Shannen needed to purchase better equipment to grow her business. Thanks to our partnership with Lending Club, we’re helping Shannen reach her goals with our small business loans.

Our customers inspire us every day, and we want to regularly share those stories to inspire you, too. Read about Shannen Enos of Enos CPR Services. Shannen needed to purchase better equipment to grow her business. Thanks to our partnership with Lending Club, we’re helping Shannen reach her goals with our small business loans.

A Hands-on Entrepreneur

Shannen Enos started her CPR and first aid training business, Enos CPR Services, in August 2007. As an independent contractor for the American Heart Association, Shannen uses her decades of experience as a registered nurse to teach an essential life saving skill.

Through Enos CPR, Shannen provides training for companies that ask their employees to become certified in CPR, first aid, and automated external defibrillator (AED) use. Her work has taken her to teach at workplaces all around the Bay Area plus six states outside of California.

Like many small business owners, Shannen does it all for her company. On top of running her training classes, she’s the one who balances the books, maintains schedules, and develops client relationships. She also works part time as an emergency room nurse at Kaiser Walnut Creek.

Shannen knows what she needs to keep her business running well, so when she reached out to lenders to find a small business loan, she was surprised to run into several obstacles to funding.

“I needed to upgrade my equipment to offer more in-depth classes,” Shannen said. “Every single place I turned to for lending shut the door on me. They didn’t see my business growth. I never pay my bills late. I represent myself well as a business owner and a person. It felt like those lenders weren’t giving me a chance to prove it.”

She almost gave up. Then she tried one more lender.

Growing a Healthy Business

Shannen came to Opportunity Fund through our partnership with Lending Club. Based on her previous experience in business lending, she came into the process feeling skeptical.

“I figured Opportunity Fund was another company that would shut the door on me,” she said. “Opportunity Fund got back to me the very next day, apologizing for my bad experiences and saying they wanted to help.”

We worked with Shannen to close a $15,000 loan in May 2016–the first ever loan in our Lending Club partnership!

Shannen Enos - Enos CPR Services

Shannen keeps her students engaged through hands-on instruction and real world life-saving lessons (photo courtesy of Christian Peacock)

“I never knew how difficult it would be to get funding,” Shannen said. “With Opportunity Fund. I didn’t feel pushed aside. We had conversations about me as a person and me as a business owner.”

Now that Shannen has the working capital she needs for her business, she can focus on helping others learn CPR and potentially save a life. She even taught a class for our staff at Opportunity Fund’s San Jose headquarters in November 2016.

We’re proud to support hardworking entrepreneurs who make a difference, and we’re happy to help Shannen grow her business.


We hope this story has inspired you, too.  At Opportunity Fund, we offer easy-to-get, fast, and affordable small business loans to help small business owners succeed.  Visit our home page to find out more.

Opportunity Fund is California’s largest and fastest-growing nonprofit lender to small businesses. In fiscal year ’16, we made $60M in loans to help more than 2,200 small business owners invest in their businesses. Opportunity Fund invests in small business owners who do not have access to traditional financing. As a founding member and signatory to the Borrower’s Bill of Rights, we believe in the important role small businesses play in our community and the economy, and we aim to help owners financially succeed.

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Roan wanted to grow her art studio into a hub for local artists. Thanks to three small business loans from Opportunity Fund, The Arsenal is opening a new studio and gallery in San Jose’s Japantown.

Our customers inspire us every day, and we want to regularly share those stories to inspire you, too. Get to know Roan Victor of The Arsenal in San Jose. Roan wanted to grow her art studio into a hub for local artists. Thanks to three small business loans from Opportunity Fund, The Arsenal is opening a new studio and gallery in San Jose’s Japantown.

Creating Connections in the San Jose Art Community

Roan Victor started The Arsenal in the summer of 2011. Roan and her husband Sean Boyles, both artists based in San Jose, chose to open an art studio and gallery in their hometown.

The Arsenal offers art classes and workshops to artists in the community of all ages and skill levels. “We work with all kinds of people,” Roan said. “Seniors would come in to buy oil paints, and at the same time, younger guys would come in to buy spray paint. They would all interact with each other. It was fun to bring different cultures and ages together.”

