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Suprise Dad with a unique Father’s Day gift – for $50 or less

Your gift will show your Dad how much you care AND you’ll also be supporting Accion
entrepreneurs and their super cool products. Go you!

Guayabera shirt from Debra TorresGuayabera Shirt from Debra Torres

“The guayabera is the most iconic garment in Latin culture. It’s a symbol, like no other, of Latin elegance. And it does something that no other piece of clothing can do: it lets its wearer look polished yet feel comfortable at the same time. The guayabera is steeped in heritage and tradition.” -Debra

Price: $48


Glenroy - Product


Jerk Sauce from The Jerk Cafe

Glenroy’s famous Jamaican Jerk Sauce is made from a recipe he developed in his home country several years ago. His Cape Cod customers rave about this authentic sauce containing a blend of onion, pimento, thyme, garlic, hot peppers, salt, spices, and vinegar.

Price: $10.98



Michel - ProductOlive Dream Gift Basket from Recipiada

Michel’s delicious gift basket features the very best of his products: Iliada Greek olives, Iliada Olive paste, Krinos Kalamata olives, Iliada Green organic pitted olives, Iliada Kalamata organic pitted olives, and Kallisto Kalamata olive paste. Use these as salad dressings, appetizers, or in pasta sauces next time you cook a meal with Dad!

Price: $54.45


Robert Herman’s The New Yorkers

Robert Herman - ProductThrough the lens of my camera, my vulnerability met theirs at the moment of exposure: a photograph of someone whose heart is open to a stranger’s camera says more about a New Yorker than I ever can in say in words.” Robert’s stunning collection of New York City photographs is filled with color and emotion, evoking 27 years of the history, transformation, and spirit of New Yorkers. It will captivate Dad as he flips through the authentic snapshots of both people and places frozen in such a fast-paced city around them.

Price: $45

Show us your gift! Tweet at @AccionEast using #FathersDay and we’ll retweet.

Happy Father’s Day

Nadira_FathersDay“I grew up in Marrakesh, Morocco. Where I come from, men are the face of business. Women play a supporting role. The men run almost all aspects of the business. They work at the markets while the women work from home. I was fortunate to have a father who supported my entrepreneurial dreams. He knew I wanted to own my OWN business, to assert MY independence. And he encouraged me to break out of the mold.” -Nadira, NadiraBag

Happy Father’s Day to all those who support and inspire us to follow our dreams!





Where Dad and Fashion Meet

Header_FathersDayWhen Debra was 11 years old she needed a new outfit for a dance. Unlike most 11 year olds, she did not want to pick something out from the store—she wanted to design something of her own. Debra went to the fabric store to pick her own materials and then to a seamstress to get a custom-made outfit. This childhood experience made a lasting impact on Debra and she began studying under a seamstress.

However, she soon learned that she was more interested in the design aspect than the actual sewing. Growing up, Debra’s exposure to fashion was Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar magazines, and while she loved fashion, she had a limited conception of what it meant to pursue it as a career.

With support from both her parents, Debra went to college and studied journalism, hoping to someday write pieces for magazines like her old favorites. However, as she continued her education, she became interested in pursuing other avenues of the fashion industry. In the back of her mind, there was an idea that kept nagging at her- she wanted to be a designer.

Conflicted between her studies in journalism and her desire to design clothing, Debra was at a crossroads. She turned to her father for advice. He was a man of few words, but always told her how important it was to stay true to herself and follow her own path. “He has allowed me to discover my freedom and for that I am eternally grateful.”

Feeling more confident in her dreams, she began designing. Just like when she was a girl, she had a vision for an original type of clothing to produce. She wanted to go back to her roots and design clothing with ties to her native Cuba. Specifically, she was drawn to the guayabera shirt. “The guayabera is the most iconic garment in Latin culture.  It’s a symbol, like no other, of Latin elegance,” Debra says with beaming pride.

