knowledge of the fashion industry and set out on her own entrepreneurial journey. With Wildflower Daydreams, Michelle curates a collection of whimsical, Bohemian attire with the goal of helping customers embrace their free-spirited side. Now, with a loan from California Capital, Michelle is poised to make a greater impact in the Sacramento community with a new permanent retail location, opening next weekend.  

AN UNPLANNED ADVENTURE  

Even with Michelle’s thorough knowledge of the fashion industry, launching a small business has been a process of adjustment and resilience. In fact, Wildflower Daydreams is the second iteration of Michelle’s entrepreneurial vision. Before starting the boutique, Michelle had a t-shirt brand that she ended up discontinuing–but the experience was invaluable for her as a business owner.  

“With my first business, I learned how to set up a business checking account, file an LLC, use QuickBooks, so many of the business basics,” explains Michelle, adding that some of the lessons were more philosophical. “I realized that it’s okay if you fail, and you won’t be perfect your first time. Everyone can be better, but just go out and do it!”   

With this positive mindset, Michelle regrouped and launched Wildflower Daydreams, after reflecting on her goals as a business owner. She knew that, more than just selling clothes, she sought to connect with people.  

“I started this boutique to help women feel great and find clothing that fits with their style,” she says. “We get dressed in the morning and the outfit can help you conquer the world–when you look great, you walk differently. It keeps me going when people discover my brand and say ‘Wow, this is me’.”  

INVESTING IN HER VISION 
 

Michelle has been strategic in achieving her mission of helping women express themselves through fashion. Taking the lessons she learned with her first business, and combining it with her insight into product sourcing and development, Michelle launched an online store. She built up her inventory slowly, paying up front for the merchandise, and continued building her brand through a growing social media presence. To engage even more with her clientele, Michelle began attending fairs and small business pop-up events throughout Sacramento–and the “omni-channel” experience has been key.  

“In person, I can help my clients find the right piece for them, and they can get a better sense of the experience we offer.”    

After building up a strong following, Michelle was ready to establish a permanent presence in the Sacramento community in the form of a brick-and-mortar storefront. To fund the expansion, Michelle knew she would need to move away from bootstrapping her inventory purchases and make a larger investment. After securing a lease for a location in Midtown, Sacramento, Michelle worked with the California Capital Lending Center and was approved for a loan to put towards inventory and working capital expenses.  

“I started learning that you can go as far as you want without investing, but once you invest, it helps you grow faster. It adds fuel to the fire of the direction you’re already going,” explains Michelle who also saw the loan application process as a learning opportunity. “Going through the loan process helped me solidify where I’m going with my business. I had to do my financial projections, which was really helpful for taking stock of where I was, and using a critical approach to plan for the future.”  

CELEBRATING NEW BEGINNINGS 

Michelle is set to celebrate the grand opening of the Wildflower Daydreams Clothing Boutique on October 15. While this step on Michelle’s business journey comes after years in the fashion industry, it is in many ways just the beginning. Nestled in the heart of Midtown, at 815 16th Street, Michelle is hopeful that the storefront has a future as a versatile community space. In addition to connecting with her customers on a daily basis, Michelle is looking forward to opening up her shop for regular events, pop-ups featuring other local businesses, and other opportunities for gathering. With Wildflower Daydreams, Sacramento’s fashion-forward adventurers have found a new home.  

The Grand Opening event for Wildflower Daydreams will take place on Saturday, October 15 and Sunday, October 16 from 10am to 6pm. Visit them during the weekend at 815 16th Street in Sacramento for a free gift with purchase.  Stay up to date on new product offerings by following @shopwildflowerdaydreams on Instagram.  

