Expanding the Rotman/CAMH domestic microfinance program and new opportunities

By Narinder Dhami – April 11, 2013 – 0 Comments and 1 Reaction

For as long as she could remember, Naomi wanted to run her own business. Inspired by awful gluten free food, she began to operate a small gluten free bakery that soon became a full time occupation after she lost her day job. She realized that for her business to become her primary source of income, she would need to both scale operations up and reduce her costs.

Due to past personal obstacles, Naomi was unable to obtain financing from traditional banking institutions. After several unsuccessful attempts to secure a small business loan, Naomi found Rise Asset Development, which offered her financing based on the strength of her character, work ethic and business plan. “They felt confident that I had overcome my personal obstacles and that I could follow through. They were willing to take a chance on me,” she recalls.

Using the Rise loan, Naomi was able to upgrade to expensive, high volume kitchen equipment and purchase ingredients at wholesale prices. The impact on her costs and production were immediately evident. Today, she sells to the top 4 organic retail outlets in Ottawa as well as a variety of coffee shops. Naomi now has a 20 quart Hobart Mixer towering over her “itty bitty” KitchenAid, and a commercial convection oven that can bake an entire order in under an hour.

“Re-inventing myself and my career wasn’t easy. When I started my business, I believed it was the right thing to do, but there were so many doors that were closed to me. Rise helped to open all of them. Now my company grows a bit every day – I love the taste of success!”

Naomi Muise is owner of CeleeakNak, a gluten-free catering business in Ottawa, and the first entrepreneur financed through Rise Ottawa.

Rise was officially launched in Ottawa on March 21 through Causeway Work Centre. Rise Asset Development has been working with Causeway since 2012 to develop a relationship that would allow Ottawa based entrepreneur’s to access Rise programming. Causeway’s commitment to support community economic development made them a great fit as the face of Rise Ottawa – supporting outreach and intake activities and preparing individuals with a history of mental health or addiction challenges for self-employment.

We work across the province. In addition to a physical presence in the Ottawa region, we are excited to be collaborating with teams in Kingston and London to expand programming and support to entrepreneurs throughout those regions. As we expand across the province, we will maintain our loan fund and financing decisions centralized through our investment committee in Toronto, and create a collaborative network of agencies across the province to encourage and promote self-employment as a viable option to individuals with a history of mental health or addiction challenges.

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