Roan’s vision for her business included a move to their dream location in San Jose’s Japantown, for the community art connections, walkable neighborhood, and strong small business network. First, she needed a small business loan to help The Arsenal grow.

Her business banker at Bank of America was focused more on the financial success of The Arsenal, which didn’t meet her needs as a small business owner. “Our goal is to have a significant contribution to the art community in San Jose,” she said.

Opportunity Fund Helps The Arsenal Stay in the Picture

Bank of America connected Roan to Opportunity Fund loan consultant Laly Velazquez, who was able to close a $4,000 loan in September 2014 for The Arsenal. The funds helped Roan set up a new classroom space with proper lighting. Roan paid off the loan in less than a year and applied for a second loan of $8,000 in June 2015, which helped replace and maintain equipment like their silk screen machine.

Roan came back for a third loan this January for $8,000 to help move The Arsenal to Japantown. Roan and Sean are working with Roan’s sister Regine to prepare their new space for a grand re-opening this summer. With their new space, The Arsenal can offer studio space to local artists, plus more classes and workshops featuring artists from the area and a brand new art gallery.

Roan Victor - The Arsenal

Roan is a teacher, a business leader, and an advocate for her community arts scene (photo courtesy of Heimo Schmidt)

Laly’s help through the loan process made a difference for Roan. “Sean and I both went to school for art so we don’t have a business background,” Roan said. “Working with Laly is like talking to a friend. She shows me what to do and how Opportunity Fund can help.”

Roan sees The Arsenal as a part of Japantown’s thriving arts scene and business community. “Our goal is to have a great studio with everything artists need, like what I had when I was studying painting at San Jose State,” she said. “I want to build a hub where artists with different experiences can work together.”

We’re proud to support Roan’s dreams to build The Arsenal into a community hub for artists and creators.

We hope this story has inspired you, too.  At Opportunity Fund, we offer easy-to-get, fast, and affordable small business loans to help small business owners succeed.  Visit our home page to find out more.


Opportunity Fund is California’s largest and fastest-growing nonprofit lender to small businesses. Last year, we made $60M in loans to help more than 2,200 small business owners invest in their businesses.  Opportunity Fund invests in small business owners who do not have access to traditional financing. As a founding member and signatory to the Borrower’s Bill of Rights, we believe in the important role small businesses play in our community and the economy, and we aim to help owners financially succeed.

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Jimmy is working to expand his Mexican food franchise in Santa Clara County. Iguana’s is set to open in its fifth location in South San Jose thanks to a small business loan from Opportunity Fund.

Our customers inspire us every day, and we want to regularly share those stories to inspire you, too.  Read about Jimmy Orozco of Iguana’s Burritozilla in San Jose. Jimmy is working to expand his Mexican food franchise in Santa Clara County. Thanks to a small business loan from Opportunity Fund, Iguana’s is set to open in its fifth location in South San Jose.

Made in San Jose

Iguana’s Burritozilla has been a part of the San Jose business landscape since 1994. Current CEO Jimmy Orozco started working in his uncle’s restaurant, the flagship location in downtown San Jose, when he was in high school. Since the beginning, Iguana’s has been a family owned and operated business, with Jimmy’s siblings and cousins all working together as co-owners of the franchise with four locations in Santa Clara County.

The Orozco family has built Iguana’s into a famous brand, with appearances on Travel Channel and Food Network programs. They also invest in the community by hiring staff from the neighborhoods where they open new stores and funding deejays for local high school dances.

Iguana’s success has always come from within, with Jimmy and the rest of the family bringing a “do it yourself” spirit to work every day. When Jimmy started thinking about small business financing to help open a new location in South San Jose, he needed a solution that worked for his business.

“We were turned down by a bunch of lenders,” Jimmy said. “None of them really seemed to understand the growth of our business.”

Jimmy found Opportunity Fund through the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative, a research program at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business that explores and expands knowledge of the Latino entrepreneurship segment in California’s economy through research, knowledge dissemination, and facilitated collaboration. Opportunity Fund plus Iguana’s turned out to be the perfect recipe for success.

Big Burritos Equal Big Business

Opportunity Fund business development officer Shanna McClearn started working with Jimmy to get the funding he needed to open the new location. The $250,000 loan we closed in February 2017 made a major difference for Iguana’s.