“The art is the core of my business”: How Glass House Garden Founder Brittney Hoffman Sees Her Business as a Form of Self-Expression

In the spring of 2020, Brittney Hoffman felt that something was missing. As a school counselor, the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic meant a shift to remote work, and less connection with the students she was used to seeing every day. To stay grounded, Brittney began to channel her energy into gardening, growing flowers, and learning new artistic skills, including creating planters in custom designs. Her friends took notice of the unique personality that Brittney brought to her creations, and began purchasing planters and dried floral arrangements. Soon, Brittney had a steady stream of orders keeping her busy.  While maintaining her day job, Brittney made her hobby official and launched Glass House Garden, building a brand that includes custom orders, workshops and pop-ups, and events. As her business has taken on a life of its own, Brittney has turned to the Women’s Business Center for guidance on managing her business growth, and taking an analytical approach to the not-so-artistic elements of business ownership.

A Quick Start

Soon after establishing Glass House Garden, Brittney was invited to a small business pop-up at The Creative Space, which introduced her to a new clientele. From there, Glass House Garden’s growth has been entirely organic.  

“All of my marketing was word of mouth,” explains Brittney. “My friends would share what they bought, and people took notice.” 

Of course, Brittney’s designs are made to be noticed. With planters that range in shape from elephants and puckered lips to “sassy booties”, the pieces go beyond simple functionality to become a form of self-expression.  

“I just want it to be fun,” says Brittney, who admits that she started creating her own planters after being unable to find pre-made ones in her price range. “At first, I wanted everything in neutral tones and shapes, but once I started adding in the fun stuff, it brought everything together. I wanted it to be eye catching.” 

Seeking Guidance

In fact, Brittney’s offerings caught more eyes than she was prepared for at first. Between orders, pop-up invitations, and requests to host workshops where participants decorate and fill their own planters, Glass House Garden picked up momentum quickly. As a first-time entrepreneur, and the only one in her circle of family and friends, Brittney rode the wave of demand without a clear plan or guidance on managing the technical side of her business.   


On a particularly challenging day, Brittney knew that she needed to take a step back and reflect on the fundamentals of her business–but she was not sure where to start.  She posted on social media asking if anyone knew of resources to help small businesses grow, and a friend sent her a link to the California Capital Women’s Business Center 

After registering for services, Brittney was matched with business counselor Prashante Bailey, and the puzzle pieces began to fit together. Working with Prashante, Brittney raised her prices, reflected on her business plan, and built strategies for setting boundaries with clients.  

“I’m so glad that I sought out support despite those days that I just wanted to let go [of the business],” says Brittney, who describes her approach business as ever-evolving. “Working through those moments and finding the growth in them is not easy, but it’s something we have to do.”   

Back to Basics

Continuing to grow in her entrepreneurship, Brittney has been focused on learning the ins and outs of business financials–tasks that, she admits, she is not naturally inclined to. With Prashante’s guidance, Brittney has begun learning integrated payment and management systems like QuickBooks and Salesforce, and tracking her cash flow.  

I have beautiful, creative chaos going on at my house; the art is the core of my business. Tracking income, taxes, and finances is my biggest hurdle, and it’s the most important aspect in any business. I’ve grown a lot in this area, and I have a lot of growing left to do.”  

Feeling more in control of the less intuitive aspects to her business has enabled her to lean into her creative side, and bring new verve to the enterprise. As she has laid the foundations for a well-run, high-potential business, Brittney has been able take on new opportunities for in-person workshops and event, and focus on expanding her product line.  

Maintaining a Growth Mindset

In the near future, Brittney hopes to create opportunities to merge her business with her passion for working with students. The school where she continues to work as a counselor is in a historically disadvantaged area, and Brittney encounters many students she knows would benefit from the opportunity to learn about business ownership.  This pairing would be a natural fit, as Brittney’s philosophy towards her business embodies the growth mindset that she encourages her students to adopt.    

“I used to sit in my mistakes in a negative frame of mind, but now I know that I can feel bad about something that’s happened, but I have to move out of that space much quicker,” explains Brittney, reflecting on how her concept of herself as a business owner continues to shift. “Mistakes always happen, but growing from that and knowing that it doesn’t have to be the end is what matters.”  

