Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Accion San Diego Celebrates Its 20th Year of Impact in San Diego County [Press Release]

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Accion San Diego, a nonprofit microlender offering business loans from $300 to $75,000, celebrated its 20th anniversary this month. After two decades of supporting local entrepreneurs, the organization today supports thousands of small businesses annually and has provided more than 3,200 loans totaling more than $22 million in its 20-year history.

When Accion San Diego launched in 1994, it started with a handful of staff and made five loans totaling $6,000 in its first year. The organization has since grown, lending almost $2.5 million in 2013 and currently employing 16 staff in two offices in San Diego and Vista. This year, the organization is on track to have an increase again, serving more small business owners with access to capital, as it ends Q3 with a total of $2,057,442 disbursed in loan dollars in 2014. This is a 23% increase over the same timeframe in 2013. The almost 600 entrepreneurs that make up Accion’s portfolio use their loans to support their families and ultimately boot the regional economy, creating or sustaining more than 1,300 jobs in the San Diego region.

The organization formally celebrated its impact on Oct. 9th with its 20th Accion-iversary Event held at the Joe and Vi Jacobs Center where its main offices are housed. This event gathered more than 200 community supporters, Accion clients, staff and board members to a reception-style celebration. This client-centric event featured a marketplace of client vendors, as well as testimonials, awards, performances and silent auction items.

“We wanted every aspect of the celebration to highlight what we as Accion staff are most passionate about: our clients,” said Accion San Diego’s CEO Elizabeth Schott.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer spoke at the event, proclaiming Oct. 9th, 2014 as “Accion San Diego Day” in the city of San Diego. Furthermore, Hanis Cavin and Sara Stroud, Accion clients and owners of Carnitas' Snack Shack in North Park, were recognized with an award as the "Entrepreneurs of the Year”. Carnitas’ Snack Shack received an $11,000 start-up loan in 2011 from Accion and began their restaurant business with 3 employees. They are now working on their third location, now employing almost 60 people and currently donors of Accion San Diego.

Another awardee of the night was founding board member, William Lynch with the first-ever Accion San Diego Hall of Fame Charter Inductee Award for his 20 years of dedication and contribution as a board member.

“Bill Lynch is well-known in this town for his philanthropy toward children’s literacy initiatives, but he’s also been the tireless and enduring time, talent and treasury contributor to Accion San Diego’s mission,” said Accion San Diego board chair Gordon Boerner. “His contribution has resulted in $22 million in small loans awarded to existing and start-up micro-entrepreneurs throughout the San Diego region over the past 20 years.”

Eight other awards were presented to various community partners, recognizing their long-time contributions to the mission of the organization.

For more information about Accion’s 20th-anniversary visit: http://20years.accionsandiego.org

About Accion San Diego


Accion San Diego is a non-profit microlender dedicated to connecting entrepreneurs with the accessible financing and resources it takes to create or grow healthy businesses. By providing loans ranging from $300 to $75,000, it creates opportunity for increased income, economic stability and employment. Since 1994, Accion has provided more than 3,200 loans totaling more than $22 million in San Diego County.

Accion San Diego is a member of the Accion U.S. Network, the largest micro- and small business-lending network in the United States. The network’s five members have collectively made more than 45,000 loans totaling more than $350 million. Globally, Accion is a pioneer in microfinance, reaching millions of individuals through its international network of partners. For more information on Accion San Diego, visit www.accionsandiego.org.

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Contact: Joseph Lee
jlee@accionsandiego.org
(619) 795-7250 ext. 408

Monday, September 15, 2014

Client Spotlight: Running Hard with Milestone Running

By: Oren Rosenberg

Chad and Greg have hardly had time to catch their breath, as business has been so hectic at Milestone Running. They formed the idea for their business while working together in a Los Angeles area running store. Looking around, they saw a sales and commission-focused industry and decided that they both preferred to be involved with a store that emphasized community, health and quality customer service over profit.

“Greg and I wanted to make it our own thing,” said Chad. “And grow it how we want to grow it, as a community based-enterprise rather than a sales-based enterprise.”

After a little over a year in business at their North Park location, the community has clearly taken notice. The store resembles a sitcom set as much as it does a shoe store, with a revolving cast of local characters coming in to shop or just shoot the breeze with the ever-affable Chad and Greg.

The Milestone hang-out crowd are often left talking amongst themselves, however, as customers frequently cycle in and out, each receiving the full treatment from Chad or Greg. First they undergo a “gait analysis,” which involves running on a treadmill in the store while Greg or Chad films the way the potential customer’s feet land. Then, using their knowledge of exercise physiology gained from years working in the industry, they assess the way a customer’s foot rolls and use that assessment to recommend shoes that fit the customer’s specific needs.

This first-class service comes with both current style running shoes, as well as heavily-discounted styles from last year. Greg and Chad are acutely aware that some customers may have more limited means.

“We try to keep other brands or styles in stock that are a bit less expensive so that everyone has access to a comparable level of quality in terms of shoe,” said Greg. “We even keep shoes on sale on purpose.”

None of this would be possible, they said, without their $25,000 start-up loan from Accion, which allowed them to build an inventory and design a retail location that would be pleasing both for customers and for the local running community.

Since receiving the loan early last year, Milestone has almost tripled their sales, allowing them to reinvest earnings into more inventory to meet their growing demand. With this strategy, Greg and Chad are confident that they will continue to draw market share away from their competitors.