“Without Opportunity Fund, we would probably be doing the same thing but with a little more strain on the company,” Jimmy said of their expansion. “Now we don’t have to worry so much, because the capital is there.”

Shanna’s guidance throughout the loan process was also a huge help. “Working with Shanna was refreshing and surprising, and unexpected,” Jimmy said. “She took the time to understand our business. She gets the entire picture of what we’re doing. The communication was easy and quick.”

Jimmy and Shanna - Iguana's

Jimmy and Shanna closed their deal with a handshake and an invitation to lunch (photo courtesy of Heimo Schmidt)

The new location is fast tracked for a spring grand opening, with more locations to come. Jimmy is focused on his hometown community as always, but he’s also looking to expand to locations outside Santa Clara County in the future.

“We serve college students, high school kids, local business people, locals, you name it,” Jimmy said. “Anybody who wants good food in a fun environment is welcome here.”

We’re proud to support successful local entrepreneurs like Jimmy and honored to serve family-owned small businesses. We’re especially looking forward to grabbing a taco at Iguana’s new location.

We hope this story has inspired you, too.  At Opportunity Fund, we offer easy-to-get, fast, and affordable small business loans to help small business owners succeed.  Visit our home page to find out more.


Opportunity Fund is California’s largest and fastest-growing nonprofit lender to small businesses. Last fiscal year, we made $60M in loans to help more than 2,200 small business owners invest in their businesses.  Opportunity Fund invests in small business owners who do not have access to traditional financing. As a founding member and signatory to the Borrower’s Bill of Rights, we believe in the important role small businesses play in our community and the economy, and we aim to help owners financially succeed.

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Maria Villarreal runs Cosmetica Latina, a successful cosmetology school in Downey. She is also a leader in the Latino business community. We helped her refinance a high interest predatory loan so she can focus on expanding her business.

Our customers inspire us every day, and we want to regularly share those stories to inspire you, too. This week, read about Maria Villarreal of Cosmetica Latina in Downey. Maria runs a successful cosmetology school and is a leader in the Latino business community. We helped her refinance a high interest predatory loan so she can focus on expanding her business.

A Leader in Education

Maria started Cosmetica Latina in 2002 in Downey. The cosmetology school has strong ties to the Latino community and supports students throughout their studies with hands-on instruction, internships in the field, and real world business skills. The school has 25 employees as instructors and administrators and has graduated over 70 students with skills in barbering, cosmetology, and esthetics.

Maria has a long history as a responsible business borrower. Our non-profit community partner AMPAC Tri-State CDC helped Maria get started with a 504 Small Business Association loan to buy the building she was renting for her school.

She needed another small business loan to help expand her school through advertising, so she took out a merchant cash advance loan. Soon she found her cash flow drained under the weight of high monthly payments.

“When I signed up for that loan, I thought I was getting low interest financing,” Maria said. “I wanted to build my credit with that loan, but they didn’t report on my credit.”

Fighting for Fair Loan Practices

AMPAC connected Maria to us when she needed help refinancing her predatory MCA loan. Opportunity Fund Community Development Officer Robert Zapata helped Maria get the $50,000 loan she needed to pay off the loan. Our commitment to providing easy-to-get, fast, and affordable loans included a fight with Maria’s MCA lender.

“They offered a lower interest rate to keep me,” Maria said. “They wouldn’t release the payoff letter to Opportunity Fund either.”

Cosmetica Latina - Robert and Maria

Maria shakes hands with Opportunity Fund Community Development Officer Robert Zapata at Cosmetica Latina headquarters (photo courtesy of ROF Industries)

By refinancing Maria’s high interest MCA loan, we were able to reduce her monthly payment from $6,000 to  $1,600. The extra cash flow allows her to reinvest in marketing.

Maria is thankful to work with us as she rebuilds her business lending profile. “Opportunity Fund was completely transparent,” she said. “They helped me understand the loan process and showed me I wasn’t the only one who gets stuck with these very high interest loans.”

Maria is taking her negative lending experiences and turning them into positive actions within the community. She shares her story among her network of small business owners so they don’t fall into the traps that target entrepreneurs.

“I want to make the community aware of financing options and help them make good lending decisions,” she said.

