Celebrating AAPI Heritage: This Month and Always

Happy Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month! As we reflect on the important impacts that Americans of Asian and Pacific Island descent have made on communities across California, we would like to take a moment to recognize the amazing members of the California Capital team that identify as Asian American and/or Pacific Islander, and share the stories of AAPI-owned businesses. 

Designated months to honor the contributions of historically underrepresented groups to American society are vital to celebration and education — but just as folks who identify with those groups work day in and day out to uplift themselves and their communities, we must remember to highlight them regularly, regardless of the month.

Meet Our Team

Our staff represents a variety of ethnicities and cultures from across Asia and the Pacific Islands, mirroring the vibrant and diverse backgrounds of the cultures we serve across California. Scroll through the gallery below to meet our team! 

Deborah Lowe Muramoto, President & CEO

May Masunaga (left), Chief Financial Officer

SiewYee Lee-Alix, Director, Sacramento Valley SBDC

Nguyen Nguyen, Sacramento Valley SBDC

Genevieve Duque, Program Coordinator, Women's Business Center

Sarah Harding, Program Manager, Women's Business Center

James Aldea, Procurement Counselor, APEX Accelerator

Michael Aguillio, Procurement Counselor, APEX Accelerator

Celebrate AAPI-Owned Businesses

According the Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, 2.9 million businesses in the United States are AAPI-owned, creating 4.9 million jobs. With these numbers, there are plenty of opportunities shop AAPI-owned year-round! In fact, some of our most inspiring success stories are of AAPI clients. Click below to read more: 

Stay in the Know: Read the Hmong Daily News

The Greater Sacramento Area has a large, strong Hmong population. In order to keep folks in the community connected to one another, and keep the broader public informed of issues important to their Hmong neighbors, Macy Yang (a Sacramento Valley SBDC business advisor) created and runs the Hmong Daily News. Start reading today to stay in the know! 

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California First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom Visits California Capital Women’s Business Center to Celebrate Women in Business and “Mom-Preneurs”

SACRAMENTO, CA | Yesterday, the California Capital Women’s Business Center (WBC) had the honor of hosting California First Partner, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, for a luncheon honoring California’s women entrepreneurs.  

Presented in partnership with the California Office of the Small Business Advocate (also known as CalOSBA, part of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development) with sponsorship from U.S. Bank, the event sought to highlight the unique contributions of women business owners to the economy and their communities.  

Women-owned businesses are vital to our communities, as women tend to lead with our values, considering not only our own bottom lines, but the success of our communities,” said the First Partner in a statement on her Instagram page following the event.  

Following remarks from WBC Director Sophia Kanaan, California State Senator Nancy Skinner, who also chairs the Legislative Women’s Caucus, and Director Tara Lynn Gray of CalOSBA, the business owners and state representatives from a variety of agencies participated in a roundtable discussion where they shared their perspectives, challenges, and hopes for the future of their business.  

The entrepreneurs in attendance have worked with the California Capital WBC to launch, sustain, and/or grow their businesses. The industries they represented showcased the diversity of California’s small business ecosystem: businesses owners joined from spaces including childcare and early childhood education, cosmetology, artisan goods, hospitality, consumer packaged goods, and more. 

“Hearing [the First Partner] speak today, validating all of our speed bumps and achievements as an entrepreneur herself, gave myself if not all of us, the little extra push we needed to keep going,” said Charone DeShazier, owner of Enorah Jewelry and one of the entrepreneurs in attendance.  

As the California Capital Women’s Business Center continues to grow their innovative training and networking programs, their clientele will continue to thrive and access new opportunities.  

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Two California Capital Clients Honored at SBA Sacramento District Small Business Awards

The sustainability of small businesses is always worth celebrating—and when that comes with an official award, all the better. On Friday, May 3rd, two small businesses that have worked with California Capital programs were honored at the 2024 SBA Sacramento District Small Business Awards, as part of National Small Business Week. The awards were presented at a luncheon ceremony in distinct categories.  

ExcelDent Dentistry, owned by Gabriela Solano and her husband Dr. Miguel Guerra, won Startup of the Year.  

From the beginning of their business journey, Gabriela has worked with Charles Thomas, a California Capital Women’s Business Center business counselor. Charles nominated ExcelDent for the award and presented the award at the ceremony. As they navigated the purchase and operation of their dental practice in Sacramento, Charles helped Gabriela and Dr. Guerra understand their finances, business planning, and permit requirements. “Charles brought a mix of professionalism and encouragement right from the start, which was exactly what I needed to get our dental office off the ground,” says Gabriela. “He guided me through all the essential resources and made sure we dotted our i’s and crossed our t’s with every agency involved.” 

