Mili chose a challenging time to start up his business, ‘Yes V Can’: “I registered the company at City Hall on a rainy Friday the 13th in February of 2009,” he describes.
Despite his launching the business at the height of the recession, Yes V Can is growing. Mili explains that an old saying – “Greatness requires the taking of risks. That is why so few ever achieve it,” – inspires him to take on the challenges of owning a small business. Yes V Can provides copying, printing, binding, and other services for large construction projects, and Mili’s signs - like those used to indicate projects that have received American Recovery Reinvestment Act funding - can be seen around the San Francisco Bay Area.
Mili prides himself on thinking outside the box to keep prices low. Recently, he successfully out-bid a large corporation for a banner project in San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood, where his shop is located. While the corporation sought to lower prices by purchasing metal brackets made in China, Mili employed an acquaintance to turn out the brackets locally. Mili kept the job local, and his fixtures were cheaper and stronger.
Looking forward, Mili would like to be a ‘one-stop shop’ for all construction companies and walk-in customers who need his services. “Finding customers and building trust is the difficult part,” he explains. “Once I find them, I want to progress through the project with the customer.”
When Mili started Yes V Can he needed a large format printer, but without an established credit history he was unable to qualify for a loan from his bank or leasing company. Mili rented the machine from a competitor but was charged a crippling fee that was 400% above market rate. Fortunately, he was recently presented with the chance to buy his own machine and came to his local MFI, Opportunity Fund, for financing.
“I was in a quandary over what to do. Then I heard about Opportunity Fund, and within 2 weeks I was approved for a loan. This is a really good thing.” A $5,000 loan will cover the cost of two used printers, which will allow him to take on more jobs, be more cost-effective, and grow his business. In the near future, he plans to hire an employee to help manage his increasing workload.
Ultimately, Mili’s goal is to help and hire from his community. “It’s through the community that I’ve been able to do this so far – showing gratitude and giving back is very important. That’s how I was raised by my parents, and I want to live by their example so my children will do the same when it is time for them to face the world!”
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