Maria is a prime example of the borrowers we help: community leaders and responsible business borrowers. We’re honored to support Cosmetica Latina.

We hope this story has inspired you, too.  At Opportunity Fund, we offer easy-to-get, fast, and affordable small business loans to help small business owners succeed.  Visit our home page to find out more.


Opportunity Fund is California’s largest and fastest-growing nonprofit lender to small businesses. Last fiscal year, we made $60M in loans to help more than 2,200 small business owners invest in their businesses.  Opportunity Fund invests in small business owners who do not have access to traditional financing. As a founding member and signatory to the Borrower’s Bill of Rights, we believe in the important role small businesses play in our community and the economy, and we aim to help owners financially succeed.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Nelda and Gammie Vargas had all the right tools to start their own Filipino restaurant, but couldn’t get funding. Opportunity Fund helped GNC Kusina Atbp grow with two small business loans.

Our customers inspire us every day, and we want to regularly share those stories to inspire you, too. Get to know Nelda and Gammie Vargas of GNC Kusina Atbp in Sacramento. Nelda and Gammie had all the right tools to start their own Filipino restaurant, but couldn’t get funding. Read how we helped them grow their business with two small business loans.

A Fresh Business Idea

Nelda and Gammie Vargas started their own Filipino restaurant, GNC Kusina Atpb, in 2014. Gammie has over 30 years of experience as a professional chef at restaurants like Morton’s The Steakhouse. Nelda studied accounting in the Philippines. The time was right for them to start a business.

GNC Kusina Atbp is unique in Sacramento: a restaurant/grocery store where you can pop in for a freshly cooked traditional Filipino breakfast or pick up staples like house-made pork rinds for your home pantry.

As a first time business owner, Nelda has worked through challenges to make her restaurant successful. “It was hard at first starting because we had no background with starting a restaurant business,” she said.  “We’re doing better now. We’re focused on introducing our food to new customers.”

Nelda Vargas - GNC Kusina

Nelda proudly serves authentic Filipino food (photo courtesy of Heimo Schmidt)

GNC Kusina Atbp is the only source of income for Nelda and Gammie. “This is our bread and butter,” she said. “Our business helps us pay our bills, our house payments, our utilities, everything. We’re doing well.”

Soon Nelda started looking for small business loans to help secure cash flow for the business. A unique business like GNC Kusina Atbp required a unique funding source. Opportunity Fund was the right fit.

Funding A Family Restaurant

Nelda went to her Wells Fargo business banker, who connected her to Opportunity Fund. Once she talked to loan consultant Madieu Shyllon, she knew we were the right choice for her business.

“Madieu came to my business and approved my first loan,” she said. “My credit wasn’t good when I first applied for loans. It’s hard to get approved for a small business loan without a business profile. I just started my business and couldn’t pay to hire someone to prepare my profile.”

The $10,000 loan helped Nelda purchase a new freezer unit in August 2015. Madieu closed a second loan in January 2017 for $15,000 to help with cash flow.

Nelda values her working relationship with Madieu. “He’s there whenever I call him,” she said. “Sometimes he comes all the way from the Bay Area just to visit us and see how we’re doing, even if he doesn’t have business in the area.”

Nelda is looking to the future of her restaurant. She hopes to call on us again when she needs working capital. We’ll be there to help GNC Kusina Atbp serve up fresh Filipino favorites.

We hope this story has inspired you, too.  At Opportunity Fund, we offer easy-to-get, fast, and affordable small business loans to help small business owners succeed.  Visit our home page to find out more.


Opportunity Fund is California’s largest and fastest-growing nonprofit lender to small businesses. Last fiscal year, we made $60M in loans to help more than 2,200 small business owners invest in their businesses.  Opportunity Fund invests in small business owners who do not have access to traditional financing. As a founding member and signatory to the Borrower’s Bill of Rights, we believe in the important role small businesses play in our community and the economy, and we aim to help owners financially succeed.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Traditional lenders said no to Aurora when she applied for business loans, but we said yes. Read how we helped transform her business and stay on time with her payments.