With Mindy’s Kitchen, Melissa Muganzo Murphy Shares Her Healing Journey and Seeks to Make Nutritious, Plant-Based Food Accessible to Underserved Populations

When Melissa Muganzo Murphy (she/they/sis) reflects on her entrepreneurial journey, a common thread appears: advocacy for Black and Brown communities, driven by creativity. Growing up around artistry and music, Melissa learned early that her talents could provide her not only an income, but a platform to uplift those around her. With the continued mission of supporting Black dreams and leading as an example that Black Queer people can be successful, Melissa’s next entrepreneurial endeavor stems from a years-long battle with fibroids, and the holistic lifestyle changes that helped her manage the condition when traditional medicine failed.

In addition to releasing a documentary on her health journey and the medical oppression of marginalized groups, Melissa is working with the California Capital Women’s Business Center to launch Mindy’s Kitchen, a vegan, on-the-go salad line designed to be accessible to Black and Brown communities with less access to fresh, nutritious food.

Before she was an entrepreneur and activist, Melissa was a performer. Growing up with a mother who was the lead singer of a traveling Gospel group, she caught on early to the power of artistic expression. “I have always been this creative soul, and I learned early that you can get paid for your talents,” she explains. “If I can hum and figure out melodies and make money, or do hair and get paid for it, or choregraph a piece and get me and my friends paid, how can I maximize this?”

“I can’t let Black dreams die.” 

Throughout her undergraduate and graduate education at UC Davis and Sacramento State, respectively, Melissa applied her singing, dancing, and choreography skills to make an impact. As a graduate student, while singing, acting, and doing voiceover work on the side, Melissa connected with undergraduates through her jobs on campus in housing, career advising, and LGBTQ leadership. Seeing the challenges that graduating seniors faced, Melissa found an innovative way to support Black college graduates: in addition to inviting them to the creative communities she fostered, she launched Muganzo Investments, a scholarship fund through which she provided microgrants to soon-to-be graduates that financed major milestones such as registration for the LSAT, plane tickets to medical school interviews, or filing for an LLC.

“People think you have everything figured out after you graduate, but really, you’re the most insecure, the most in debt, and the most confused at that point in your life,” says Melissa, who was determined to ensure the success of Black students beyond their time at the university. “I realized that the barriers to success of Black graduates is much more than a money issue–it’s a systemic issue, and for me it was an ‘I can’t let Black dreams die’ issue.”

Healing and Advocacy 

Since earning her Master of Arts and leaving Sacramento State, Melissa’s instinct to turn her artistry and experiences into vehicles for empowerment and social justice has only grown. While earning her degrees, Melissa had been living with fibroids, uterine growths that can cause severe pain, weight fluctuation, abdominal pain, and abnormal menstruation.

When first diagnosed with the condition at the age of 23, after having her symptoms ignored, Melissa sought a hysterectomy. She was denied–but the experience was a turning point.

After encountering firsthand the ways that traditional medicine can contribute to marginalization, Melissa turned to a family friend, a Black nurse practitioner named Susan, who understood the obstacles to getting care that Black individuals face. To begin addressing the condition, Susan suggested that Melissa go vegan. She gave it a chance, and by changing her diet, Melissa healed her fibroids, and reversed her symptoms. “I became obsessed with plant-based eating, back when vegan food still tasted like grass,” jokes Melissa. She was determined to share the transformational potential of vegan eating, particularly with Black and Brown communities for whom access to plant-based whole foods is marginalized based on histories of redlining and segregation.

With this, the idea for Mindy’s Kitchen was born. Named for her mother, Melissa envisioned a brand that would make affordable, robust, fully vegan meals available to Black and Brown communities. Before working full time to put that vision into action, however, Melissa had other voices to uplift: fellow survivors of fibroids, who shared her experiences of racial medical malpractice while seeking treatment.

Sharing an All-Too-Common Story

In 2018, Melissa combined her entrepreneurial spirit, background in entertaining, and commitment to advancing Black dreams to found Muganzo Entertainment,  Sacramento’s first Black/Queer production company. Leading a 100% Black team, comprised in part of 20 production interns, Melissa filmed, produced, and released the company’s inaugural feature-length documentary: The Big Hysto.

