When Alicia Villanueva first started her tamale business, she went door to door selling homemade tamales with her eight-year-old son Pedro. Each week she had enough money to buy supplies for 100 tamales and after she sold them all, she would bring home a tiny profit. A good week would end with Alicia making a $200 profit. She was working so hard but there was no way with that little profit that she could take care of all her bills. The family struggled with unemployment and business debt. It was a very frustrating and stressful time for her but Alicia kept going because she believed in her tamale business. Alicia's journey is so inspiring we asked her to share her story at the state capitol to help promote SB896, the nonprofit lending bill MAF is sponsoring with Senator Lou Correa.
“Nobody trusts you when you have too much debt and a bad credit score, even though you want to work and do better,” she said.
Finding Mission Asset Fund and joining a Lending Circle got Alicia her first loan for $1,000. That loan was just the support she needed to invest in her business and buy new equipment. It helped her to eventually open her own food cart business in San Francisco: Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas.
Taking MAF’s financial management classes and paying her loans off on time helped Alicia get her finances in order. She also got connected with the nonprofit La Cocina to launch her first tamale cart. From there, Alicia’s orders and profits started growing. Now she has 7 employees working with her to make 3,000 tamales a week!
“On Mondays, we make the fillings.Tuesdays and Wednesdays, we put the tamales together. Thursdays and Fridays, we package and deliver them to our happy customers!” Alicia said.
One of those happy customers is Heather Watkins, who wanted to serve Alicia’s delicious tamales at her wedding.
“There is so much to say about Alicia's Tamales. Her whole heart and soul is transferred through her wonderful food. She is changing the lives of her community and family with her business. Her joy and hard work makes everyone around her feel like being apart of this movement is exactly where they are supposed to be, and inspires others to join in. My fiancee and I are honored to have such a trailblazer be apart of our wedding day," she said.
After participating in Lending Circles, Alicia has been able to save money and begin paying down her debt to live her American Dream. With the success of her food cart and catering service, she has some exciting projects in the work. You’ll soon be able to find Alicia’s Tamales in Whole Foods later this year and she’s working on a business plan to open up her first restaurant!
“We have a saying in my business,” Alicia said. “my tamales are stuffed with love and the best people are stuffed with my tamales!”
Last month, our CEO, Jose Quinonez, and Senator Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) introduced SB 896, a bill to promote nonprofit lending in the state of California. We're excited to sponsor legislation that will address the lack of affordable, financial products in California and tap into the strength of the nonprofit sector.
What does SB 896 say?
SB 896 establishes a licensing exemption within the California Finance Lenders Law (CFLL) for 501c3 nonprofits facilitating zero-interest, credit-building loans up to $2,500.
Nonprofit organizations can apply for exemption to provide zero-interest loans, as long as they meet other exemption criteria, open books to the Department of Business Oversight upon request, and annually report certain lending data to the DBO
Why is MAF sponsoring this?
To recognize and uplift the nonprofit sector as an effective way to help financially excluded communities increase access to affordable small-dollar loans.
To make it easier for more nonprofits to enter the lending space and join partnerships
Our Lending Circles program is one model that moves consumers from the margins of the economy into the mainstream financial marketplace. We know many nonprofit organizations currently working hard to expand economic opportunity for all Californians and many others who want to do more. SB 896 will allows us all to build on our work together and create a better future for the state through nonprofit lending.
To read more about the bill, click here.
Stay tuned for more updates and find out ways you can help!
Today, we're excited to share our “5 Years of Dreams” lookback report in celebration of 5 years of our award-winning Lending Circles program. We invite you to check out this interactive compilation for infographics, stories, videos and more hidden surprises.
Take some time to explore how social lending is changing lives, and you’ll see that with a little creativity (and good credit), everyone can reach their dreams!
And if you are inspired by what you see, please support us by making a donation.