Anvaya Solutions, owned by Shobha Mallarapu, was named Contractor of the Year. has worked with California Capital APEX Accelerator counselor James Aldea over the years to prepare to bid (and perform!) on government contracts, and she has grown to be a major player in the cybersecurity space.  

As entrepreneurs continue to power our local economies and communities, California Capital is proud to put their stories at the forefront and ensure they get the recognition they deserve.  

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“It Always Takes a Team”: How Patrick Bellard Found Support to Launch His Trucking Business

A typical morning for Patrick Bellard begins at 3:45: he is up, finished with his workout, and ready to take on the day’s work orders by 6.  He’ll start his shift at a hauling service, delivering materials for various construction projects including freeways and community development, attend classes in business administration at CSU Sacramento in the afternoon, and return home to spend time with his two daughters. With this ambition and dedication to providing a steady livelihood for his family, Patrick decided in late 2023 to purchase a semi-truck and trailer of his own to begin building his own construction delivery company, Timeless 500.  

With in-depth advising from Sacramento Valley Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and funding from the California Capital Direct Lending center,Patrick purchased his truck in early 2024 and has begun building his clientele operating Timeless 500.  

As Patrick recalibrated his plans for the future after a move to Sacramento from the Bay Area, his studies in business and his experience with the trucking industry led him to a vision of himself as a multi-industry entrepreneur, with a brand that incapsulates his values of hard work, empowerment, and service. He decided to start by launching his own long-haul trucking company—but he knew he would need funding to get started.  

At the recommendation of a friend, Patrick connected with Sacramento Valley SBDC for training on the technical aspects of running a business and preparing to apply for a loan. Patrick’s business advisor, Kevin Herndon, helped him write a strong business plan and realistic two-year financial projections, two documents that every business owner needs when seeking financing.  

“[Kevin] was awesome. He really helped me go through the process” says Patrick.  “I was new to it, and for a while it seemed tedious to me, but it was a great learning process for me.” 

In addition to the technical assistance, Kevin helped Patrick foster a relationship with the California Capital Direct Lending team, knowing that non-traditional financing would be a better fit for a start-up like Patrick’s. 

“I was having a hard time with conventional banks trying to get a conventional loan, so I came over to California Capital,” explains Patrick, reflecting on the importance of working with a team that believed in his vision. “Through them, they made it happen for me. They helped me make my dream come true.”  

Thanks to his perseverence, and the expertise that he tapped into at Sacramento Valley SBDC, Patrick accessed a $50,000 loan to purchase a semi-truck and cover working capital expenses to get Timeless 500 off the ground.  

As he expands his business and his story, he is quick to shout out those who helped him lay the foundations.  

“Sacramento Valley SBDC and California Capital helped me every step of the way,” he reflects, adding that the support has continued after his loan closed. “I didn’t have to do everything myself. It always takes a team.” 

While he sub-contracts with his previous employer to build his clientele, Patrick continues to dream of ways to expand the Timeless brand and provide motivation for other aspiring entrepreneurs.  

“I’m looking for sustainability in my business, and I’m also into teaching and helping people,” he says. “I’m just here to say that you can do it—I’m living proof. Stick to the prayers, work hard, make it happen.” 

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Business Ownership and Government Contracting Assistance from APEX Accelerator Helps Danishia Colbert and Her Family Thrive

For Danishia Colbert, entrepreneurship has been a path to stability and independence for her family. In 2022, after complications from childbirth resulted in her younger sister having a variety of chronic conditions that limit her ability to work a full-time job, Danishia and her husband launched Wall 2 Wall Cleaning Services. As an after-hours janitorial service specializing in office spaces and large buildings, Danishia can operate the business while keeping her day job with the State of California Department of Human Resources, and provide gainful, flexible employment for her sister and other family members.   

With her background in state work, Danishia knew that contracts with state and federal government agencies would be a way to build a sustainable business with reliable clients. Starting down this path, she turned to the California Capital APEX Accelerator to work with a counselor and learn the basics of contracting, from certifications to finding projects to bid on.  

 “I’m very resourceful, so I went to the APEX Accelerator to avoid challenges,” says Colbert, reflecting on the start of her business journey. “If I could save myself a headache, why not? That’s why I went: you don’t have to learn everything the hard way.”   

Working with Alex McCracken, her procurement counselor, Danishia did market research to determine that janitorial service would be a steady industry, wrote her capabilities statement, obtained her Woman-Owned Small Business certification, Service-Disabled Veteran certification, and join the online databases that would allow her to bid on jobs.  

