PPP - What You Need to Know and How to Apply

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is an SBA loan program that can be fully forgivable. Find out if you're eligible and how to apply through Communities Unlimited for the loan that turns into a grant. A lender will be available to answer any questions.

*Registration closes 48 hours before the training event.


Part-Time Gamers Grabs Golden Opportunity Thanks to Reboot Loan

Part-Time Gamers Grabs Golden Opportunity Thanks to Reboot Loan

“All failure is failure to adapt, all success is successful adaptation.”  

Those are the words of author and business strategist Max McKeown, and those words have never been more true than during a pandemic. 

The COVID-19 pandemic that spread across the United States in 2020 forced many businesses to adapt in order to survive. That especially held true for small businesses, which were among the hardest hit. For some, surviving the pandemic meant putting expansion on hold, and altering the vision for the business’s future.  

Such was the case for Christopher Lewis, owner of Part Time Gamers. Christopher turned a few game sales from his personal collection into a gaming retail store that he ran from his home. The business became official in April 2020, selling games for a variety of console systems.  

He began selling in stores on eBay and Amazon, but he soon created his own website, www.parttimegamersstore.com. Christopher started by selling from his vast personal collection, then he purchased more inventory to sell.  

Within months, he had more than $14,000 in sales.  

“I think that’s pretty good for a one-person operation,” he said.  

Soon, Christopher had another goal. He wanted to move into a brick-and-mortar location. The question was, would it be the right timing and the right decision for his business?  

About the same time, the announcement came for new game consoles that would arrive in time for holiday shopping. For Part Time Gamers to sell the latest consoles at a good profit margin, he would need financial assistance to purchase the consoles in bulk to get a better discount 

With multiple choices available, Christopher needed assistance to determine the best path for the future of his business. He turned to Communities Unlimited.  

Christopher was referred to Communities Unlimited by Higher Purpose, a Mississippi-based nonprofit that connects small businesses with a variety of resources.  

Christopher consulted with the Lending team at Communities Unlimited and was able to create financial projections for the building purchase and for the console purchases. He applied for a Microloan to assist with the building acquisition and a Reboot Loan to purchase inventory. 

After reviewing his financial projections with Lending Associate Kevin Tillman, it was determined that purchasing the building at that time wouldn’t be best for his business. With the COVID-19 crisis in full swing, bringing customers in to a new physical location would be impossible, because all non-essential locations in his area had been forced to close 

Instead, Christopher decided to concentrate on building his business from home and getting on more solid financial ground before moving to a physical location. 

He decided to work solely to apply for the Reboot Loan, one of the products introduced by Communities Unlimited in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The loan is designed to assist small businesses and entrepreneurs who want to introduce a new product or service in response to COVID-19. 

Just 20 days after his application was submitted, Christopher was awarded a $10,000 Reboot Loan to purchase the consoles and other inventory in time for the Christmas shopping rush.  

“That Reboot Loan was perfect for that purpose of gathering the inventory and the products I needed to get them out there,” he said.  

He was able to purchase several of the latest consoles in bulk at discounted prices, which meant a better profit margin for him. He also set aside some of the money for the latest PlayStation and Xbox systems expected to be released in November. Those systems are expected to top the list of big-ticket, hot items for Christmas sales.  

Christopher said the Reboot Loan was the perfect solution for his business and an easy process, thanks in part to Kevin’s guidance.  

“It was a very smooth experience. I enjoyed it. Kevin guided me through the process from start to finish,” Christopher said. 

Thanks to a loan and financial assistance from Communities Unlimited, Christopher is now able to offer what is expected to be a hot-ticket item to customers looking for entertainment while staying safely at home.  


Airport City Executive Center & Catering in the heart of Memphis

Airport City Executive Center & Catering in the heart of Memphis

Moving an existing business and starting a new business venture can be difficult tasks on their own. Doing both at the same time can be even more difficult. Doing both during a worldwide pandemic can present a myriad of challenges.  

One Memphis business owner found a way to rise to those challenges with assistance from Communities Unlimited.  

Elise Paulette Sanford opened the Airport City Executive Center & Catering in the heart of MemphisThe business focused mainly on providing delicious, healthy foods for special events and catering. 

She started the business in a building with another tenant, but over time, the location and shared space didn’t meet her business’ needs. Paulette decided to move her business to a new location. 