Our customers inspire us every day, and we want to regularly share those stories to inspire you, too.  This week, read about Aurora Garibay of Bridal & Tuxedo World in Watsonville. Traditional lenders said no to Aurora when she applied for business loans, but we said yes. Read how we helped transform her business and stay on time with her payments.

Formalizing the Business

Aurora Garibay started as an entrepreneur by making and selling flower arrangements in her home in Watsonville. When she heard about a bridal shop for sale through a contact at El Pajaro Community Development Center, she took a chance and purchased her first storefront business in 2010.

Aurora runs that business, Bridal & Tuxedo World on Main Street, with her sister. Aurora handles sales and rentals plus customer service while her sister does alterations for garments. Even with 10 years in the business and a highly visible shop, times were tough for Aurora.

“I needed to stock up on inventory months head of the bridal and first holy communion season,” Aurora said. “I applied at several banks. All of them said I didn’t qualify because of my low credit score.”

The Opportunity Fund micro lending team connected with her was able to provide fast financing for her business.

Opportunity Fund Says “Yes” to Small Business

Loan consultant Miguel Angel Barreras walked into Bridal & Tuxedo World shortly after Opportunity Fund expanded our lending services to Monterey County in March 2013. He was committed to working with Aurora to get the financing she needed.

“I told him I did not have good credit,” she said. “He offered to start an application for me, and then qualified me for my first loan of two thousand dollars.”

Aurora was able to purchase more dresses and materials with the micro loan and soon was making more revenue. The increase in business allowed her to catch up payments on her loans and improve her credit score.

“There were times when I chose to pay Opportunity Fund before I paid another accounts, because you believed in me,” she said. “Now my store is fully stocked and I’m caught up on all my bills.”

Aurora took out a second loan for $4,000 in January 2015 to help expand Bridal & Tuxedo World’s business to offer decorations like linens, place settings, and flower arrangements.

“My customers come in looking for a one stop shop,” Aurora said. “I want to offer that to them.”

Since then, Aurora has taken out two more loans, for $4,000 and $5,000 respectively. The working capital has helped give her business a fighting chance. She’s grateful for Miguel Angel and her current loan consultant Griselda Gil-Solis for believing in her business and for helping her build her credit.

Bridal & Tuxedo World - Aurora Garibay

Aurora shakes hands with her Opportunity Fund loan consultant, Griselda Gil-Solis (photo courtesy of Heimo Schmidt)

“I’m very happy with Opportunity Fund,” she said. “Even if I have a balance on my loan, they’re willing to consider me for another loan when I need it. Griselda is respectful and efficient and made everything go so fast.”

See how we helped Aurora grow her business in this video:

We hope this story has inspired you, too.  At Opportunity Fund, we offer easy-to-get, fast, and affordable small business loans to help small business owners succeed.  Visit our home page to find out more.


Opportunity Fund is California’s largest and fastest-growing nonprofit lender to small businesses. Last fiscal year, we made $60M in loans to help more than 2,200 small business owners invest in their businesses.  Opportunity Fund invests in small business owners who do not have access to traditional financing. As a founding member and signatory to the Borrower’s Bill of Rights, we believe in the important role small businesses play in our community and the economy, and we aim to help owners financially succeed.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Don started a food truck business with nothing but a dream and concept for military-styled food. After winning a Food Network competition, Mess Hall Canteen needed financing to buy their custom built food truck. A loan from Opportunity Fund helped cover the purchase and now Mess Hall Canteen is rolling to bigger success all over Orange County.  

Our customers inspire us every day, and we want to regularly share those stories to inspire you, too.  This week, read about Don McPeck of Mess Hall Canteen in Orange County. Don started a food truck business with nothing but a dream and concept for military-styled food. After winning a Food Network competition, Mess Hall Canteen needed financing to buy their custom built food truck. A loan from Opportunity Fund helped cover the purchase and now Mess Hall Canteen is rolling to bigger success all over Orange County.  

Starting (& Cooking) From Scratch

Don McPeck started his business with only an idea. His gourmet food truck, Mess Hall Canteen, got started thanks to The Food Network. An appearance on the show Food Truck Faceoff gave Mess Hall Canteen a vehicle—in more ways than one.

Don and his son Jake drew on their dreams and goals of starting a business together based on Don’s military service and Jake’s expertise as a chef. They took their idea for mess hall styled munchies to Food Network’s show in 2014 and won the two-day competition against another food truck in Venice Beach.