Since launching in 2022, Wall 2 Wall Cleaning has won and performed on contracts with the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency (SHRA), the San Joaquin Valley Cemetery, and the California Conservation Corps. Danishia was also selected to participate in the prestigious Veterans in Procurement (VIP) program in Washington, D.C.  

“I have a great [APEX Accelerator] counselor. She connects me to different communities. A lot of the contracts I’ve gotten are because she’s connected me,” explains Danishia. “Having an APEX Accelerator counselor is like starting the game on second base: why wouldn’t you? It’s a big advantage.” 

Moving forward, Danishia is looking forward to working on strategies for growth, and becoming an expert in her industry. “I’m excited about being more strategic and proactive with my business – simple things like setting my books up in advance,” she says. “I’m doing a lot of learning and utilizing every resource.”

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With Funding from California Capital, Maisie’s Place Promotes Growth for Their Clientele

The team that founded Maisie’s Place, a nonprofit that provides in-home supportive living services to adults with disabilities, started by seeking to fulfill a need.  Realizing that the level of service available to developmentally disabled adults living on their own in the Greater Sacramento area could be elevated, Patricia Costanza co-founded Maisie’s Place with her daughter and husband.  

Working as a vendor of the Alta California Regional Center, Maisie’s Place launched in early 2023 and provides services to clientele in Sacramento, Placer, El Dorado and Nevada counties.  

The Maisie’s Place staff provides 24/7 services to their clientele, working with them to  achieve their goals for independent living, which range from learning how to clean their apartment and count money to using public transport on their own. Most importantly, says Costanza, their clients get involved in their communities.  

“When someone gets into supportive living services, our responsibility is to get them out the front door,” she explains.  “That could mean joining Special Olympics or even grocery shopping and making the right choices in the grocery store. It’s all meant to support them to be able to deal with life a little better.”  

Though they had the expertise to bring their vision to life, accessing funding was another obstacle entirely.

THE RIGHT FINANCING FIT

With contracts from the Alta California Regional Center, which assists people with developmental disabilities build a team of supportive specialists, Maisie’s Place was not subject to the same type of risk that other enterprises experience: they knew where their work would come from. But to maintain the payroll for their staff—which grew quickly—in between contract payments, Costanza and her team knew that they would need some financing support.  

“We went out to banks with marvelous binders filled with all of our information: our contracts, the money we would need, the low risk,” says Costanza, who was by then working as the CEO of the organization. “A friend in the banking industry told me: you’re a start-up, and a nonprofit. Nobody’s gonna give you anything. But I’ve never believed that.”  

When following leads from traditional banks, the Maisie’s Place team was met with the foretold resistance—not for lack of preparation, but simply because their need did not match the large business plans that banks provide. Not wanting to take on more debt than was necessary, Costanza’s determination eventually led her to speak with the California Capital Lending Center’s Business Development Officer, Brian Zscheile.  

After working with the Board of Directors of Maisie’s Place to establish a line of credit for payroll, Costanza was able to take out a microloan through California Capital to cover the overhead set up expenses of Maisie’s Place.  

“Brian worked his magic and everyone [at California Capital] was just wonderful,” says Costanza of the loan application process. “What impressed me the most was that our fight became California Capital’s fight, and that’s highly unusual. Nobody takes things personal these days, but [they] did.”

SUPPORT FOR GROWTH

With a dedicated executive team, highly qualified support staff to provide 24/7 services to their clients and a Board of Directors invested in the mission, Maisie’s Place is poised to broaden their impact.  

After seeing the difficulties that disabled adults experience in accessing safe, affordable housing, the team’s vision for the future is clear: expand housing opportunities for disabled adults by increasing availability.   

As Costanza explains it, the goal of creating systems where disabled adults can live independently and participate in their local communities is hindered by a lack of affordable housing and stringent income requirements that preclude them from even applying.  

 “I have one goal,” she says. “I would like Maisie’s Place to have a piece of property with a duplex so that I can guarantee four or five clients a home that they can afford. We could control the rent so we can rent to them at whatever their income level is, and always keep a room open in case we get a client that needs crisis housing.”  

With a deep commitment to and respect for the people they serve, the Maisie’s Place team is having a positive ripple effect on local communities by empowering disabled adults to build life skills and live with dignity. As a mission-based lender, California Capital is able to participate in building a better world through the enterprises that we fund. 

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Bear & Crown Pub Brings British Classics to Old Sacramento

For Joe Wilson and Jesse Ledin, owners of Bear & Crown Pub, opening a British eatery in Northern California was a new endeavor in their personal and professional lives—but in many ways, it was familiar territory.  The restaurant, which celebrated its grand opening in August of 2023, is an embrace of the unique backgrounds of each of its founders.   

A veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Ledin has worked in the restaurant and hospitality industry for nearly two decades, with experience ranging from banquet catering to overseeing restaurant openings, while Wilson is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) bringing extensive accounting experience and his British heritage to the enterprise.  Despite their experience, being a start-up restaurant presented challenges for accessing capital through a traditional bank loan—so when they were looking for funding to finalize their launch, they turned to California Capital and secured a loan that allowed them to complete their renovations of their Old Sacramento location.

BRITISH ROOTS, CALIFORNIA VIBE

Born in London to English parents, Wilson grew up eating—and enjoying—beloved British dishes. When Ledin stepped back from his role at another local restaurant, and the couple realized that their combined skillsets would translate well into operating a restaurant together, the idea of opening a traditional British pub immediately came to mind.  

“We saw a gap for a British pub in Sacramento, and we were craving that homey feel,” explains Ledin, adding that they were intent on opening near midtown or downtown Sacramento, where they live.  

What was originally envisioned as a hole-in-the-wall canteen, says Wilson, has developed into more of a California spin on the time-honored public houses of the United Kingdom. “It reflects my upbringing, because I’m both British and American, and the playful modern spin fits us more,” he says.  

To be sure, the brand itself is a deliberate nod to both locales. Bear & Crown follows the usual naming convention of pubs by having two nouns joined together, says Wilson, explaining that they chose bear to honor California and crown as a salute to hometown NBA team, The Kings. With a logo designed by local artist Spencer Parry, Bear & Crown is as Sacramento as a British-themed eatery can be.

SEEKING MENTORSHIP AND COMMUNITY SUPPORT

When they began to pursue the project in earnest, Ledin’s connections in the Sacramento restaurant industry proved to be invaluable mentors, and Wilson’s knowledge of accounting and business management made the planning s

eamless. Both of their families are supportive of the vision as well, and have invested in the start-up costs. With support from California Capital, they were able to finish their tenant improvements and open on schedule.  

“Working with [California Capital] was really easy, and it was great to have them visit the site and see the behind-the-scenes of how we were putting the money to use,” explains Wilson. “Working with a nonprofit lender was also a reflection of our love for the local community.”  

HUSTLE, BUSTLE, AND PLANS FOR GROWTH

Since their grand opening, the founders have kept their staff—and themselves—busy.  They are running promotions for Sacramento Kings fans heading to games at nearby Golden 1 Center, hosting private events and preparing to host more community events with their new entertainment permit.  In the coming months, they also plan to pilot a seasonal initiative in which they will partner with local nonprofits to offer a special menu item whose sales will support the nonprofit of the season.  

Add this to their regular happy hours and weekly, rotating Sunday Roast menu, and it is clear that Wilson and Ledin are staying true to the long-established tradition of pubs being more than a restaurant: Bear & Crown is quickly becoming a hub for entertainment, community building and inclusivity.  

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Sacramento Barber Ronald Burt Brought His Vision to Life with Funding and Business Assistance from California Capital

For Ronald Burt, owner of The Lux Barber Lounge, styling services are not just another fact of life–they’re an opportunity to feel your best. At his Midtown, Sacramento location, Ron provides his clients with barber and styling services designed to make them feel pampered and refreshed. Before launching The Lux Barber Lounge, Burt worked with Women’s Business Center business counselor, Prashante Bailey-Lewis. After meeting at a networking event through the WBC’s Motivated Entrepreneurs program, Bailey-Lewis helped Burt fine-tune his business plan and create financial projections to apply for funding through the California Capital Lending Center.  

After completing barber school in New York, Burt returned to his home state of California ready to expand his operation. “I’m passionate about looking fresh and making people feel good, so it just made sense to make it a career,” Burt says, reflecting on being inspired by his cousins in the industry. After completing school, Burt rented stations at various shops, but after relocating to Sacramento in 2021 to be closer to family, he knew that the growing Midtown grid held promise for living out his dream.  

THE SEARCH FOR SUPPORT

To bring his vision of a high-end barber shop in a prime location to life, Burt knew that he would need to get a business loan. When he heard about the WBC’s Motivated Entrepreneurs meet-up that focused on how to access business funding, he almost did not attend–he had gone to similar events and had never been connected with the right resources.  

But through Motivated Entrepreneurs, Burt learned about the holistic approach of California Capital’s no-cost services–which can take entrepreneurs from addressing business obstacles with a counselor to applying for funding from the in-house Lending Center–and he decided to begin working with WBC business counselor, Prashante Bailey-Lewis to prepare his loan application. 

