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

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

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

Jessica Toribio has been working in the beauty industry for over 20 years. Thanks to a small business loan from Opportunity Fund, she was able to make improvements to her salon and increase her advertising. We helped her improve her credit and understand business lending with our friendly and personalized loan services.

Our customers inspire us every day, and we want to regularly share those stories to inspire you, too.  This week, read about Jessica Toribio of The Studio of Kosmeticos in Anaheim. Jessica has been working in the beauty industry for over 20 years. Thanks to a small business loan from Opportunity Fund, she was able to make improvements to her salon and increase her advertising. We helped her improve her credit and understand business lending with our friendly and personalized loan services.

Financing Solutions for Salons

Jessica Toribio opened The Studio of Kosmeticos in Anaheim six years ago. She’s spent most of her life working in the beauty industry, with over 20 years of experience. She offers hair, nail, and skin care services for men, women, and children in Orange County.

Jessica started her business with the dream to expand to multiple locations. Before she could expand, she had to outfit her current salon with equipment and promote her services with new signage.

She made a connection with Opportunity Fund loan consultant Osbaldo Velazquez, who visited her salon shortly after the grand opening. Before long, Jessica realized how working with Opportunity Fund could help her boost her business.

“I needed financing to invest in my business,” she said. “I felt comfortable working with Opportunity Fund because I already knew Osbaldo, so I decided to apply.”

Building a Business While Rebuilding Credit

Osbaldo helped Jessica get a $3,000 loan, which financed signage for the front of the salon and a new pedicure chair. The capital for equipment and promotions has helped The Studio of Kosmeticos’ business grow, but the connection to a knowledgeable finance resource means a lot to Jessica as well.

Studio of Kosmeticos - Signage

Part of the $3,000 loan we funded for Jessica’s salon went to marketing and advertising (photo courtesy of ROF Industries)

“Opportunity Fund has helped me rebuild my credit,” she said. “Osbaldo is also there for me to answer my questions and give me advice on business lending.”

Jessica tried working with other small business financing resources but found that Opportunity Fund best fit her needs.

“Opportunity Fund took the time to explain what their programs are all about,” she said. “Other places asked me to fill out an application but didn’t explain the process. Osbaldo helped me feel comfortable about getting a small business loan. I’m very thankful for that.”

Now that Jessica has the funding she needs to better serve her clients and reach out to new clients, she hopes to work with us in the future to expand into a chain of salons in Orange County. We’ll be there to help Jessica make the world a more beautiful place.

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

Rosa Lara started a daycare business to support her family and care for the children in her hometown of Harbor City. Thanks to three small business loans from Opportunity Fund, Loving Day Care has grown into a thriving home-based daycare with big plans to expand.

Our customers inspire us every day, and we want to regularly share those stories to inspire you, too.  This week, read about Rosa Lara of Loving Day Care in Harbor City. Rosa started her daycare business to support her family and care for the children in her hometown. Thanks to three small business loans from Opportunity Fund, Loving Day Care has grown into a thriving home-based daycare with big plans to expand.

Working Toward a Better Life

Rosa Lara came to America with a dream to make a better life for her and her children. She put everything she had into her plans to build a daycare business.

Rosa sent her young daughter to daycare while she worked as a housekeeper at the church where she lived. Working, taking night classes at UCLA Extension, and learning English while caring for her daughter was a grind, but it set Rosa up for success in starting her own business.

“I thought that I could start a business,” she said. “My own business could help me bring my other kids to America from El Salvador.”

She moved into her current home six years ago, where she established Loving Day Care. The house had space for her and her four children, as well as for 14 children in the daycare, but the property needed a lot of work to provide top notch home-based childcare. That’s when Rosa called Opportunity Fund.

Caring For Kids in Her Community

Rosa started Loving Day Care with credit cards and her own savings. When she needed additional capital for improvements to the house and grounds, she was met with little cooperation.