While their increase in sales is impressive, the numbers fail to fully capture the buzz Milestone Running is creating in their community. Through working with like-minded organizations like the San Diego Track Club, as well as through their weekly Wednesday group runs that start in front of the store, Milestone Running’s impact reaches far beyond their bottom line.

They hope one day to expand to another location, but for now, Chad and Greg are focused on grassroots, word-of-mouth marketing and community involvement, which they believe will ensure the long-run success and viability of Milestone Running.

Need some new running shoes? Make sure to check them out online at: www.milestonerunning.com

Monday, September 8, 2014

Accion San Diego Receives $880,000 CDFI Fund Grant [Press Release]

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Accion San Diego, a nonprofit microlender offering business loans from $300 to $75,000, was awarded an $880,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI). The CDFI Fund uses federal resources to invest in CDFIs to build their capacity to serve low-income people and communities that lack access to affordable financial products and services.

This is the largest CDFI Fund grant that the organization has ever received, having been awarded $747,000 last year and $600,000 each of the two years before that. It is also the single largest financial contribution received in the organization’s 20-year history.

“We look forward to supporting additional small business owners with access to capital using this award, and are honored that the growth and increased capacity of our organization is being recognized by the CDFI Fund with a year-over-year increase in funding,” said Accion San Diego’s CEO Elizabeth Schott. “This achievement comes in an exciting year as we celebrate our 20th-anniversary of serving small business owners and we invite the public to come join us at our ‘20th Accion-iversary Party’ on Oct. 9 from 5 to 7 p.m.”

The other four members of the Accion U.S. Network, the largest micro- and small business lending network in the United States, were also awarded grants from the CDFI Fund. In total, the independent 501c(3) nonprofit members of the Accion U.S. Network received $6.98 million from the CDFI Fund:
  • Accion San Diego received $880,000, a 17 percent increase from 2013; 
  • Accion Chicago received $1 million, an 18 percent increase; 
  • Accion East received $1.5 million, an 11 percent increase; 
  • Accion New Mexico • Arizona • Colorado • Nevada received $1.6 million, an 18 percent increase; 
  • Accion Texas received $2 million, a 48 percent increase. 
Accion's CDFI Fund awards will support the five organizations in increasing access to capital in the 25 cities and 49 states they collectively serve.

This year’s CDFI Fund awards provided over $195.4 million to 185 organizations serving low-to-moderate income communities throughout the United States. Awardees represent a diverse group of credit unions, depository institutions, loan funds and venture capital funds.

For more information about Accion’s 20th-anniversary celebration visit: http://20years.accionsandiego.org

About Accion San Diego
Accion San Diego is a non-profit microlender dedicated to connecting entrepreneurs with the accessible financing and resources it takes to create or grow healthy businesses. By providing loans ranging from $300 to $75,000, it creates opportunity for increased income, economic stability and employment. Since 1994, Accion has provided more than 3,200 loans totaling more than $22 million in San Diego County.

Accion San Diego is a member of the Accion U.S. Network, the largest micro- and small business-lending network in the United States. The network’s five members have collectively made more than 45,000 loans totaling more than $350 million. Globally, Accion is a pioneer in microfinance, reaching millions of individuals through its international network of partners. For more information on Accion San Diego, visit www.accionsandiego.org.

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Contact: Joseph Lee
jlee@accionsandiego.org
(619) 795-7250 ext. 408

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

San Diego Microfinance Summit Recap

The 6th annual San Diego Microfinance Summit was held on April 8th at the University of San Diego and featured a great lineup of industry expert speakers, along with a variety of unique microfinance clients who provided food and goods for the lunch time client marketplace. 


Keynote speaker Larry Reed, from the Microcredit Summit Campaign, kicked off the event with tales of his experience with microfinance abroad and an inspiring call to action. The morning panel session featured three organizations in the microfinance industry. Leaders from GiveDirectly, Kiva and Puddle talked about peer-to-peer financing, the critical role technology plays in and using it to reach people in all corners of the world.

Following the morning sessions lunch was served, featuring a sampling of dishes from different microfinance clients serving Mexican, Italian and East African foods. A client marketplace with over a dozen various microfinance client vendors featured everything from jewelry to loose-leaf tea.

The afternoon sessions began with a focus on local micro lending and returning to traditional ways of saving and sharing. The microlending session included panelists from local lenders, including Foundation for Women, IRC, Accion San Diego and CDC, while the saving and sharing session featured panelists from Women’s Empowerment International, San Diego Microfinance Puddle, Microloans for Mothers and Puddle.

At the closing Keynote, Larry Reed and Chris Crane chatted about microfinance and education. Edify, founded by Crane, builds schools around the world and gives people access to education that previously never had the opportunity. This inspirational session gave participants a glimpse of how innovations in microfinance are granting access to educational opportunities for the poor.

For more information about the Summit visit the San Diego Microfinance Alliance.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Using Text Message Marketing to Attract Repeat Customers

By: Michael Sasaki, Vice President of Sales, Omni Mobile Marketing


Text message marketing, also known as SMS marketing, is an increasingly popular way for small businesses to communicate specials, coupons, promotions and discounts by text message. This kind of regular communication can help increase the amount of repeat customers to your business.

First, let’s define some key text message marketing lingo:
  • Keyword - A word or name used to distinguish a targeted message. For example, you will see ads and signs that say “Text joespizza to 96000 for an immediate $5 off your order.” In this case, ‘joespizza’ is the Keyword. 
  • Short Code - A special telephone number, significantly shorter than full telephone numbers that can be used to address SMS and MMS messages from mobile phones. In the example above, ‘96000’ is the Short Code.
Now, here are the 5 steps to use text message marketing: