Lufkin’s financial opportunity center helps small business owners grow by providing loan assistance, entrepreneurial advice

Published: May. 3, 2021 at 7:22 AM CDT
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NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - In Lufkin, the legacy institute’s financial opportunity center is working to help small business owners grow. The organization’s goal is to provide access to capital.

The Financial Opportunity Center’s director Joseph Caesar says the idea of the Wazo’s project is to serve as a local small business incubator.

“They need to see people of color and that are looking and saying, I can be a business owner just like he can. A secondary issue that we are trying to address is just rural communities as a whole regardless of race,” Ceasar said. “Rural communities have been underutilized and underfunded by some of the loan programs that have existed in our country.”

Seven businesses were funded through the KIVA program this year. Caesar says $40,500 has come into the community through a crowdfunded platform.

“We can help improve their marketing, get inventory for their products, and hire people. So, we are creating jobs through these loans and helping these businesses grow and become more sustainable which is huge,” Ceasar added.

Tasty Jax is a Mexican-style candy company that makes its homemade chamoy sauce and our spices.

“I was skeptical of the kiva loan at first, it seemed too good to be soon. I just went in took my chances and it happened within what a month, and I was fully funded,” said Valerie Jackson, the co-owner

Her husband Christopher Jackson says their family business has improved in many ways.

“They helped with our finances, our accounting, and got all of our Quickbooks set up,” Jackson added. “We initially wanted to work out of food truck. We found it was very expensive, about double what we were paying with the Wazo project. So the Wazo project has provided with a brick and mortar at a cheaper rate.”

Go Hard Fitness co-owner Curtis Murphy says getting a loan on his own was challenging before he contacted the financial opportunity center.

“As far as that, KIVA has helped a lot because of that. As a self-employed business owner, you have to pick and choose on what areas you want to spend your money at,” Murphy explained. “Mainly on overhead like electricity, water bill, and things like that. But overall, it was an easy process. Most people think you have to fill out a bunch of paperwork, credit, and all that. It’s nothing like that.”

With the additional income, Murphy plans to replace the store-front sign and to add more punching bags to the inside.

“As far as our fencing out there which was torn down by the storm, the loan is going to help provide that security and privacy for our clients coming in to work out outside in the sun,” Murphy said.

Ceasar says they can help people discuss what type of business structures you should have such as a sole proprietor, LLC, or a non-profit. Deep east Texas residents who are interested in signing up for the Wazo’s project and kiva small business loan can contact Legacy Institute’s Financial Opportunity Center in Lufkin at 936-209-2085.

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