Debra recently relocated to Miami, and is working to grow her business in a new location while still maintaining a base in New York. She took out an Accion loan with plans to expand the focus of her designs to include women’s evening wear. The loan has helped Debra kick-start her expansion and create samples.

As successful as her business has been, Debra acknowledges that being a small business owner is far from easy. It is very hard work, she says, but when you have a dream—something you are so interested in that it won’t leave your mind—you have to follow up on it. And even with all the challenges, there are also little gems. “To see other people wearing your designs,” Debra says, “that is what designers live for!” When Debra reflects on her journey, she is thankful for her parents’ encouragement and her father’s advice. This Father’s Day, Debra told us, “My dad is absolutely my hero.”

You can buy your Dad a guayabera shirt or other products from Accion borrowers here.

Dad: An Artist and Inspiration

Throughout June, we’re celebrating dads who inspire entrepreneurship! Check back throughout the month for memorable quotes, stories and gift guides for Father’s Day.

Natasha_FathersDay“My father had gotten his first degree in art, before continuing on to business. Looking at his work around our house, I would often say, “Dad, maybe you can go back to your art when you retire.” Even though he no longer yearned to make art, that was my dream for him, and at the age of 15, I transformed it into my own dream.” -Natasha of Natasha Wozniak Designs

Read Natasha’s full story about her father & shop for an original jewelry piece inspired by him.

Was your father your inspiration? We want to hear about it. Share your story using #FathersDay.

Making the Most of Life’s Opportunities

Ivonne, owner of Kokoroko Restaurant in Queens, NY

Ivonne, owner of Kokoroko Restaurant in Queens, NY

Opportunities happen every day, but it takes a special person to make something of them. When Ivonne entered a sweepstakes contest, her life was changed forever. She won a vacation to New York City and fell in love with it. “The people, the energy, the intensity – it made me feel alive, “she said with a grin.

A year later, Ivonne made the decision to move to Queens from her native Peru. She found herself job at a Mexican deli. It was a far cry from the teaching jobs she held back  home, but Ivonne reveled in her new responsibilities. She learned accounting, inventory control, marketing, and developed a sense of responsibility for the business.

“I really cared about the deli, but the owners were an older couple and they were exhausted,” she says. Things went downhill when they brought an inexperienced relative to manage the store. The deli fell victim to poor management and it closed soon after. Ivonne found herself at crossroads once more.

“Owning a business is a headache and I spent years caring for other people’s headaches. I wanted my own!” she laughed.

Suddenly, another opportunity presented itself for Ivonne. She noticed a vacancy sign on an old restaurant building. Again Ivonne seized upon an opportunity, signed a lease and registered her new business, Kokoroko. She opened just in time to celebrate Peru’s Independence Day.

Kokoroko quickly became a staple in the community, hosting concerts, birthday parties and karaoke. The restaurant serves hearty Peruvian dishes like Lomo Saltado and Aji de Gallina. However, winter arrived and Kokoroko did not have central heating. As the temperature dropped, so did Kokoroko’s sales.

Ivonne came to Accion 3 months ago. With a $5,000 loan, Ivonne was able to install the heating system Kokoroko needed to survive the winter.

Though she admits that her journey has been unusual, Ivonne is certain that the risks have been worthwhile. “With Kokoroko, I feel finally confident about the future, and the headaches no longer feel like headaches; they’re simply lessons worth learning.”

Story written by Julian De Mayo.

From the Banana Capital to the Capital of the Americas

Santiago started Maintenance Solutions which provides maintenance, janitorial and renovation services.

Santiago started Maintenance Solutions which provides maintenance, janitorial and renovation services.

Santiago is always moving forward. He grew up between the ocean and the Ecuadorean Andes in the city of Machala—a place affectionately referred to as The Banana Capital of the World.  Santiago spent his youth changing jobs, always looking to better himself. This adventurous spirit led him to New York City 25 years ago.