The documentary explores and reveals the exploitation, experimentation, and oppression experienced by Black, Brown, and LGBTQ individuals within the American healthcare system. The film, which premiered in Sacramento in July and has screenings across California, shares stories of real survivors of fibroids and other uterine conditions, and is a natural extension of Melissa’s desire to build a creative career while empowering marginalized identities. “[The premiere] was a full circle moment,” she explains, “It has all been part of an interconnected journey about wanting to be healthy and pursue my own dream.” With the film released and gaining notoriety, Melissa has returned her focus to addressing another aspect of Black and Brown health: food access. 

Back to the Cutting Board

Working with Women’s Business Center counselor, Prashante Bailey, Melissa has begun laying the groundwork for launching Mindy’s Kitchen as a line of on-the-go, vegan salads. “A part of health and wellness and sustaining our life is people recognizing that our internal is more important than external,” says Melissa, who sees this new endeavor as part of food justice work already being undertaken in Northern California. “And the only way for our external to be well is to feed good things into our bodies.” Ultimately, Melissa’s vision with Mindy’s Kitchen is to increase longevity by making it easy for people to opt for fresh fruits and vegetables over highly processed convenience foods.

To do that, she knows that every element of the business must be strategic and intentional. With Prashante’s guidance, Melissa developed a goal to sell Mindy’s Kitchen products in locations that

historically marginalized communities have come to rely on for their food shopping, and don’t feel intimidated entering: gas stations, convenience stores, and big box retailers. “Everybody’s going to the gas station. So I’m asking, how do I get in there, and get people to start saying, ‘Have you tasted Mindy’s?’”

As Melissa continues to research the intricacies of sourcing, manufacturing, and contracting, Prashante has been a partner in brainstorming solutions to obstacles, and given her the right questions to ask to find the right answers. “I really am excited about this journey and one thing I’m committed to now, is the reality that some of these grand ideas are slow burns,” says Melissa. “They start with a thought and then you put in the work.”

With a goal of keeping as much as possible of the company’s operation and partnerships Black-led, Melissa is optimistic about Sacramento as the right place to launch. She is currently applying for the Alchemist Community Development Corporation’s Microenterprise Kitchen training program, and was inspired to see that most of the other potential participants were Black entrepreneurs.

Through all of these efforts, Melissa remains focused on continuing her filmmaking work, serving the community through positions on the Sacramento Rainbow Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and Visit Sacramento LGBTQ Advisory Committee, and building a new legacy through Mindy’s Kitchen.

“I’m riding the journey of the slow burn–I’m being intentional with my timeline, while also not taking time for granted.”

For screenings of The Big Hysto, visit https://www.muganzoentertainment.com/

California Capital Women’s Business Center helps bring digital transformation to diverse small businesses in Northern California with Verizon Small Business Digital Ready

In partnership with Next Street and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), Verizon Small Business Digital Ready aims to focus on women- and minority-owned businesses in under-resourced communities 

The online curriculum will provide resources and in-depth support – including coaching, networking and incentives 

Sacramento, California—July 14, 2022—Today, California Capital Women’s Business Center (WBC) announced its plan to help bring a new online curriculum to small businesses across Northern California: Verizon Small Business Digital Ready. In partnership with Next Street and LISC, the Verizon Small Business Digital Ready online curriculum is designed to give small businesses the tools they need to thrive in today’s digital economy, including access to personalized learning plans, coaching from experts and networking opportunities with diverse, industry-specific businesses.   

More than 100,000 small businesses closed due to the pandemic, with a disproportionate impact on Black and Lantinx-owned small businesses. Verizon Small Business Digital Ready offers businesses support, aiming to enable digital readiness and drive digital transformation through a customized curriculum that accounts for industry, size and interests. The California Capital WBC is proud to be working with Verizon to reach those businesses most in need of support within Northern California.  

Developed by small businesses, Verizon Small Business Digital Ready provides a personalized experience – providing resources, networking and coaching tailored to a small business’s specific needs. The program can help small businesses move forward in four ways: 

  • Personalized Learning 

Content presented by small businesses through brief, information-packed lessons small businesses can use right away.  

