When Diana moved to San Francisco from Mexico, she dreamed of opening her own jewelry shop as a way to earn a living. She was scared to go into business alone, “But then I realized: Times are changing and now women do have the opportunity to run their own businesses. I knew it would be hard but I knew I could do it,” recalls Diana.
And Diana did not have to go it alone. Propelled by the help of Women’s Initiative (a San Francisco-based training center for women entrepreneurs) and MISBA (a network of small businesses in the Mission neighborhood), she launched a small jewelry and repair shop in San Francisco’s Mission District neighborhood. Diana affectionately named it “Diju,” after a combination of her name and her husband’s name, Juan. Diana’s friends and family gathered together and helped furnish her shop. Together they built countertops and cabinets out of beautiful, dark wood and filled the cabinets with delicate silver and beaded necklaces, rings and earrings. “I feel so grateful to have had so much help and support. I was never alone in this,” she beamed.
Diju Jewelry gained recognition in the community and business flourished. “I feel so proud to own my own successful business outside of my home country.” By 2010, Diana’s business had grown to the point that she needed to purchase more merchandise. She knew she could increase her profits if she had more merchandise to sell, but she didn’t have the money to purchase the inventory up front—a plight common to many small businesses.
A loan officer from Opportunity Fund was venturing through the Mission, catching up with local shopkeepers and getting to know new local business owners. When she passed through Diju Jewelry, Diana explained her business’s needs and together they came to the conclusion that a microloan would do just the trick. “Opportunity Fund made everything so easy. Anytime I was confused or had a question, I just asked my loan officer and she helped me so much,” said Diana.
Diana repaid her first loan in no time and raised her FICO score from 633 to 654! When she applied for a second loan this fall, Opportunity Fund was delighted to continue building a relationship with her and approved her for another loan. With $5,000, Diana will buy a new security system and increase her inventory.
The future of Diju Jewelry is bright. Diana hopes to attend an artisanal school and expand her expertise about jewelry design and repair. She also feels a strong desire to master her English skills. “If I could improve my English, I could sell much more jewelry… Maybe even to the President some day!” she laughs.
Kiva realizes that access to credit is a challenge for entrepreneurs everywhere. Kiva started out as a website focused on developing-world entrepreneurs. In June 2009, Kiva began experimenting with allowing entrepreneurs in the United States to raise money on its website. If this is something you support, please feel free to fund this loan. If you have questions, including how an entrepreneur in your neighborhood might get a loan, please visit our Help Center and click on "Loans in the United States."