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California Coffee Company Pivots Business Amid COVID-19 with Support from Local CDFI

Financial and Social Impact

  • Woman-owned business able to adapt to COVID-19, maintain jobs, and continue growing

Client: Maria Palacio, owner of Progeny Coffee
Client location: Berkeley, CA
CDFI: Pacific Community Ventures
CDFI service area: California
CDFI services provided: Financing and technical assistance, with support from the Grant Program

Progeny Coffee was co-founded by Maria Palacio, a fifth generation Colombian coffee farmer, and her husband, John Trabelsi. The company’s mission is to serve as a distribution platform to empower coffee farmers to lift themselves out of poverty. Seeking to open her own roasting and retail facility to meet growing demand, Maria turned to Pacific Community Ventures (PCV). She secured a $100,000 loan from PCV to purchase inventory, hire employees, and maintain working capital. She was also matched with a pro bono advisor from Google through PCV’s platform.

However, while Progeny has seen consistent revenue and job growth for three years in a row, the COVID pandemic threw a wrench in that progress. Progeny is now adapting their team from B2B to B2C. They’ve launched an e-commerce store, started a subscription model, and expanded their marketing efforts through social media and PR. To support Progeny further, PCV allowed the business to pause some of their loan payments, in addition to helping them obtain a PPP loan through fellow CDFI CRF USA after other mainstream institutions turned them down.

“If we come together as a team, we can make an impact,” Maria told PCV. “Our sales manager is doing Instagram now. Our operations manager is writing blogs and doing PR. We’re a mission-aligned company, and everyone got behind it. We never really used social media and never ran ads, since B2B is all about relationships. Now we have Instagram ads!”

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