  • Expert Coaching 

Guidance from business experts across marketing, business planning, legal, and more.  

  • Peer Networking 

Connections to other small businesses to build their networks. 

  • Incentives 

A marketplace of tools, solutions, products and services that can help small businesses. Participants will also be eligible to apply for grant funding exclusive to users of Verizon Small Business Digital Ready.1 

To register and access, click here. 

This initiative is one part of Verizon’s commitment to providing one million small businesses with digital tools and resources by 2030 and is central to Verizon’s responsible business plan, Citizen Verizon, for economic, environmental and social advancement. Launched in 2020 to move the world forward for all, Citizen Verizon leverages technology, innovation and resources to address the world’s most pressing issues across digital inclusion, climate protection and human prosperity. As part of Citizen Verizon, Verizon plans to exceed $3 billion in its responsible business investment from 2020-2025 to continue helping vulnerable communities bridge the digital divide and prepare for the digital economy of the future.  

ABOUT VERIZON 

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ) was formed on June 30, 2000 and is one of the world’s leading providers of technology, communications, information and entertainment products and services. Headquartered in New York City and with a presence around the world, Verizon generated revenues of $128.3 billion in 2020. The company offers data, video and voice services and solutions on its award-winning networks and platforms, delivering on customers’ demand for mobility, reliable network connectivity, security and control.

How a Vision for a Vibrant Creative Economy Led Two Filmmakers to Open a Unique Creator Space in Sacramento With Funding from California Capital

May  31, 2022 | When Kellen Lor met Pedro Garcia in 2017, he wasn’t looking for a business partner. They both happened to be working on a music video for a mutual friend, and Kellen immediately admired Pedro’s skill behind the camera. Looking for tips on how to expand his filmmaking beyond self-education on YouTube, Kellen sought to pick Pedro’s brain. The pair quickly realized that their ambitions, artistic vision, and work ethic were aligned, and began creating together. The same year, they launched Hidden Temple Media, a film production house.  Now, with financing from California Capital, they’ve launched Imported Studios, a studio space with ready-made sets available for rent by fellow filmmakers–and they’re set to become key players in expanding opportunities for Sacramento’s diverse community of creators.   

Sacramento filmmakers

Pedro (L) and Kellen (R) worked at ABC 10 before launching their first business. Photo: Francisco Kuhl.

To be sure, the pair have come a long way in the past five years. “The first few years, we were working minimum 14-hour days,” explains Pedro who, along with Kellen, was working full time for ABC10 while establishing Hidden Temple. “The basic idea was that we were two hardworking individuals who had a similar goal, and could put our resources together and rely on sweat equity.” Through collaboration with local artists they trusted, they stayed focused and gained momentum.  

Hidden Temple’s capacity exponentially increased through a mentor partnership with media firm FutureNow, and Kellen and Pedro were able to hire two employees, maintain a cadre of contractors, focus on commercial and documentary work, and bring in steady money.   

Problem Solving, Business Growth

At this point, looking to decrease their workload while increasing capacity, the founders were ready to bring Hidden Temple into a larger, more established studio space. “We were trying to solve a problem, and we started a business,” laughs Pedro.  

The idea for Imported Studios was born at this juncture, and grew to fit within a goal shared by individuals and institutions across the city: developing and retaining Sacramento’s creative workforce.  

A lot of the problems we saw with creatives in Sacramento were with finding controlled locations [for filming],” explains Kellen. “You can get a short-term rental home, but once you start bringing in big lights and cameras, the owners don’t like it.”  

Expanding Sacramento’s Creative Capacity

As experienced Sacramento filmmakers, the pair knew that most creators in the area were traveling to Los Angeles to solve this problem by renting studios that included ready-made and customizable film sets.  

sacramento filmmakers

“The Greenery” set at Imported Studios.

“A lot of production studios in Sacramento only offer green screen infinity (or cyclorama) walls, which are great. But we didn’t want to blend in with the competition,” says Kellen. “We wanted to bring the L.A. demand up here and open a space for creatives to use it and bring money to Sacramento as well.”  