“No matter how well my business was doing, my bank didn’t want to help me,” she said. “They denied my request for credit. Other institutions asked for too much collateral. Everyone denied me for one reason or another.”

Rosa got in touch with Opportunity Fund loan consultant Armando Cruz, who gave her an opportunity where other funding sources could not. Together they worked on her loan documents and Armando was able to approve Loving Day Care’s first loan of $6,000 for improvements to the daycare kitchen and living room.

Rosa Lara - Loving Day Care

Rosa poses in the living room at her in-home daycare (photo courtesy of ROF Industries)

“I called Armando and two days later he was here at my door,” she said. ‘He approved my loan in one week.”

Rosa was able to pay off her first loan quickly and applied for a second loan of $10,000 for more improvements, including a playground and a swimming pool in the backyard. The successful lending partnership continues with a third loan of $20,000, which helped pay for educational software, a computer and tablet, and cribs for the babies.

Loving Day Care is a family business: Rosa runs the business with her four children and one assistant. Rosa sees the next stage of the day care’s growth as a dance studio where her three daughters can teach free dance lessons for children in the neighborhood. She hopes to work with us again to build the studio.

“I am very thankful for Opportunity Fund,” she said. “They are helping me give my kids a better life.”

We’re happy to help Rosa care for Harbor City kids and honored to help her family business grow.

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

Through an unlikely combination of entrepreneurship and community activism, Emilia Otero is creating a vibrant, wholesome mobile food culture in the Fruitvale district.

Our customers inspire us every day and we want to regularly share those stories to inspire you, too.  This week, read about Emilia Otero of La Placita Commercial Kitchen in Oakland.  Through an unlikely combination of entrepreneurship and community activism, she’s creating a vibrant, wholesome mobile food culture in the Fruitvale district. 

La Placita kitchen

Oakland mobile food vendors use La Placita to prepare their food (Photo courtesy of Christian Peacock)

Deep Roots

Emilia Otero’s roots in the mobile food business go 20 years deep, back to her first pilot project to improve community nutrition options in Oakland, by organizing local food vendors into what she calls “the new food industry on wheels.”

“I wanted bring nutrition to my community,” she said.  “I wanted to teach kids about healthy eating.”

It wasn’t easy, and there were plenty of setbacks along the way.   But there is no giving up in Emilia Otero.

She saw the potential impact of organizing the vendors to provide fresh food, but she had to work to legalize them first—at that time, mobile food businesses were not permitted in many cities, Oakland among them.   Eventually, with the support of the community and the vendors, she was able to open her first commissary in 2008 with a $75,000 grant from the city of Oakland.

Rebuilding a Dream

Unfortunately, that amount didn’t cover the necessary start-up costs, and despite doing a good business initially, she couldn’t get a bank loan because of her lack of equity.  Her struggle to find funding led her to Opportunity Fund and loan consultant Gerardo Campos who secured her a loan in 2010.  But two years later, another setback: the building hosting her commercial kitchen went into foreclosure, and Otero’s business almost went under.

“I didn’t have credit to buy the building. I lost everything, including my credit,” she said.

Otero was down, but not out.  She rebuilt her dream in Oakland’s Fruitvale district, by renovating a building no one else wanted, with volunteers and friends doing painting, cleaning, and plumbing. Another grant from the city helped rebuild the façade, but the hoods for the ovens and stoves—essential upgrades for passing city inspections—required fast financing.

 

La Placita Facade

Emilia turned an unwanted building into a business hub for Fruitvale mobile food vendors (Photo courtesy of Christian Peacock)

Again, Campos at Opportunity Fund stepped in. “Gerardo saved my business,” she said.  “He can see potential in the people looking for the opportunity that I had,” she said.  Finally, her commercial kitchen, La Placita, was born, thanks to Otero’s rich and varied background of creativity, activism, and love for her community.

And we think those are all good things worth investing in.

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 $37M in loans to help more than 1,800 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