Unfortunately, it was right about that time the COVID-19 epidemic took hold in the United States. Businesses were forced to close their doors and plans were put on hold or left up in the air.  

Still, Paulette needed to complete her move, but she was going to need assistance in getting the move done in such a turbulent time.  

Paulette had previously worked with Communities Unlimited when she owned a former business and felt she needed the one-on-one assistance that they provided, so she turned to them once again.   

Paulette started by placing a phone call to Cynthia Terry, Director of Entrepreneurship for Communities Unlimited. She looked to Cynthia for guidance in the move and in adapting to the demands created by the COVID-19 crisis. Paulette planned to introduce a new business venture — creating box lunches to sell to nearby warehouse workers and those at other businesses that remained open. She planned to call the new product “Paulette’s Meals to Go.”  

Cynthia set up a meeting for her and Paulette to meet with Communities Unlimited’s lending director, Deborah Temple, and the three decided that prior to applying for a loan, Communities Unlimited would help her think through her business model and develop financial projections to confirm the feasibility of her idea. One of Communities Unlimited’s management consultants, Marnell Love, worked one-on-one with Paulette to do just that.  

Shortly thereafter, Paulette began working with Lending Associate Kevin Tillman on a Pivot Loan for her new business venture. The Pivot Loan is one of the new Recovery Loan products offered by Communities Unlimited in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The Pivot Loan provides small businesses with funds to introduce new products or services in response to the pandemic. The Reboot Loan provides funds to small businesses looking to reopen or stay open during the crisis. 

Kevin visited her business in Memphis before the COVID-19 crisis hit. Kevin saw Paulette’s idea of pre-made, deliverable meals as an ideal product in response to the pandemic.  

Paulette was able to relocate her business to a property along Commercial Parkway, one of the main hubs in Memphis. The new location provided an option for future purchase, as well as additional space she could sublease to others needing small offices downtown.  

Paulette was able to get her new business venture going and continue her previous services in her new location thanks to the Pivot Loan. As the new venture took off, Elise saw yet another opportunity — offering her prepared meals for curbside service as well as delivery.  

Thanks to Communities Unlimited, Paulette is serving healthy meals to clients and customers throughout the Memphis area.  


Find the Perfect Balance

Find the Perfect Balance

While many businesses struggled to survive the COVID-19 pandemic, one Arkansas business actually saw an increase in clients. But that increase, and the pandemic, led to a different set of problems for the business. 

Heather Sanders started Perfect Balance LLC financial services in 2018 in North Little Rock, Arkansas, on a part-time basis. By August 2019, she moved to the business full time. The business aims to assist small businesses and organizations with their finances. Heather provided one-on-one consulting to clients to guide them on their finances. Perfect Balance offers bookkeeping services, accounting consultation and training and hotel accounting services. Her meetings with her clients were often face to face. 

But in early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic began spreading across the country, and personal consultations had to cease for safety reasons.  

 But as the pandemic took hold, Heather’s business saw an uptick in demand as businesses struggled to survive significant revenue drop because of customers staying home for safety reasons or closures enacted by local or state governments. She also began helping small business owners apply for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan for COVID-19 relief. The demand became increasingly difficult for the business. 

Heather needed a way to continue working with clients without endangering herself, her staff or her clients. She came up with a few ideas, but she would need some financial assistance to complete her plans. 

Heather found what she needed with Communities Unlimited. 

Adapting Amid a Crisis 

Heather devised several changes to her business to respond to the new restrictions implemented during the COVID-19 crisis. She came up with a plan to implement a new secure online virtual meeting space, turning the one-on-one meetings with clients into virtual ones. She would need more equipment to get her new business protocols up to full speed. She also decided she needed to hire a part-time staff member to help with day-to-day operations as clients poured in needing assistance to weather the pandemic and the many closures it created. 

Heather began working with Lending Associate Kevin Tillman to determine the best loan for her plans. Kevin helped her determine that a Pivot Loan would work best for her. 

Heather applied for a Pivot Loan, one of the Recovery Loan products created by Communities Unlimited to assist small businesses through the pandemic. The Pivot Loan is for businesses who want to enact other goods or services to keep their business going during the COVID-19 crisis. The other product, the Reboot Loan, assists businesses who are trying to stay open or are trying to reopen during the pandemic. 

Heather said her experience with Communities Unlimited was easier than expected.  