Ultimately, these aspirations defined what Imported Studios would offer. To stand out from other local studios, this new space would feature 24-hour availability to accommodate varied schedules; fully staged, 3-walled sets that filmmakers can customize to fit their vision; and a sound-dampened, warehouse location to allow creators to use sound and other special effects worry free.  

Accessing Capital

After translating their ideas into an actionable business plan, the search for financing began. In need of seed capital to build sets, secure a lease, and launch, Pedro and Kellen applied for funding through several banks–but because Imported Studios was a startup, traditional lenders were hesitant to take them on. That’s when their mentor at FutureNow suggested looking into non-traditional funding options, and they turned to California Capital.

Imported Studios launch event. Photo: Francisco Kuhl.

The loan application process, reflects Pedro, put the endeavor into perspective. “Getting financing was the biggest obstacle we’ve overcome as entrepreneurs,” he says, recalling the challenges the business partners faced during the early days of Hidden Temple. “We had multiple jobs back then, but we didn’t have as much weight on our shoulders, so failure wasn’t as scary. Now we have this other business so it’s higher stakes.”  

Partnerships and Service

Imported Studios ultimately received financing through the California Capital Lending Center, and opened their doors in April of 2022. They plan to begin expanding their clientele through events and workshops designed to get creatives in the door–both to see what the studio has to offer, and to dream up their own uses for the space. Beyond serving their own business interests, Kellen and Pedro want to see the space become a hub for building the Sacramento area’s creative workforce.   

“Sacramento hasn’t been known for media production. We want to change the narrative and let people know that we have experienced creators,” says Kellen. To have that impact, building connections with leaders will be crucial.  

sacramento filmmakers

Kellen and Pedro plan to use the warehouse space for workshops & trainings.

They plan to collaborate with the film program at Sacramento State to bring students in for free or discounted training and workshops, and they’ve met with the City’s official film office, Sacramento Film + Media, who is keenly interested in developing a strong contingent of local filmmakers. Through these partnerships, Imported Studios is poised to play a key role in establishing Sacramento as a renowned location for artists of all stripes to find success.  

California Capital Meets With Delegation of Kosovo National Assembly Members to Discuss Women’s Economic Participation

May 17, 2022 | This morning, California Capital Financial Development Corporation met a delegation of representatives from the National Assembly of Kosovo for a conversation on expansion of women’s economic participation and business development models. The delegation, whose trip was made possible through the Open World program of the Congressional Office for International Leadership and Global Ties Sacramento, consisted of Members of Parliament Ms. Tinka Kurti and Mr. Enis Kervan. Representatives of the Women’s Business Center (WBC) and Lending Center provided insight into how California Capital addresses pressing local and universal business issues.

“Supporting microbusinesses can look different across cultures,” explains Deborah Lowe Muramoto, President of California Capital. “But we learned that the need for more people–particularly women and ethnic minorities–to successfully enter the workforce is common between Kosovo and California.”

In-Depth Discussion

With the issue areas of particular importance to the visiting Members of Parliament including gender equality, microbusiness, and minority rights, the conversation focused on how California Capital’s technical assistance and lending programs are designed to serve and grow women- and minority-owned businesses.

Knowledge sharing included best practices for reaching specific communities with resources, and WBC Director, Sophia Kanaan, provided insight into specific programs–such as Licensed to Care–that provide culturally competent training to empower women to open and operate businesses. For their part, the representatives of the delegation, who were joined by a bicultural/lingual facilitator and an interpreter, shared context of the types of businesses that women in Kosovo typically own, and the ways in which the government supports microbusinesses in the country.

“We were honored to host this meeting with representatives from the National Assembly of Kosovo,” says Lowe Muramoto. “Any opportunity to share information and learn from others is one we are grateful to accept.”

Creating Global Ties

It is clear that, while systems and economies may differ, entrepreneurship is an important area of opportunity for populations around the world, and conversations like today’s are crucial to expanding the positive impact of business ownership.