Their prize was a one-year lease on the custom-built truck provided by the competition. After the lease was up, Don needed financing to purchase the truck. Their truck came from food truck manufacturer Kareem Carts, also one of Opportunity Fund’s food truck manufacturer and vendor partners. Kareem Carts connected Don to us to talk financing.

“Opportunity Fund helped us continue our business,” Don said. “We didn’t have the money to buy the truck outright. Opportunity Fund made it happen for us.”

Fueling Success

Our loan consultant Salvador Lopez started working with Don in June 2016 to secure the $77,000 loan he needed to purchase his truck. Don and Salvador working together was the perfect pairing.

“Salvador made it really easy to get financing,” Don said. “It was almost seamless. The next thing we knew, the loan was approved.”

Mess Hall Canteen’s food speaks for itself, with loaded tater tots and stacked grilled cheese sandwiches that are almost larger than life. Don credits their success not just to Chef Jake’s impeccable palate, but also to a social media blitz that put Mess Hall Canteen on the map.

Mess Hall Canteen - menu

Don shows off the Mess Hall Canteen menu (photo courtesy of ROF Industries)

Don used his Army background to brand his business. He also uses his veteran status to reach out to veterans in Orange County. Mess Hall Canteen hires veterans to work in the business and provides fundraising for veterans organizations like Patriots & Paws through donations from their tip jar and proceeds from T-shirt sales.

Mess Hall Canteen is looking to expand in the next year with at least one new food truck and several exciting opportunities, including a potential spot at Downtown Disney. “I hope Opportunity Fund will help us in the next step of our operation,” Don said.

We’re honored to serve hardworking, mission-oriented veteran entrepreneurs like Don with our easy-to-get, fast, and affordable small business loans.

We hope this story has inspired you, too.  At Opportunity Fund, we offer easy-to-get, fast, and affordable small business loans to help small business owners succeed.  Visit our home page to find out more.


Opportunity Fund is California’s largest and fastest-growing nonprofit lender to small businesses. Last fiscal year, we made $60M in loans to help more than 2,200 small business owners invest in their businesses.  Opportunity Fund invests in small business owners who do not have access to traditional financing. As a founding member and signatory to the Borrower’s Bill of Rights, we believe in the important role small businesses play in our community and the economy, and we aim to help owners financially succeed.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Natalie couldn’t get a loan as a young entrepreneur. Opportunity Fund said yes to her experience and knowledge in the party supply business. Now as a repeat borrower, Universe Party Supply in Watsonville is set for more success.

Our customers inspire us every day, and we want to regularly share those stories to inspire you, too.  This week, read about Natalie Angulo of Universe Party Supply in Watsonville. Natalie couldn’t get a loan as a young entrepreneur. Opportunity Fund said yes to her experience and knowledge in the party supply business. Now as a repeat borrower, Universe Party Supply in Watsonville is set for more success.

Getting the Party Started

Natalie Angulo has been in the party supply business for most of her life. It made sense for her to open her own party supply store in Watsonville when she turned 18. She started Universe Party Supply with her expertise in the business and with support from her family, but she didn’t always have the funding and administrative help she needed.

“I started at a really young age,” Natalie said. “Nobody believed I had my own business, even though I had all my identification and paperwork.”

Now 24, Natalie manages Universe Party Supply with the help of her cousin. Natalie’s two siblings also work in the store.

“It’s a family business,” she said. “My parents helped me build the business. My brothers and sisters go to school during the week and help on the weekends.”

Natalie manages the store and attends classes at Hartnell College in Salinas, working in shifts with her cousin who does the same work/school routine. She’s studying graphic design and business while preparing to transfer to San Jose State University and plans to run her business while finishing her degree.

Funding Small Business Owners

Natalie had trouble finding financing for her business, due to her very young age and no credit history as a new entrepreneur.  “Nobody wanted to lend me money,” she said. “They all assumed I had no chance of paying the loan back.”

Natalie’s father, Carlos, runs Galaxy Party Supply in Salinas. He became an Opportunity Fund small business borrower in 2013. Natalie recalls the day she learned about Opportunity Fund:

“We went to the Opportunity Fund office in San Jose where they offered a loan to my dad,” she said with a smile. “I qualified for my first loan after him.”