“It was one of the best experiences that I’ve had because it was my first loan with my business, and as I went through the application, I stopped filling it out at first, because you needed assets. I reached that asset line and just stopped,” she said. 

“Kevin reached out to me and I told him I didn’t have any real assets to add, and he said no, this was difference circumstances, and he encouraged me to finish the process.”  

She did, requesting a Pivot Loan in the amount of $5,000 on May 29, 2020. She received approval of the loan on June 11. The loan would allow her to hire the additional staff member and to implement the virtual meeting space so she could conduct Bookkeeping/Accounting meetings online with her clients.  

“This money allowed me to create a way to send things to my clients electronically,” she said. “It also helped me expand my services that I offered. I also did some marketing and bought more equipment.” 

While most clients receiving Pivot Loans used the funds to try to stay afloat, Heather needed the funding to meet an increased demand.  

Using the Pivot Loan, Heather was able to add the staff necessary to assist local businesses through the pandemic. She also was able to move her meetings online and keep both her staff and her clients safe.  

“It was the easiest process I’ve been through, and the most beneficial process, as well,” she said.  

“I would encourage small businesses that need to expand and want to grow and aren’t really sure what the next step is…that [Communities Unlimited] is a great resource,” Heather said. “I would encourage them to reach out. 


PPP - What You Need to Know and How to Apply

 The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is an SBA loan that can be fully forgivable. Find out if you're eligible and how to apply for the loan that turns into a grant. A lender will be available to answer any questions.


Filmmaker Adds New Service Thanks to CU Pivot Loan

Filmmaker Adds New Service Thanks to CU Pivot Loan

Communities Unlimited has assisted a variety of small businesses throughout the years, from retail shops to restaurants and caterers. Not all small businesses fit into that mold, but they may still need guidance or financial assistance to weather the tough times. Communities Unlimited provides services for those who take a more creative turn in business 

Such was the case of the Gentle Giant Creative Agency, a filmmaking business based in Mississippi that serviced northern Mississippi and nearby Memphis, Tennessee.  

Tyson McClain started the Gentle Giant Creative Agency in January 2019 in Clarksdale, Mississippi. The business created content during annual film festivals. Tyson planned to use his experience as a screenwriter and film producer to create content for clients as well as his own original content. 

But as his business got off the ground, Tyson struggled with the overhead costs. A big part of the issue was the equipment Tyson used. Because filmmaking equipment was so expensive, Tyson leased the equipment he used for his business. 

The practice allowed him to complete his film projects, but the rentals cut into any profit he might receive. Even worse, the COVID-19 pandemic began spreading rapidly across the country in Spring 2020, curtailing businesses nationwide.  

Tyson heard about Communities Unlimited and the assistance it provides to small businesses, including offering several loan products.  

He came to Communities Unlimited with a plan. He wanted a loan to purchase his own equipment. That way, not only would he be able to save expenses from leasing equipment from others, but he would be able to lease some of his own equipment to provide additional income. With the pandemic rapidly taking its toll on small businesses, the elimination of his main expense and the addition of a second income stream could keep his business from being one of the estimated 60% of businesses whose closures during the pandemic have become permanent.*  

Tyson applied for a Pivot Loan from Communities Unlimited on Aug. 14, 2020. The Pivot Loan was one of two Recovery Loan products created to assist small businesses through the COVID-19 crisis, the second being the Reboot Loan. The Pivot Loan is for businesses looking to offer additional products or services to adapt to COVID-19 restrictions. The Reboot Loan is for businesses looking to reopen or stay open during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Exactly one week after Tyson applied for a Pivot Loanhe was told that he had received the $5,000 loan. With the money, he was not only able to purchase equipment, but he also was able to cover salaries for five subcontractors.  

Thanks to the purchase, Tyson no longer had to pay to rent equipment, saving money for his business at a time when cutting costs was vital to surviving the pandemic. 

Tyson has already seen success with his production company. The company’s film “Dream” won the “Best Mid-South Film” award for 2020 at the Midsouth Black Film Festival.  

Tyson has since completed other projects, including three of his own. With his new equipment, Tyson will be able to continue his projects and prepare for the forthcoming 2021 film festivals.  


