In her hometown of Houston, Texas, Deidra runs Tropical Express, a shaved ice shop.
“I’ve been trying to be an entrepreneur for about eight years,” she says. “It just hasn’t happened because I haven’t been able to purchase the equipment.” She first visited ACCION Texas Inc. five years ago. While trying to start her business, Deidra went to Small Business Administration, where she learned about ACCION Texas. From there, she was inspired to invest some of her money to open the store, which currently carries 14 flavors and will sell 100 flavors by April, when the warm weather returns. Though shaved ice is a seasonal item, Deidra operates year-round by also selling hot dogs and nachos.
Deidra started her business in her grandmother’s backyard. “I did so well, but it got to be too much with the heat, so I stopped.” After taking a business class and seeing the need for a shaved ice store within her area, Deidra decided to return to work.
Tropical Express is “really the only shop in the area with shaved ice,” Deidra says. The shop operates with a three-member team, working and volunteering to help keep the start-up costs down. Deidra needs extra help now, but plans to postpone the hiring process until the summer. She plans to hire high school and college students.
The ACCION loan supplied Deidra with hot dog cookers, syrup containers and a large cooler. Without the help of ACCION, Deidra says, “I’d probably still be sweating and trying to start up. I really appreciate ACCION helping me and being patient with me while working through the loan process.”
LiftFund. (www.liftfund.com) is an award-winning nonprofit organization (previously known as Accion Texas) 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, LiftFund 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.liftfund.com.