Life in the Big Apple wasn’t everything he had anticipated. Santiago lived with his sister as he struggled to find work. His rudimentary English restricted his options. He felt stuck, but never lost his forward trajectory.

“I made friends with an electrician who taught me the trade,” reminisced Santiago. “I also taught myself plumbing, landscaping and sanitation.”

Santiago joined his friend in providing handyman services for residential buildings. Around this time, he also met Bethsy. They fell in love and got married. It seemed like Santiago was finally ready to lay down roots. But nostalgia tugged at Santiago in the midst of cold and busy New York City. He longed for the familiarity of Ecuador, but knew he wasn’t ready to move back.   Santiago decided to make yet another move.

“I visited my sister who was studying in Miami. The weather and the culture reminded me of home. I really saw myself living there,” Santiago said.

Santiago, Maintenance Solutions

Santiago, Maintenance Solutions

This time, Santiago was more prepared. He used his wealth of skills to launch his own business—Maintenance Solutions. His business provides maintenance, janitorial, and renovation services to apartment complexes. People noticed his skills. His business grew through word of mouth to service more and more complexes. With the increased demand, Santiago needed to invest in hiring employees and equipment to serve more complexes. The catch? He needed money to do so. Though Santiago’s business was strong, he had a limited credit history.

“No one wanted to invest in this type of business,” he observed.

Santiago’s friend told him about Accion, where he worked with a loan officer to paint a full picture of his finances. Accion provided Santiago with the financing he needed to build his credit and invest in his business so he could meet the growing demand for his services.

Santiago has learned a lot of lessons over the years, and faces challenges with the same sense of adventure he displayed in his youth. And while he has settled his roots for the time being, he dreams of one day returning to Ecuador.

“I’ve learned so many skills in this country that I hope to one day share with people back home.”

Ordem e Progresso: Building Brazilian Community in Boston

Basil by Augusto Janiscki Junior (Source: Flickr)

Basil by Augusto Janiscki Junior (Source: Flickr)

The green, yellow and blue Brazilian flag is hard to miss when walking through the neighborhood of Framingham, MA. It hangs on store awnings, front porches and above churches. The flag’s motto reads Ordem e Progresso. Order and progress. It’s fitting for the town’s dominant immigrant group. They come from across Brazil—Minas Gerais, São Paulo, and Espírito Santo—to build better lives and find better jobs. For progress.

Massachusetts might not seem like a natural fit for Brazilian immigrants, especially with the frigid temperatures that New England is currently facing, but Boston’s Brazilian community has been growing strong over the last 30 years. In fact, it’s the primary destination in the United States for Brazilian immigrants. The rich community life in neighborhoods like Framingham is a big part of the reason why.

According to the US Census Bureau’s 2008 Community Survey, immigrants made up about a quarter of Framingham’s population, with the largest group being from Brazil. At Accion, 40% of our small business clients in the Boston area are Brazilian, a fact that’s not surprising to our staff. “These individuals see entrepreneurship as a way of improving their lives and their family’s lives,” notes Rodrigo Cerveira, Manager of Lending at Accion East.

This trend is not unique to Accion. Brazilian small business owners in Boston are four times as likely to start a business than their native-born counterparts. Why? At least in part, it’s the perfect confluence of external factors and personality types that might be pre-disposed to taking risks.

“In order to start your own business, you have to be comfortable with a certain level of risk. It’s not for everyone. Someone that comes to a new country, someone who is willing to pack up their life and re-settle somewhere foreign is more likely to be comfortable with risk,” says Victoria Richardson, Senior Development Officer at Accion.

Additionally, jobs can be hard to come by. “Brazilian clients look for alternatives to limited job prospects once moving to the U.S. because their Bachelor degrees do not translate,” says Rodrigo. However even though they may not be able to work in their field “they use the knowledge and tools from their education to become successful business owners.”

