When COVID-19 hit, the fate of the food industry was uncertain, but Chula Vista resident and owner of Tacos La Fiesta Joseph Barragan, a young small business, found help in continuing to grow his business through nonprofit Accessity, a community development financial institution.
Accessity CEO Elizabeth Schott said it has a long history of helping small businesses. A nonprofit organization it has served small businesses for nearly 30 years. Based in San Diego it serves the Southern California region.
“We are a community development financial institution or a CDFI, and our main mission is as a lender,” she said. “We help small businesses both with starting a business as well as expanding with access to capital. We have a loan program from anywhere from $300 up to $100,000. Small businesses can access capital through our program in order to grow their business, start their business, and create jobs in our local communities.”
Schott said Accessity also runs an educational program with various resources.
“One of the things that we find is that running a business is not easy. It is definitely exciting, but it also takes a lot of effort,” she said. “It is about surrounding the entrepreneurs with both access to capital, but also a community of support, training, education, and connections that ultimately can help them in their long-term success. We have different webinars and trainings on topics such as marketing, social media, credit and financing.”
Schott said it also runs different partnerships locally. For example, credit counseling agency TrustPlus, where clients or small businesses going through its program can get credit and financial counseling, the San Diego Employer’s Association, where clients get resources to human resources for personnel questions, and Sam Adams for food, beverage and hospitality, and craft brew businesses, where they get access to its capital program and one on one coaching from Sam Adams.
“Those are some of the resources in addition to access to capital that we support small business with,” she said.
Schott said Accessity’s Academy for Entrepreneurial Success is a twice a year program with one coming up in January 2023. It is a 10-week startup training program that walks a business owner through A to Z on how to start a business.
“How to write a business plan, financial projection, market analysis, business pitching,” she said. “Once they graduate that program, they are eligible up to $5,000 through our loan program to start their business,” she said.
Schott said Barragan went through the Academy a couple of years ago, but since wanted to fulfill his dream of getting a food truck to share his cultural cuisine with the community, so he has now accessed a loan to help grow his business.
“He is a good example of a client who is not only gotten access to capital, but also education and training through our program,” she said.
Barragan said Tacos La Fiesta is a catering company that focuses on authentic Mexican taquizas, but with the new addition of the food truck, he is expanding his menu.
“We are going to offer sit down plates, buffet style dinners,” he said. “We also have a great taco cart, so if customers do not want a food truck, they can have the taco cart, so that it is a little more authentic equipment. It all started with me taking the class at Accessity. You get so much information.”
Barragan said the Academy provided guest speakers from successful businesses, people from the County, the health department, and other guest speaker that provided their knowledge in helping him move his business forward.
“The way the guide you, even with your credit, there was no expense for me,” he said.
Barragan said he did not apply for a loan right away, but by going through the Academy he was able to get his permits, licenses, started his LLC, and then eventually came back to Accessity for a loan.
“Besides everything you learn, even though I was already in business, they considered me a startup business,” he said. “They did not require a two-year financial statement like standard banks do for business loans.”
Barragan said he just recently got his food truck through that loan and is in the process of getting it ready for his business for next year.
“Once it is ready, not only are we going to do catering, but we will also start working daily at different locations,” he said. “I’ll be able to do parties with this food truck. It is going to be a game changer. I’ll easily be able to do parties for 500 people or more. Events, weddings. I have already started knocking on doors and I already have venues booked through the middle of next year.”
Barragan said he has been cooking in the kitchen for more than 20 years and grew up cooking with his large family from an early age.
“We would always get together at my grandmother’s house,” he said. “All the recipes come from my great-grandmother, that were passed down to my grandmother, my mom, and my aunts. They come from Totis Jalisco, Guadalajara. It is the same tacos that we have been cooking for years. It is authentic Mexican food, and we stick to that.”
Barragan said this is a family business and that they are planning a grand opening in early 2023.
Schott said it works with the Small Business Development Center, SCORE, another women’s business center, and other providers where if their client needs help creating an in depth business plan, or financial productions, Accessity works along side these other programs, and then comes in with the access to capital.
“We are primarily helping diverse entrepreneurs and those of low to moderate income,” she said. “So primarily we have entrepreneurs of color, women entrepreneurs, veterans. Those are populations that we often see that there are historical systemic barriers in accessing capital through traditional sources. Our program has a mission to support those entrepreneurs, in particularly small businesses is another niche of ours that we try to support. Businesses less than two years in operation so they can contribute to our local economy and create jobs.”
For more information on Accessity’s marketplace and the Academy for Success visit accesity.org and accessityacademy.org. For more information about Tacos La Fiesta visit tacoslafiesta.com.