Every day for two decades, Jose “Chepo” Leyva-Lopez and his wife Maria have risen at dawn to painstakingly roll hundreds of tamales. They sell these popular homemade delicacies at local agricultural fairs and produce stands across Solano County, California, and from a storefront in Elmira.
The tamale business has seen gradual but modest success. As it’s grown, Chepo has had to jump the seemingly never-ending hurdles that are part of owning a growing small business. He has successfully navigated USDA inspections, complex permit applications, and numerous building regulations. “It’s like running a marathon,” he says of being a small business owner. “You just keep going.”
Along the way, to finance some major renovations and equipment for the storefront, Chepo turned to Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC), a CDFI headquartered in Sacramento that serves rural communities in 13 western states and certain Pacific islands. RCAC loaned the business $125,000 to refinance existing loans with better terms and to cover the costs of kitchen upgrades.
“This is a hard-working family that started with nothing and has strived for many years to improve and build their small business,” said Mike Carnes, RCAC’s loan officer. “RCAC is proud to be able to provide the financial resources needed to help them achieve their goals.”
(Date of assistance: 2014. Date of story publication: 2015)