The existing Brazilian small business community provides a plethora of support networks, making entrepreneurship an appealing and accessible option. Brazilians are often able to recognize localized needs in their communities, along with the opportunity to fill that need. Accion clients and brothers Esteban and Sebastián Perez offer the Latino community a taste of home with the products that they grew up with through their grocery supply business, Posible Import & Distribution. After procuring an exclusive order to supply Latino products to over 150 stores in a well-known grocery chain, and with the help of an Accion loan to purchase inventory and hire a driver, the Boston market is providing a promising future for the brothers.

“Accion East has a really important role to play in this,” explains Rodrigo. “As one of the only organizations in Boston serving the Brazilian small business community, we’re a critical source of capital and educational resources. There is a lot of wrong information spread across the community. We help individuals better understand their financial options in order to avoid falling into the trap of predatory lending. We also help with the building blocks of business finance, from opening a bank account, to more complex support like helping businesses receive certification. These financial counseling services are as important as capital itself. They enable our clients to make informed financial decisions that lead to reduced debt, improved personal credit and the creation of assets.”

Lana Garcia, owner, Gula Cake Shop at work  in Everett, MA

Lana Garcia, owner, Gula Cake Shop at work in Everett, MA

Because of these services, Accion has been able to help Brazilians like Lana Garcia open their businesses. Lana was born in Brazil to a family of artisan bakers. When Lana immigrated to Boston she continued the family tradition of baking and took culinary courses to expand her skills; eventually opening Gula Cake Shop. A loan from Accion helped Lana renovate her storefront to appeal to the new clientele she was attracting through the marketing efforts that she learned from Accion workshops.

There are dozens of stories like Lana’s, Esteban’s and Sebastián’s. The entrepreneurial spirit—the willingness to bet on oneself—shows no signs of slowing in Boston’s Brazilian communities. For these individuals, progress continues to be an appropriate motto for country and home.

Ottavio is an artist. He worked many years as a mason contractor perfecting his eye for detail. Fourteen years ago, Ottavio decided to take his passion for art and open up his own business. Ottavio started Accurate Graphics, a company specializing in corporate and custom signage.

kiva pic

Ottavio employs nine people.

Year after year, Ottavio built a steady clientele with his exceptional customer service. He focused on quick turn-around and innovative designs. The contracts he received grew larger and larger. Ottavio will never forget the day he laid the finish line for the Boston Marathon.

Ottavio Bolognese_Finish Line

Ottavio’s team made  the Boston Marathon finish line.

As his business grew, Ottavio put together a skillful team of designers, technicians, retail and sales experts. Yet, keeping up with Accurate Graphic’s growth has not always been easy. During the recession, Ottavio struggled to access funds to keep the business open. He poured most of his savings into the business, which hurt him financially.

Through his perseverance, Ottavio’s business survived the recession. Always looking to the future, Ottavio approached a TD Bank representative  for advice on financing his business.

“I needed to build my credit back to where it was,” explained Ottavio.

After listening to Ottavio, the representative recognized that Accion’s loan programs would suit Ottavio’s situation. Kara referred Ottavio to Accion, where he worked with an Accion Loan Consultant. Ottavio received a small loan from Accion which will strengthen his finances to ensure that Accurate Graphics continues to grow.

Today, Accurate Graphics employs nine individuals, including one of Ottavio’s grandsons. “My vision for the future is to give my grandson a legacy and ensure that my employees continue to have jobs with the family.”

The Color of Joy

When Veronica Watts was 13, she painted her mom’s bedroom and knew that she had found her calling. She had dabbled with painting under the instruction of her grandfather for a few years, but the joy she brought to her mom with a fresh coat of paint that day was a game changer. It had seemed a simple act going into it, but seeing the impact it made on her mother made her want to do more. “I was really encouraged by my mother. She was a really big motivator in my life.”

