For the past 10 years, Alida G. has wanted to open her own business. Now, she is finally starting a food booth. She plans to attend at least three fairs a month along the gulf. “Then, once I have enough money, I’ll open up a commissary in a stable location. The food booth is a way to get my foot in the door.” Her original plan was to “get a trailer and RV and just hit a new beach every Sunday, but the oil spill killed that plan.”
Alida G. has survived both Katrina and a debilitating medical condition, and is ready to get off of social security disability benefits. “Before I was disabled, I had really good credit. I could walk into any bank and get a loan for anything. When they put me on that medicine, I lost everything – my house, everything.” The medicine made it hard for her to think. Recently, her diagnosis was changed, along with her treatment. “I’m feeling so much better… I’m ready to get on with my life. I’m tired of being poor.”
Alida will use the loan to pay for the first three months of booth rentals, along with her equipment. She plans to stock up on food and to buy a couple freezers, a nacho machine, a generator, ice chests, and a barbeque grill for cooking up hotdogs and ravioli and hamburgers. She’ll sell “snowballs, of course” but she’s really excited about the grilled ravioli. “They’re very good – and it’s unique! They’re definitely on the menu.” She will also buy a fan to cool the tent in the summer and to keep the smoke out of the tent.
If not for this loan, Alida says she would probably sell her truck and other belongings in order to fund her business, or she might not have the funds to start it at all.
She really wants to be financially independent. “The profit margin on a snowball stand is so large that if you fail, there’s something wrong with you. As long as you’re frugal, this is the way to go. Everyone I’ve talked to who’s in it has loved it.”
When she is more stable, Alida wants to get a house loan to make repairs. “We still have storm damage from Katrina. …That’s one of the main reasons I want to get off of social security. I want homeowners insurance so I don’t have to go through this again.”
Alida also has a clear vision for her business. “In five years, I’d like to have five more permanent locations somewhere. ... In 20 years, I want to be all across the gulf coast and start working my way up the east coast.” Eventually she wants to “take the main office location and turn it into an ice park. It’s going to have a massive tube ride. … and it’ll be landscaped, with nothing but pine trees with the snow on them. … I’ll set areas aside for handicapped kids. And things to help save the glaciers – little educational things. And ice rinks and swimming pools. It’ll be just like visiting somewhere up north in the winter, only in the south.”
Alida is trying to figure out how to legally hire her roommate (also pictured in the photo), who is also disabled and currently helping with the business. Her roommate is her co-borrower on the loan.
Her advice to other people starting a business is “don’t give up. And get everything in writing, no matter who you’re dealing with.”
About Accion Texas Inc.
Accion Texas Inc. (www.acciontexas.org) is an award-winning nonprofit organization with a mission to provide credit and loans to small and start-up businesses that have limited or no access to credit from commercial sources. Established in 1994 in San Antonio, Accion has helped Texas and Louisiana entrepreneurs strengthen their businesses, stabilize and increase their incomes, create employment, and contribute to the economic revitalization of their communities. Learn more at www.acciontexas.org.
A loan of $4,100 helped Alida first three months of booth rentals, a tent, a couple of freezers, a charcoal-gas barbeque grill, a nacho machine, a generator, ice chests, a fan, and food to sell. Possibly other equipment or supplies.