*”Yelp Data Shows 60% of Business Closures Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic Are Now Permanent” https://www.cnbc.com/2020/09/16/yelp-data-shows-60percent-of-business-closures-due-to-the-coronavirus-pandemic-are-now-permanent.html 


INVESTING IN ENTREPRENEURS OF COLOR: A PLAYBOOK FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPERS

INVESTING IN ENTREPRENEURS OF COLOR: A PLAYBOOK FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPERS

Communities Unlimited (CU) is a non-profit and CDFI that works to unwind generations of inequity and disinvestment in the rural south. CU primarily serves communities of color in the rural regions of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas— areas with high rates of poverty and food insecurity. Through a wide array of technical assistance and access to capital, CU works to provide entrepreneurs with the tools necessary to start and grow their small businesses. CU offers a parallel of extensive technical assistance specifically targeted at financial management and lending through their CDFI. CU addresses what they see as the three issues that entrepreneurs, specifically entrepreneurs of color face, which are: a lack of access to markets, not enough critical capital at both the startup and growth phases, and management capacity.

Who is this program made to help?

Majority Black-, minority-owned small businesses in seven states in the southern United States, an area with a large number of rural communities, a high minority population, and high rates of poverty and food insecurity.

How is it doing that?

  • Technical Assistance. The majority of Communities Unlimited’s technical assistance is in financial management, with 40 different products, with a focus in financial literacy (i.e. bookkeeping, sales, customer retention, and marketing.) Regardless of the skill being taught, CU works one-on-one to help entrepreneurs learn the skills needed to make their businesses succeed. The average client spends 36 individual hours with a CU team member.
  • Working in parallel with technical assistance. The loan team and the technical assistance team work hand and hand, helping the businesses through the process simultaneously ensuring that the entrepreneur gets what they need, when they need it, whether that is an emergency loan or a cash flow issue. If the loan officer finds a problem, the TA team can help solve it.
  • Right-sizing the loan. With the technical assistance team’s input, CU identifies and typically loans out exactly the amount the business needs at that moment—with the entrepreneur knowing that they can apply for multiple loans down the road according to their needs. In most cases, if a business has enough collateral, they receive the full amount requested from the CDFI. CU purposefully works with the client to ensure they do not receive more than they need. When the business requests their second or third loan, the process is streamlined and can be approved in less than 24 hours because CU already has all of their information.
  • Relationship lending. Instead of only looking at the credit score to decide whether an entrepreneur qualifies for a loan, CU pulls a credit report, and talks with the client about the score and gives the entrepreneur an opportunity to explain their debt, or go on a payment plan, allowing CU to accept their loan application. When CU is unable to give a loan based on SBA guidelines or other regulations, they disclose the reasons to the entrepreneur and, whenever possible, help them address some of the issues, helping them clear the path for a potential loan in the future. As a CDFI, CU always takes collateral, not as a decision factor, but to ensure that the entrepreneur is fully committed in the process.

Contact information

Ines Polonius, Executive Director, Ines.Polonius@CommunitiesU.org


We Are The Boot Guys

We Are The Boot Guys

It’s always a challenge to start a small business, and even more so when you have little to no experience. When William El-Amin and Jakeveeus Davis decided to take an idea and turn it into a business, they faced an uphill battle.

Luckily, they discovered the resources from Communities Unlimited along the way.

William El-Amin and Jakeveeus Davis both worked in Little Rock. They had an idea for a side business that would collect vehicle-related fines from those who owed or parked illegally, one that had worked well in other states.

Together, they came up with The Boot Guys, a vehicle “booting” company.

Often, those who owe traffic tickets or those who park illegally would come out to find a “boot” on a tire of their vehicle, preventing them from driving off until they paid their fines. The Boot Guys wanted to do something similar but with a different type of “boot.” This device consists of a rectangular piece that attaches to the windshield of the vehicle. It prevents the driver from being able to see to drive, and the driver can remove it by putting in their credit card information and paying their fine.

With this product in mind, William and Jakeveeus looked for resources to assist them in starting their business.

The Boot Guys were introduced to Communities Unlimited during a training session held in Gould, Arkansas.

William met Deborah Temple, Director of Lending at Communities Unlimited, at the event in 2018. Two years later, he approached Deborah to say he had an idea for starting a new small business. Deborah had her team speak with him about small business loan options and referred him to the Entrepreneurship team at Communities Unlimited to assist them in getting their business off on the right foot.

The men began working with Communities Unlimited in January 2020, presenting their ideas to Brian Wells, Senior Management Consultant, and Akira Morishita, Management Consultant. Together, they worked through an initial assessment. William and Jakeveeus laid out their initial business plan, future plans, corporate structure, identified challenges, and how they would promote their business through the Internet and social media.

As preparations for the business continued, the COVID-19 pandemic began making its way across the country. The pandemic caused closures and job losses throughout the nation and put a significant strain on small businesses.

William and Jakeveeus took a step back, debating whether it was a good time to open a small business. On April 1, 2020, they decided to delay opening their business in light of the COVID-19 crisis.

Though their plans were on pause, their dreams were not. The men kept their plans for opening their new business ready for launch.

By July, businesses were slowly starting to reopen, and William and Jakeveeus decided to move forward with their plans. Once again, they contacted Communities Unlimited for assistance.

Communities Unlimited guided William and Jakeveeus in applying for and receiving their business license, business insurance, EIN and state registration. They received instruction in preparing a business model to show potential customers, revenue generators, costs, value propositions, cash flow planning and other aspects.

Kevin Tillman, Small Business Lender, was able to walk the men through the application process for a microloan of $4,000 to cover licensing fees and the first few months of equipment leases. The loan was approved in August, and the men set to work establishing the business.

With all the necessary knowledge and tools about starting and operating a small business, the men began The Boot Guys, LLC, in early September 2020. By early October, the business was up and running. They started with one contract, but even before the business officially opened in October, they had two more.

With the support of Communities Unlimited, William and Jakeveeus were prepared to start their new business. Despite the challenges of beginning a business during a pandemic, the new business is quickly becoming a success.

William praised the assistance they have received from Communities Unlimited.

“I am ecstatic. The CU consultants that I work with are the best,” William said. “Akira and Brian are there with me every step of the way. The passion they have is so refreshing. They work tirelessly with me in developing the business plan, from identifying keep partners to financial planning. CU has, by far, exceeded my expectations, and I would not change a thing.”


Finding The Perfect Balance

Finding The Pefect Balance

While many businesses are struggling to survive the COVID-19 pandemic, one Arkansas business saw an increase in clients. But that increase, and the pandemic, led to a different set of problems for the business.

Heather Sanders started Perfect Balance, LLC financial services in 2018 in North Little Rock, Arkansas, on a part-time basis. By August 2019, she moved to the business full time. Perfect Balance provides one-on-one consulting to small businesses and organizations to assist them with their finances, offering bookkeeping services, accounting consultation and training and hotel accounting services. Her meetings with her clients typically face to face.

But in early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic began spreading across the country, and personal consultations had to cease.

But as the pandemic took hold, Heather’s business saw an uptick in demand as businesses struggled to survive significant drops in revenue because of customers staying home or closures enacted by local or state governments. She worked with small business owners apply for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan for COVID-19 relief. The demand became increasingly difficult for her to handle.

Heather needed a way to continue working with clients without endangering herself, her staff or her clients. She came up with a few ideas, but she would need some financial assistance to complete her plans.

Heather found what she needed with Communities Unlimited.

Adapting Amid a Crisis

Heather devised several changes to her business to respond to the new restrictions implemented because of the COVID-19 pandemic. She came up with a plan to implement a new secure online virtual meeting space, turning the in-person meetings with clients into virtual ones. She would need more equipment to get her new business protocols up to full speed. She also decided she needed to hire a part-time staff member to help with day-to-day operations as clients poured in needing assistance to weather the pandemic and the many closures it created.

Heather began working with Small Business Lender Kevin Tillman to determine the best loan for her plans. Kevin helped her decide that a Pivot Loan would work best for her.

Heather applied for a Pivot Loan, one of the Recovery Loan products created by Communities Unlimited to assist small businesses through the pandemic. The Pivot Loan is for small businesses who want to purchase other goods or services to keep their business going during the COVID-19 crisis.

Heather said her experience with Communities Unlimited was easier than expected.

“It was one of the best experiences that I’ve had because it was my first loan with my business, and as I went through the application, I stopped filling it out at first because you needed assets. I reached that asset line and just stopped,” she said.

“Kevin reached out to me, and I told him I didn’t have any real assets to add, and he said no, this was difference circumstances, and he encouraged me to finish the process.”

She did, requesting a Pivot Loan for $5,000 on May 29, 2020. She was approved for the loan on June 11. The loan would allow her to hire an additional staff member and implement the virtual meeting space to conduct Bookkeeping/Accounting meetings online with her clients.

