Most of you have likely heard about LiftFund, formerly known as Accion-Texas.  I often wonder where my company would be today had I known about this organization and utilized the resources it offers.  Who knows  — perhaps I’d be rich and famous now!

I went about building my business the hard way — brick by brick, over a long and arduous period of time.  Let’s focus on women starting or building their businesses the smart way.  It’s all about finding the right investor who believes in you and your dream, who is willing to step up to the plate and risk investing money in you.

If you have no track record and no credit, you can forget about banks taking that risk.  That’s what LiftFund does.  It helps entrepreneurs achieve their dreams.  LiftFund coaches and empowers dreamers to go for it and will provide the resources needed to turn dreams into reality.  I’ll share two stories about women who will be forever grateful to LiftFund for believing in them.

Maria Magdalena Williams, Majestic Events by Maria, LLC  

Local event planner who translates an event vision into an unforgettable experience.

After Maria Williams was laid off from her full-time job, she decided to go back to school and began exploring different career possibilities. She enrolled at a local community college and soon discovered her passion for event planning.

Maria ambitiously opened Majestic Events by Maria, LLC in 2010. She began seeking help to grow her business and discovered LiftFund on the Small Business Administration website. A loan officer referred her to the LiftFund Women’s Business Center, where a business adviser provided Maria the guidance she needed to create a financial business strategy for expansion.

Majestic Events received its second LiftFund business loan for $5,000 in July 2015 to open a “show room.”  Maria has since successfully opened her new space and can now meet with clients in a professional setting to showcase her event services.

Majestic Events by Maria, LLC has become quite popular across San Antonio over the last five years.

Janie Romo, Ms. Chocolatier

Local San Antonio chef creating gourmet chocolates to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Chef Janie Romo began her chocolate-making career after retiring from the City of San Antonio.    She saved money to pay for her education at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., and start her business.

As a single mother, she sacrificed and worked hard to make her passion a reality and eventually a successful gourmet chocolate business.  After finding LiftFund online, Janie received a loan for working capital for her new business.

Today, you can find Janie working with her son at the local farmers market at the Pearl. Janie was recently offered the opportunity to showcase her delicious chocolates inside every room in the brand-new luxurious Hotel Emma located at the Pearl. She  is currently working with the Westside Development Corporation to locate potential retail locations in San Antonio’s vibrant West Side. All products are made in-house by hand in small batches.

LiftFund relies on investments and donations to make these loans.  There are 30-plus  women who have chosen to invest.  For their investment they receive a 2 percent return.  They feel strongly about helping women like Maria and Janie.  I’ve selected three of the investors on the list to share their reasons for wanting to be a part of LiftFund.

Adriana Biggs:  Donor, investor and employee. Her parents had a small business.  Their little business paid for college and law school for Adriana. She believes in the transformative power of education and business ownership. Adriana has enjoyed a successful career as an attorney, but chose to follow her heart by joining LiftFund as its chief strategy officer.

Aissatou Sidime-Blanton: It is important to support individuals who want to empower families, especially micro-borrowers.  During her journalistic career, Aissatou talked to lots of small business owners and learned it is not enough to have a great idea.  You must also have capital.  She decided to put her money — and time as a former Accion Texas Advisory Council member — into an entity that excels in what she values.  The training and support that LiftFund provides to  fledgling businesses rivals other micro-lenders.

Dr. Linda Foster: Linda recently retired as principal of Alamo Heights High School. She had known Janie Barrera, head of Accion and now Liftfund, for many years, but not until December 2015 did she really learn about LiftFund and its impact.  Immediately, Linda was sold and jumped on board as a donor and investor.  As a high school principal she constantly mentored people.  LiftFund presents a different way to mentor people and help them achieve their dreams.