Over the years, Veronica worked with different contractors and family members to develop her skills. Painting had become her passion. It had become her life. It was her creative outlet and a way for her to bring joy to others. Eventually, she decided to open her own business; painting would now also be how she provided for herself and her family.


Veronica hard at work

However, it was far from easy getting to where she is now. Being a woman in a mostly male-dominated field was difficult. “At the beginning it was hard because I felt like I always had something to prove, but you keep working and eventually they can’t say anything about it.” Veronica brought her incredible work ethic to each job, and remained committed to just being herself. “You have to be serious about your brand. When you are, you’ll do well.”

Veronica sees the good and potential in everyone. In 2011, she established Operation Brush Up – a training program that sought out troubled youths and adults and taught them her craft. Through the program, she hoped to share some of what her mom gave her: good work ethics, self-confidence and positive energy. She fondly talked about this program and its impact on others, saying that “there are a lot of people with potential who just need a chance.” This wonderful optimism is reflected in their slogan: Let’s pick up a paint brush and brush up our lives!

Veronica mixes plaster before beginning to paint.

Veronica mixes plaster before beginning to paint.

Her life and career have always been about helping others. After establishing her business, she knew she wanted the best care possible for her family and employees. She wanted to provide them with access to health insurance. She needed to invest in her company in order to do that; she needed to grow. She knew she would need a loan to invest in her business, but didn’t have the credit to go to the traditional route.

Veronica reached out to an organization to help her develop her credit, who in turn directed her to Accion for a loan request. With her loan from Accion, Veronica has not only been able to grow her business, she also improved her own financial position and helped her employees get one step closer to improving theirs—by starting the process of enrolling them in a company healthcare plan.

“God gives everyone talents. We must use them until the wheels fall off or we will fall off.”

Shop Small on Small Business Saturday

Happy Small Business Saturday! Treat yourself to local goodies and find unique gifts for your loved ones on this Small Business Saturday. Now in its fourth year, Small Business Saturday was created to support  local businesses across the nation  It is a  meaningful way to connect with your community, create jobs and keep the local economy vibrant! Here are 5 Accion clients that you can shop small from:

Beehive Oven, NY

Beehive Oven: www.beehiveoven.com.

Run by Texans in NY, Beehive Oven makes biscuits the old-fashioned way, with care and quality ingredients.  They make biscuits in a variety of flavors from savory to sweet, and are always developing new creative recipes that respect the heritage of the humble biscuit. Order biscuits for your holiday dinners online now:


Traditional Mexican hot chocolate has an intense cocoa flavor and slightly granular texture, the result of the artisan chocolate-making process. Experience what it’s like to make “chocolate de mesa” the way it’s done “en Mexico” with an HERNÁN Mexican Hot Chocolate Gift Set! Perfect for the coming cold winter nights. Available now at Food52.

Marilyn Tov, NY

This unique line of children’s clothing captures the memories of Marilyn Tov’s magical childhood in Paris and brings them to life in a graceful, and remarkably wearable, collection. Based in New York and made in the US, Marilyn Tov now has a new line: women’s clothing! Moms always wished their children’s outfits also came in adult sizes, and Marilyn Tov has made this wish come true!..

Felicity Sweets, MA

Felicity Sweets: http://felicitysweets.com/

Felicity Sweets is a neighborhood gem featuring a little something for everyone. More than just candy, they are a complete gift boutique store providing those “hard-to-finds” for that special occasion. From Lake Champlain chocolates to beautiful jewelry, owner Sarah Horton wants to share her favorite things with Boston’s South End.

Carmen and Lola, FL

Carmen and Lola was named after two grandmothers with a passion for gourmet Spanish food.  iThis business was created not only with the goal of exporting the traditional flavors of Spain, but also to elevate Spanish cuisine to the international level of prestige it deserves. . Check out the company’s social media page,  to learn how to make the perfect paella and tempting tapas. Shop now to win a gift basket!

Looking for more businesses to shop small from? Check out our marketplace.