A YEAR OF ACCOMPLISHMENTS

“Prashante told me she had experience in the beauty industry, so it was kind of a perfect match in terms of mentoring and counseling,” explains Burt. “I had a business plan, but she helped me tweak it, make it better, and also write financial projections.”

 With this guidance, Burt put together a comprehensive loan application and was approved for funding in late 2023. Burt used the funding to secure a lease in the heart of Midtown, Sacramento and purchase state of the art equipment to complete the build-out. Burt celebrated the grand opening of The Lux Barber Lounge in November of 2023, and was also named a finalist of the Motivated Entrepreneurs Small Business Showcase pitch competition. By connecting to resources and a team of experts that believe in his vision, Ron Burt is raising the bar styling services available in Sacramento.  

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Sacramento Valley SBDC Partners with Yuba County to Launch Business Start-Up Program

Marysville, CA | Small businesses now have the opportunity to take part in free entrepreneurial education – and a chance at $10,000 – through a new startup program from Yuba County and SBDC. This week, Yuba County opened applications for Yes to Start Ups, a business incubator program established in partnership with Sacramento Valley Small Business Development Center (SBDC). The program is a free, online training series that offers fundamental business education, resources, and technical assistance to entrepreneurs starting or growing new businesses in Yuba County. The series will culminate in a pitch competition where participants will receive start-up funding grants of up to $10,000. Applications are available on sacramentovalleysbdc.org/yestostartups and are accepted until January 14. To participate in the program, legal business entities must be registered or plan to register in Yuba County. The 6-week series will take place virtually on Tuesdays, Jan 30 through March 5, 2024.

“Yuba County is a great place to start a business,” says Rachel Downs, Business Engagement Manager with Yes to Yuba. “We have strong communities that love to shop small and support the local economy, and we’re proud to create new opportunities for the area’s entrepreneurs to thrive.”

The series will be taught by a business advisor from Sacramento Valley SBDC, a business development nonprofit that serves Yuba County businesses with no-cost advising and education. The six-week training will focus on writing a business plan—including financial projections, market research, and pitching to funders—and will prepare participants for the pitch competition.

“This program provides an innovative way for entrepreneurs to grow their business and help them to develop a winning pitch to access funding.,” explains SiewYee Lee-Alix, Director of Sacramento Valley SBDC. “We are looking forward to watch business owners pursue their dreams and to continue supporting them.”

Through the capstone pitch competition, the entrepreneurs who complete the educational portion of the program will have the opportunity to receive start-up funding. This increase in access to funding is another significant step towards elevating Yuba County as a location where businesses can start, grow, and thrive.

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Through California Capital partnership, City of Lodi expands funding opportunities for local businesses

Today, the City of Lodi Economic Development Department launches its partnership with Sacramento-based nonprofit California Capital Financial Development Corporation (FDC) to create a new loan program for small businesses and entrepreneurs in the City of Lodi. Through the Hometown Microloan Program, low-interest loans of up to $50,000 will be available to Lodi-based businesses with 10 or fewer employees.

“This new source of lending offered by the Lodi City Council is intended to provide a path forward to greater economic growth for startups and small businesses based in Lodi who have experienced hardships in obtaining capital,” explains Astria Trupovnieks, City of Lodi Business Development Manager. Trupovnieks developed the microloan program over a 12-month period in consultation with lending institutions in Lodi, regional nonprofit microlenders and community development nonprofits.

While any businesses who fit the borrowing criteria may apply, these loans are particularly designed to reach first-time borrowers and low-income, minority, veteran, and women-owned businesses. The partnership with California Capital FDC, a mission-based lender that provides loans to businesses who have been denied funding from traditional sources, will be instrumental in providing long-term financing support for Lodi’s growing businesses.

“California Capital provides complimentary business advising as part of the loan application process, ensuring that the applicants are prepared to manage their business and finances effectively,” explains Robert Gonzales, Director of Lending at California Capital, adding that business owners also will have access to ongoing no-cost advising after receiving a loan.

To add to the mission-based approach of the program, the loans will have a fixed interest rate of 5%, which is far below the current prime market rate. These favorable terms are made possible by the City of Lodi who will buying down the interest rate from 9.75 percent in addition to paying all loan fees. Leaders from both entities are optimistic, says Trupovnieks. “Plans are already underway to expand funding for the program to increase the number of businesses assisted in the future.”

Anyone interested in learning more about the Hometown Microloan Program is invited to visit cacapital.org/lodi or lodi.gov/484/economic-development.

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