Kay’s Kute Fruit in Greenville, Mississippi, faced a major setback in the summer of 2023 when their fresh fruit and smoothie bar was broken into. Thieves stole the cash register, deposits, safe, and three table sets with chairs. This incident was both a financial and emotional blow for owners Kenesha and Jason Lewis, forcing them to close the business for a month.

“The break-in took a lot out of us, but once we finally healed, we developed a vision to renew our business,” Kenesha said.

Kay’s Kute Fruit began in 2018 with fruit arrangements made at the Lewis residence. By 2019, they added freshly made smoothies. In 2020, with support from Higher Purpose Co., a nonprofit for Black businesses, they found a location for their business. Higher Purpose introduced them to Communities Unlimited’s (CU) Lending Team, and they received a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan in September 2020 for a property purchase and renovations.

Kay's Kute Fruit
Kay’s Kute Fruit officially opened its doors to its new venue on April 19, 2021, offering a variety of fresh fruit products and services, including all-natural beverages, fruit bowls, salads, fruit arrangements, and smoothies.

Fast forward to 2023, following the burglary and a sales dip during the winter season, Kenesha and Jason decided to make some changes. They reached out to CU and received a second loan for working capital, allowing them to acquire additional equipment and make small repairs to the venue. The couple plans to use the funds to enhance security measures and introduce new menu items suited for colder seasons, such as potato spuds. Additionally, they aim to renovate the space at the back of their building to host outdoor events.

“Communities Unlimited helped us tremendously again,” Kenesha said. “I’m so grateful. We reached out to you guys for more capital, and you came through.”

The break-in taught Kenesha and Jason valuable lessons about patience and organization. Kenesha now understands that it’s okay to reset and restart, and that persistence is key despite challenges.

“This last season we had the most challenges we have ever faced,” Kenesha said. “But you can’t stop. You must keep going. This is what we love to do, so we kept going. You’re going to face obstacles. You’re going to face challenges, and we kept going. We learned to be more patient and have everything ready and organized.”

Kenesha’s second experience working with CU was positive. She worked with Small Business Lender Candence Brooks, who strategically blended Kay’s Kute Fruit with the Entrepreneurship Team. Kenesha is currently engaged with the E-Team on accounting for her business.

“I met so many new people at Communities Unlimited,” Kenesha said. “During the loan closing, we were on a Zoom call. They were getting my information and were so interested in my business. It was amazing. I appreciate the staff at Communities Unlimited because they go above and beyond.”

Brooks says she has loved working with Kay’s Kute Fruit.

“Kenesha has a can-do attitude and has pushed through so many obstacles to get her business moving forward,” Brooks said. “She is very savvy and leverages her skillset to position the business for growth. Kay’s Kute Fruit has proven itself to be a staple in the community and I see nothing but great things for their future.”

Kay’s Kute Fruit is one of the only healthy food options in Greenville. In 2021, they were featured by National Public Radio (NPR) as a highlight of Black-owned businesses in the Mississippi Delta and were also mentioned in an article in Forbes. With help from organizations like Higher Purpose and Communities Unlimited, Kay’s Kute Fruit is back open and now has the resources to continue scaling its business operations.

“I'm excited about the future. I appreciate Communities Unlimited. My husband and I started this business with a heart of love and a desire to take care of people in the city. We’re still the only ones that sell fresh fruit smoothies. It’s something our city needs. "Thank you for allowing us to continue to put it out there and letting the people know that we’re here. We plan to be here forever.”

— Kenesha Lewis, Kay’s Kute Fruit