Opportunity Fund Loan consultant Laly Velazquez helped Natalie get her first loan of $3,000 in May 2013. She used the capital to expand her product offerings. “We started out making piñatas and selling candy,” she said. “After we made more money, we started renting out linens. Then we added party supplies and balloons.”

Natalie quickly paid off her loan and came back for two more loans: $4,900 in 2014 and $5,000 in 2016. Thanks to loan consultant Griselda Gil-Solis, Natalie got the additional money she needed to make Universe Party Supply a full-service party supply store with custom balloon decorations and jumper rental and set-up.

Natalie Angulo - Universe Party Supply

Natalie shares the fun with her loan consultant, Griselda-Gil Solis (photo courtesy of Heimo Schmidt)

Natalie has big plans as she continues to expand her business. She wants a bigger space for her store and to purchase another delivery van to help with balloon deliveries. She’ll call on Opportunity Fund again to get the capital she needs.

We hope this story has inspired you, too.  At Opportunity Fund, we offer easy-to-get, fast, and affordable small business loans to help small business owners succeed.  Visit our home page to find out more.


Opportunity Fund is California’s largest and fastest-growing nonprofit lender to small businesses. Last fiscal year, we made $60M in loans to help more than 2,200 small business owners invest in their businesses.  Opportunity Fund invests in small business owners who do not have access to traditional financing. As a founding member and signatory to the Borrower’s Bill of Rights, we believe in the important role small businesses play in our community and the economy, and we aim to help owners financially succeed.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Cynthia started her first restaurant at age 17. Now at age 24, she owns multiple restaurants around the Bay Area. A working capital loan from Opportunity Fund is helping power her success in a tough industry.

Our customers inspire us every day, and we want to regularly share those stories to inspire you, too.  This week, read about Cynthia Vo of Phonomenal in San Jose. Cynthia started her first restaurant at age 17. Now at age 24, she owns multiple restaurants around the Bay Area. A working capital loan from Opportunity Fund is helping power her success in a tough industry.

Against the Odds

Cynthia Vo broke all the rules on her path to entrepreneurship. She started her first restaurant at age 17. She managed multiple eateries and a nightclub while attending college on a tennis scholarship. She went against her parents’ wishes to attend law school in favor of living the small business life. It’s that can-do spirit that fuels Cynthia’s success in a tough industry.

Now 24 years old, Cynthia owns five successful restaurants around the Bay Area. She started her first in San Pedro Square in downtown San Jose: a Vietnamese spot named On a Roll. Two years later, she started a noodle stand in the same downtown market, Phonomenal. Another two years after that, she opened a hamburger stand in the SoFA Market a few blocks away from San Pedro Square called On the Flipside. Add a nightclub and two new spots soon to open in Santa Cruz and Oakland respectively, and you can see how busy Cynthia is.

Cynthia Vo - Phonomenal

Cynthia takes time out for a bite at On the Flipside, one of her San Jose-based restaurants (Photo courtesy of Christian Peacock)

She had no trouble running the business while attending school and playing varsity tennis, but she ran into some issues with financing her growing business dreams. “Funding is so hard to get,” Cynthia said. “Nobody wanted to give me a loan because I was turning 18 at the time and I had no credit. Some lenders told me to come back in a few years.”

Building on Success

Cynthia never backs down from a challenge, so she called Opportunity Fund and got in touch with business development officer, Shanna McClearn. Shanna saw Cynthia’s excellent business acumen right away and was able to get her a $20,000 loan to help with cash flow. Since she started working with us in 2014, Cynthia has become a loyal business borrower.

“When I first reached out to you I didn’t know what to do,” she said. “Shanna took the time to sit down with me and figure out what we could do. She worked with what I had and helped me get the paperwork I needed.”

Cynthia is opening restaurants to build toward her ultimate dream: opening a country club in San Jose, with a golf course, tennis courts, and a banquet hall. She wants to raise her own capital and do it without investors, so she’s investing in the success of her restaurants to make it happen.

