Wednesday, October 10, 2012

GEPermit: Navigating the Environmental Permit Process

Growing up surrounded by beautiful architecture in her hometown of Isatnbul, Turkey, Accion client Gulsum Rustemoglu has always appreciated beautiful public spaces and architecture. After arriving to the United States 14 years ago, her childhood appreciation for aesthetic beauty led her to pursue a master’s in city planning from San Diego State University and a career in environmental planning.

After losing her job as an environmental consultant for a large environmental planning firm, Gulsum decided to become her own boss and founded Global Environmental Permitting (GEPermit) in July 2009. Gulsum chose the name Global Environmental Permit because she ultimately wants to expand her business to the global stage.

GEPermit is a woman-owned environmental consulting firm specializing in renewable energy, environmental permitting and compliance throughout the U.S.  New development projects must secure certain permits in order to ensure that all environmental protection laws are being followed. Laws vary from state-to-state and are often very complicated and confusing. That’s where GEPermit comes to the rescue by helping developers, governments and communities work together to create new development projects that make a limited environmental impact.
Gulsum began GEPermit from her home office and experienced early success, but felt that capital limitations were preventing the company’s growth. Not being able to secure financing through traditional means, she found Accion through extensive research and quickly realized that Accion could help. Through her entire loan process, she felt that her loan was not just based on her company’s financial numbers, but on the total value and potential of her and her company.

In January 2012, Gulsom received a $15,000 Accion loan to help her purchase much needed computer software, move into a new office space, and hire additional staff. “The biggest challenge of being a business owner is that I am responsible for all aspects of the business,” shared Gulsum.  Before her Accion loan, Gulsum not only had to fulfill client requests, but also had to manage the accounting, taxes, and marketing of her business. However, with her Accion loan, Gulsum was able to hire additional support staff, growing her staff team to 7 people made up of part-time employees and interns.  Furthermore, GEPermit has recently moved from Gulsum’s home office to a 460 square foot office in Murphy Canyon.

Hiring additional staff has given Gulsum the margin she needs to creatively expand her business and get some much needed personal time.  Her business’ stable growth will allow her to travel back home to Istanbul to visit family and participate in a very exciting half-marathon which will cross the Bosphorus Bridge to the European side of her home town. 

Gulsum would like to encourage other small-business owners to be courageous, to stick to their goals and reach for their dreams.  When asked what aspiring entrepreneurs needed to know before they started, she answered, “They need to know that there are resources out there to help them reach their goals like Accion”.

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