“This money allowed me to create a way to send things to my clients electronically,” she said. “It also helped me expand the services that I offered. I also did some marketing and bought more equipment.”

While most clients receiving Pivot Loans used the funds to stay afloat, Heather needed the funding to meet increased demand.

Using the Pivot Loan, Heather was able to add the staff necessary to assist local businesses through the pandemic.

“It was the easiest process I’ve been through, and the most beneficial process, as well,” she said.

“I would encourage small businesses that need to expand and want to grow and aren’t really sure what the next step is…that [Communities Unlimited] is a great resource,” Heather said. “I would encourage them to reach out.”


A Food Truck With A Fresh Taste

A Food Truck With A Fresh Taste

The COVID-19 pandemic devastated small businesses nationwide during most of 2020. Those that survived did so by adapting to the drastic changes brought on by lengthy closures, strict disinfection rules and mandates on masks and social distancing.

One business in a Texas town has been able to reinvent itself thanks, in part, to a microloan from Communities Unlimited.

Freshbox of Amarillo was started in Amarillo, Texas, in 2018 by Anna Lisa Ramos. The business provides catering for events and businesses featuring a menu with classic Tex-Mex dishes and modern healthy options.

Anna Lisa had spent several years catering as a side business. She started with church and corporate events and built a reputation for excellent food. She opened her own business using the skills she had honed over the years and the help of a small business mentoring program. Anna Lisa opened Freshbox of Amarillo. Thanks to the delicious, healthy options she served, her business grew. Then, COVID-19 hit.

The business was hit hard when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The pandemic shut down businesses and events, eliminating the core income of Freshbox of Amarillo. If the business were to survive, it would need to adapt and quickly.

Anna Lisa came up with the idea that could help the business survive — she would buy a food trailer and make her business mobile.

Anna Lisa came to Communities Unlimited in July 2020 to request a microloan of $48,000 to buy the food trailer and a wrap that would cover the trailer, marketing costs and startup expenses for her new food trailer. She began working with Deborah Temple, Director of Lending, and Loan Associate Kevin Tillman on her loan application.

Luckily for Anna Lisa, Deborah and Communities Unlimited’s CEO, Ines Polonius, were familiar with her business. Both attended an event that Freshbox of Amarillo had catered and knew the food was top quality. Their knowledge of the product allowed them to see the potential in the overall business and Anna Lisa’s plan to pivot to a food trailer.

She completed the application with Kevin’s assistance on July 28, and she received approval for the loan by Aug. 21.

Anna Lisa is now waiting as the wrap and equipping the food trailer is finished, but that does not mean she has stopped working with Communities Unlimited.

“Communities Unlimited is helping me so much with all the references and everything y’all have to offer,” she said.

In addition to the loan, Anna Lisa also took advantage of another Communities Unlimited service — technical assistance. Through the Entrepreneurship program, Anna Lisa received expertise and training to get her food truck off the ground.

“It’s just so valuable for me to receive this,” she said. “It’s valuable so that I can be successful.”

Communities Unlimited provides technical assistance such as bookkeeping software training and other financial and accounting training to help small businesses find long-term success. One-on-one assistance is tailored to the client. In Anna Lisa’s case, she is getting assistance with the bookkeeping and her menus.

“The biggest problem that I had over the years was figuring out my menu as far as the cost,” she said. “Everything I had to figure out on my own. It takes a lot of time.”

She began working with Akira Morishita, Management Consultant for Communities Unlimited. Akira worked with Anna Lisa to determine what type of menu to offer and what would provide the best cost-to-revenue ratio for her new mobile business.

Her background in catering and buffet-style presentations made it easier to decide on the format for her menu. She said Akira helped her decide on a buffet-style. One factor in determining that was to figure out the cost for each dish.

“I think he’s going to present me with something I can use for every recipe,” Anna Lisa said.

She also began working with Cynthia Terry, Director of Entrepreneurship, on projections for her business. They were able to determine that Anna Lisa could hire an employee.

Anna Lisa said her relationship with Communities Unlimited has her optimistic about her future.

“I feel like everyone who is involved and who is helping really truly wants me to succeed,” Anna Lisa said. “They did not just lend me the money, and that’s it. I really think that they’re setting me up for a successful business and not just another taco truck.”