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:

Going Nuts for Praline Patisserie

 Cruz Caudillo, founder and owner of Praline Patisserie, was always interested in creating amazing food. After eight years as an executive pastry chef in fine dining restaurants, Cruz decided to venture out and start his own business. Using a praline-inspired recipe, he created his first product, a specialty caramel sauce. After perfecting his recipe, he attended his first San Diego farmers’ market in Little Italy and sold out of his 150 jars in only four hours.

Increasing sales and the eventual acquisition of his own commercial kitchen enabled Cruz to produce a variety of different products. The biggest barrier to his growth, however, was the inefficiency of his production. Cruz was labeling and pouring all his sauces into jars by hand, producing only 200 jars of sauce on a good day. After painstakingly filling over 20,000 jars by hand, he finally decided that he needed to invest in creating a more efficient process.

A friend told Cruz about Accion San Diego, and he decided to apply for a small business loan. In less than a week, Cruz was approved for a $7,200 Brewing the American Dream microloan, which he used to buy a piston filler (shown above) and labeler. This small loan allowed Praline Patisserie to go from producing 200 jars of product a day to over 1,500. Even with the increase in inventory, Cruz has had no problem selling out of his popular sauces online, at multiple farmers’ markets around San Diego and local specialty retailers like Whole Foods.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

America Saves Week

With America Saves Week approaching (February 24-March 1) there’s no better time to reflect on your savings strategy. Last year, the average American spent about $2,000 on unexpected expenditures and emergencies. And while nobody can control when these situations happen, everybody can control their savings plan. Here are some tips to help you save more:

Direct Deposit Your Paycheck – Ask your employer to directly deposit your paycheck into a savings account; it’ll make it harder for you to spend it. Being more conscious about transferring your money from savings to checking in order to make purchases will help you be more aware of how much you are spending.

Track Your Goal – Make it a goal to review your credit card and checking account statements once a month. See where you’re spending money that could you could otherwise be saving.

The 24 Hour Rule – Don’t buy anything expensive on impulse. Instead, wait at least a day to think about it.

Develop Savings Discipline – Every time you indulge or spend money on something that is a nonessential, match the purchase by putting an equal amount into your savings account. If you can’t afford to move money into savings than you probably don’t need that $5 cappuccino.

Start With Short Term – Instead of focusing on yearly or monthly amounts to save, start with a weekly or daily goal. A short term savings goal keeps it relevant and you’ll be amazed how quickly even $10 a week adds up.

Dine In – Eat out one fewer time per month. Spending the $5 to eat at home instead of the $25 to eat at a restaurant once a month is an additional $240 a year that you could be saving!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Client Spotlight: JRC Consulting

By Rory Soltan, Accion Intern

With over 22 years of experience, Jorge Rodriguez is a true expert when it comes to private security. Starting as a security officer in 1992, he quickly climbed the ranks, eventually directing security for a sports memorabilia company for both their domestic and Latin American offices. By 2003, he knew that the next step in his career was to start his own business and started JRC Consulting Inc. with his wife Cruz.

JRC Consulting grew quickly, taking in over $80,000 of revenue within its first year. Things grew steadily until 2012 when Jorge secured one of the company’s largest contracts ever. Though this was a tremendous opportunity, Jorge lacked the working capital needed to pay the wages of the new hires he needed, as he would not receive payment from the newly contracted company until after a month of service.

Though he and his wife had excellent credit, local banks and credit unions all denied his request for a business loan. Finally, he learned about Accion from a flier at a local small business event and after meeting with an Accion loan officer, quickly applied for a loan. Jorge received a $35,000 loan in order to pay salaries, provide training and purchase new uniforms for his team of security officers. Jorge shared that Accion was critical in helping him bring his business to the next level. “Accion is very business oriented,” he said. “They were very informative and working with them was easy.”