More than 30,000 current and future leaders from post-Soviet era countries have participated in the Open World program. Open World offers one of the most effective U.S. exchange programs to promote mutually beneficial options for depolarized engagement between future national leaders. It is a unique but no less powerful tool for Congress to engage legislatures in critical regions of the world.

Global Ties Sacramento, a Division of World Trade Center Northern California

Global Ties Sacramento influences positive global change and fosters mutual understanding through the facilitation of professional, cultural, and educational exchanges. Connecting international leaders with the Greater Sacramento Region, they provide opportunities for people from around the globe to engage in meaningful dialogue, build relationships, and create a more peaceful world. Global Ties Sacramento is a division of World Trade Center Northern California, and a member of the Global Ties U.S. network. Global Ties Sacramento is the only organization of its kind in the Greater Sacramento and Central Valley regions. On an annual basis, Global Ties Sacramento hosts over 400 international visitors, contributing over $550,000 to the local economy through hotel stays, dining expenditures, and participation in cultural activities. In addition to the economic impact, their work expands cultural fluency, showcases global perspectives, breaks down barriers, and provides citizen diplomats the opportunity to shape and advance foreign policy goals.

COIL, a Support Agency of the Congress

Founded in 1999 by Congress, the Congressional Office for International Leadership (formerly known as the Open World Leadership Center) maintains a vast network of more than 30,000 alumni in strategic countries including Russia, Ukraine, and others in the Balkans, Caucasus, Central Asia and Eastern Europe. It’s Open World program supports legislative diplomacy efforts for Members of Congress by conducting exchanges that establish authentic communication and enduring relations that are maintained through its extensive alumni network. Program participants are provided with exposure to the work of Congress, American politics, accountable governance, and volunteerism while being home hosted by American families. To learn more about the Open World program, please visit https://www.openworld.gov/.

iBank Report: More than 10,000 Jobs Created or Preserved at California Small Businesses through COVID-19 Micro Loan Guarantees

May 10, 2022 | Today, the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank (IBank) celebrated a new COVID-relief milestone — more than 10,000 jobs have been created or preserved for Californians operating or working at small businesses throughout the state since April of 2020.

Created through a $50 million investment by Governor Newsom, IBank’s COVID-19 Micro Loan Guarantee initiative gives lenders the confidence they need to lend to small- and microbusinesses that otherwise struggle to access capital at a time when they need it most.

“Creating or retaining ten thousand jobs at the smallest of California’s small businesses is significant,” said IBank Executive Director Scott Wu. “IBank’s COVID-19 Micro Loan Guarantee initiative is not only helping small businesses keep the lights on and the doors open, it’s helping the owners and employees persevere through a dark and difficult time and emerge on the other side of the pandemic.”

Nonprofit Partnership

 

In partnership with California’s nonprofit Financial Development Corporations and lenders statewide, IBank — housed within the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development — to date enabled California’s smallest businesses to access more than $92 million in approved loans.

“These are the moments you feel like your work matters; like you’re making a difference. Especially when you consider these businesses average five or fewer employees,” said Megan Hodapp, manager of IBank’s Small Business Finance Center. “IBank couldn’t do it without our Financial Development Corporation partners and the lenders who use our loan guarantees. They make all our work possible.”

Broad, inclusive outreach, largely aided by California’s mission-driven, community development financial institutions (CDFIs) ensured expanded access to the program, including access for underserved populations and underserved communities. Approximately 86% of the loan guarantees are serving small businesses owned by females or minorities or that are located in low- to moderate-income areas.

IBank’s loan guarantee programs have been incredibly successful with low rates of default, a testimony to the efficacy of the program. As a result, lenders are building confidence in small businesses’ ability to pay back loans that help those businesses start, grow, and thrive.

Capital Region Small Business Week Returns in May, Bringing Business Networking to Sacramento

Today, California Capital Financial Development Corporation (FDC) announced their participation as planners and hosts of Capital Region Small Business Week 2022, to take place May 2-7. Coinciding with National Small Business Week, Capital Region Small Business Week is the local series of educational, networking and celebratory events across the capital region.  With a week of virtual and in-person offerings, this year marks the first time the event has been held in full form since before the covid-19 pandemic.  

“The small business owners of Greater Sacramento have been an incredible force during the ongoing pandemic,” says California Capital Women’s Business Center (WBC) Director, Sophia Kanaan. “In addition to honoring their impact and resilience, our hope with these events is to connect them to local experts and resources to help them thrive and grow.”  

Sharing expertise

Indeed, the line-up of speakers reflects the vast knowledge and experience of the capital region’s small business ecosystem: The events of Capital Region Small Business Week will offer a diversity of perspectives on crucial small business topics–from taxes and accessing capital, to technological innovation and international business–from representatives of government agencies, higher education, startup networks and civil society.  

In addition to educational events, Capital Region Small Business Week focuses on building connections within the region’s business landscape. With in-person mixers and matchmaking events, the week will put small business owners in contact with business development leaders to share perspectives and find opportunities for partnership.

Building networks in Sacramento

“When entrepreneurs know that they’re admired and supported, and know how to take advantage of that support, their ideas thrive. And that effect ripples through their communities,” continues Ms. Kanaan, who will lead the California Capital WBC team in hosting a May Mixer to close out the week on Friday, May 7.  Click here to view the full schedule of events. 

These events align with the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) National Small Business Week, which the SBA has designated for more than 50 years to recognize the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Turner & Turner Electric Seizes Contract Opportunities and Creates Jobs With Loan from California Capital

Turner & Turner Electric

March 24, 2022 | As a licensed general contractor and certified journeyman electrician, Ronald Turner serves the Stockton area with Turner & Turner Electric, Inc, which he co-owns with his wife, Jehnell Livingston-Turner. After spending several years in Louisiana, where he applied his contracting skills to help rebuild from the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina, Ronald returned to California. He soon realized that, because of the Great Recession, residential and commercial contracting jobs would not provide steady business. Getting certified to bid on government contracts, particularly with the Department of Transportation, was the key to continue operating Turner & Turner Electric: In addition to the prospect of large projects, as a veteran, Ronald was eligible to certify Turner & Turner Electric as a Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise and a Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Business, which opens up unique resources and set-aside government contracts. 

Finding new opportunities

After attending a seminar hosted by Norcal PTAC where they learned about California Capital FDC’s suite of business services, Jehnell began working with Women’s Business Center counselor, Charles Thomas. Charles helped Jehnell write an actionable business plan based off of a capability statement she had created, but it was not until several years later that the opportunity to apply for a loan through the California Capital Lending Center came up. As part of the Caltrain Modernization Early Investment Program, Caltrain’s program to electrify their transportation operations, Turner & Turner Electric secured a contract to install poles and light fixtures at the service’s electric power stations. With this sizeable job, a bid submitted for a second contract, and plans to apply for a third, an infusion of working capital would make the growth more manageable. 

Capital infusion creates jobs

 “I had never considered getting a loan,” explains Jehnell, who manages the operations and administration of Turner & Turner Electric. “But I was working with Charles and Daisy [Po’oi, Lending Center Portfolio Manager], and they both encouraged me to try, just try and see what happens.” Jehnell and Ronald decided to apply for a loan, which proved to be an enlightening process. Being loan-ready meant considering details of their business that they hadn’t before, such as the importance of keyman insurance coverage. “When small business owners come from Corporate America, like I did, there are many details [of business ownership] that they don’t think about because they’re the employee,” says Jehnell, emphasizing the key role that free information sessions offered by lenders play in making capital accessible. “A lot of times, people don’t take advantage of free services in their community to know what’s out there.” 

Turner & Turner Electric was approved for a loan, made possible through the Wells Fargo Open for Business Grant, in August of 2021–and the impact has had a ripple effect on their community. With part of the loan going towards payroll expenses, Ronald and Jehnell hired three new employees, and their support has been crucial to navigating the fast-paced construction industry.  With this support, and continued guidance from their WBC counselor, Turner & Turner Electric is performing on their contracts, and keeping more opportunities in mind.