Since 2000, Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (ACE) has helped over 900 small businesses start and grow in Georgia, made more than $60 million in loans and helped create/retain nearly 8,000 jobs. ACE, a longtime member of the Friends, is focused on assisting small-business owners of color, women, low-income entrepreneurs and others who lack equitable access to small-business financing across the Georgia market.
Recently, ACE was named as Mission Based Lender of the Year for the 3rd year in a row by the SBA Georgia District Office. ACE is consistently the number one SBA microlender in the state and look forward to continuing to provide loans and business development resources to help Georgia’s small business owners create and grow sustainable businesses which generate jobs.
Throughout Georgia in 2018, ACE made 100 loans totaling $11.1 million that created 529 new jobs and helped retain 271. Some of these loans were made to 1) a previous bakery owner from Puerto Rico who didn’t have the collateral needed for traditional financing to start his bakery and café, but was a perfect fit for our SBA Program; 2) a husband and wife team who own a daycare facility and were able to expand to fill the needs of their southwest Atlanta community for afterschool care; and, 3) a female entrepreneur that utilized her education in accounting, our SBA Women’s Business Center resources, and capital from ACE to expand her tax and credit repair business.
One of ACE’s most recent success stories comes from the opening of Sweet Joy Ice Cream Bar in Lawrenceville, GA on December 14, 2018.
Growing up, Talia Holmes spent summers in the kitchen with her mom and granny making homemade ice cream… those were some of her most memorable moments! As an adult, she worked for different companies, and when her mom and grandmother passed away, she decided that it was time to follow her vision and open an ice cream shop. It was her mom’s and grandmother’s dream, and she wanted to leave a legacy for her daughter.
Although Talia comes from a family of entrepreneurs, knew the type of business she wanted to open, and had her preliminary business plan, she needed help preparing to become a business owner! She found the ACE Women’s Business Center (WBC) on the SBA website and was able to schedule a coaching session with a business consultant the same day. One of the first recommendations that she received was to use DreamBuilder to help more fully develop her business plan – it also gave her more insight into starting her business. She continued to work with the coach who gave her more guidance on how to be successful. Because she also needed funding, she attended two WBC Access to Capital workshops to learn about the requirements needed to obtain a loan through ACE. ACE’s Annual Speed Coaching event allowed her the opportunity to meet with four business coaches who provided advice on how to operate specific areas of her business.
Sweet Joy Ice Cream, named after Talia’s mother, is progressing very well and she has hired 4 employees so far. She wants to be known as one the best homemade ice cream shops in Georgia. Talia is already thinking of expanding to a second location and opening a breakfast boutique. She continues to obtain Business Advisory Services through ACE for bookkeeping and marketing support.
“Through ACE, I was able to obtain all the guidance and support I need to open and operate my business. They always go the extra step to make sure you succeed; exceptional customer experience. With ACE providing me with the skill sets to move forward and on-going support, it’s allowing me to win and grow in my business,” Talia says of the support she received from ACE’s Microloan Program.
For more information on ACE and the businesses they have financed, visit www.aceloans.org. Stay tuned for more posts in honor of National Small Business week. We will be continuing to highlight the important work being done by members of the Friends of the SBA Microloan Program!