Opportunity Fund is happy to support hardworking entrepreneurs like Cynthia and to give them the runway they need to launch their wildest business dreams. We’ll be there to help Cynthia when she needs to boost one of her exciting new Bay Area eateries.

We hope this story has inspired you, too.  At Opportunity Fund, we offer easy-to-get, fast, and affordable small business loans to help small business owners succeed.  Visit our home page to find out more.


Opportunity Fund is California’s largest and fastest-growing nonprofit lender to small businesses. Last fiscal year, we made $60M in loans to help more than 2,200 small business owners invest in their businesses.  Opportunity Fund invests in small business owners who do not have access to traditional financing. As a founding member and signatory to the Borrower’s Bill of Rights, we believe in the important role small businesses play in our community and the economy, and we aim to help owners financially succeed.

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Marisol Hernandez Rodriguez built a food service empire from the ground up. Thanks to two small business loans from Opportunity Fund, she was able to start her own business and later expand into a successful food truck enterprise in Los Angeles with 15 employees.

Our customers inspire us every day, and we want to regularly share those stories to inspire you, too. This week, read about Marisol Hernandez Rodriguez of Tony’s Tacos in Los Angeles. Marisol built a food service empire from the ground up. Thanks to two small business loans from Opportunity Fund, she was able to start her own business and later expand into a successful restaurant and food truck enterprise in Los Angeles with 15 employees.

Hard Work and Good Food

Marisol Hernandez Rodriguez has worked in the food industry since 2008. After two years of working for someone else, she wanted to go into business for herself. She started out with a hot dog cart then worked up to her current venture: Tony’s Tacos.

Marisol named Tony’s Tacos, a lunch truck in Los Angeles, after her youngest son. She runs the lunch truck and prepares all the food at her restaurant Guadalajara City on Florence Avenue in Los Angeles.

Aside from slinging tacos for hungry customers lined up around the block at her food truck, she had to work hard to finance her successful business. The search for business financing is an uphill battle, especially for immigrant entrepreneurs like Marisol.

“I tried to get financing, but it’s too expensive at most places,” she said. “The interest rates are so high. Plus, not every financial institution or lender believes in new businesses and food trucks. it’s very hard for people like me to get funded.”

A Personal Loan Connection

Over the last three years of preparing and selling her food around the city, Marisol has worked with Opportunity Fund to finance her entrepreneurial dreams. Her loan consultant Miguel Garcia has been with her since the start of her enterprises, first offering a $12,000 loan.

“When I started my hot dog trailer, I only had ten thousand dollars,” she said. “Miguel helped me get the money I needed to start my business.”

Marisol’s first food truck business was a success and allowed her to pay off her loan quickly. She took out a second loan of $75,000 to finance her new food truck. Tony’s Tacos is following the same success she had with her hot dog cart, and she’s inspired to do even more with Opportunity Fund financing.

“I have 15 people working for me,” she said. “From here, the sky’s the limit. I want to open my own restaurant and call it Tony’s Tacos.”

Tony's Tacos

Marisol and her crew work hard to make delicious food for the people in their Los Angeles neighborhood (Photo courtesy of ROF Industries)

Marisol is thankful for the connection to Opportunity Fund and Miguel in particular. “It’s the best thing that has ever happened to me and my business,” she said of working with Opportunity Fund. “Miguel believes in me. He encouraged me to start my own business and expand.”

Opportunity Fund makes a difference in the lives of our borrowers every day. Our loan consultants are committed to working with borrowers to ensure their long term success through our loan programs. We’re especially proud to serve the Hispanic business community and support entrepreneurs like Marisol.

See how we helped Marisol start her business with a hot dog cart and then expand with a taco truck in this video:

We hope this story has inspired you, too.  At Opportunity Fund, we offer easy-to-get, fast, and affordable small business loans to help small business owners succeed.  Visit our home page to find out more.


Opportunity Fund is California’s largest and fastest-growing nonprofit lender to small businesses. Last year, we made $60M in loans to help more than 2,200 small business owners invest in their businesses.  Opportunity Fund invests in small business owners who do not have access to traditional financing. As a founding member and signatory to the Borrower’s Bill of Rights, we believe in the important role small businesses play in our community and the economy, and we aim to help owners financially succeed.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Opportunity Fund. Working Capital for Working People. opportunityfund.org