Success Stories

Sarah Davis-Brazier, owner of Liberty Academy and Preschool

In 2004, with help from a U.S. Small Business Administration 504 Loan, Sarah Davis-Brazier purchased an abandoned property in Northwest Miami-Dade County Florida that was being used as a house of prostitution and illicit drug use.

 After overcoming numerous challenges and setbacks with the County’s Planning and Zoning Department, Hurricane Wilma, and neighborhood vandals, Mrs. Brazier converted the neighborhood eyesore into Liberty Academy Daycare and Preschool.

When the school opened its doors in April 2006 it welcomed 19 children and employed 5 full-time teachers and staffers. Using her skills as a 24-year former Assistant Vice President with AT&T/Lucent Technologies, Mrs. Brazier quickly grew Liberty Academy to over 91 children and 15 full-time employees who reside in the community it serves.

Building on that early success, Mrs. Brazier sought to expand Liberty Academy to the blighted and vacant property next door. She approached many lenders over the... Read More

Aston Lu, founder of Ocho Rios-Miami

After nearly three decades in business, the owners of specialty foods distributor Ocho Rios International are no strangers to the challenges and demands of growing a business. In 2014, when a credit line became vital when negotiating with potential suppliers, COO Aston Lue sought the guidance of the SBDC at Florida International University.

The quest for cash had drawn Lue away from the daily operations of the business and he needed to act quickly. “As the number of credit worthy customers grew, we required a line of credit because the products we import are in high demand and require prompt payment,” said Lue, who founded the company in 1987.

“We needed a cash outlay because many Far East suppliers are C.O.D.” Lue describes the SBDC at FIU mentor that worked with Ocho Rios as “a wizard at financial matters,” helping secure a line of credit from Capital Bank. Working closely with Lue and his partners, they put Ocho Rios on the right track for continued growth. “The... Read More

DORAL, Fla. - DemeTECH Corporation is a South Florida-based manufacturer of surgical sutures and blades that exports to more than 100 countries around the world. When its Chairman and CEO, Luis Arguello Sr., purchased DemeTECH in 2000, the company was doing less than $100,000 in sales – all of it from domestic buyers.   Today, more than 90% of its revenue – more than $10 million - comes from exports, including sales to the Middle East, Europe, Asia and Australia. In 2011, DemeTECH opened a new manufacturing facility in Miami Lakes which has helped to nearly quadruple its workforce since its modest beginnings.   Although DemeTECH’s road to success was paved with some challenges, Mr. Arguello’s foresight enabled his company to flourish by leveraging thesupport of various state and federal partners – including the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the Export Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) and the U.S. Commercial Service (USCS). Initially, one of Mr. Arguello’s greatest... Read More
Photo of Dawn Dickson
Dawn Dickson may be donning flats, but she’s walking tall these days. Dickson, founder of Miami based shoe company Flat Out of Heels, was named the 2016 second place winner in the Small Business Administration’s InnovateHer Business Challenge.   The national competition was created by the SBA to highlight and empower women entrepreneurs. With nearly 2,000 competitors, the second round of the InnovateHER Business Challenge began in August 2015.   The live pitch competition took place in March before a panel of expert judges that included media entrepreneur Nely Galan, MSNBC host JJ Ramberg, and haircare entrepreneur Lisa Price. The event “was a great opportunity to focus on products geared toward women,” says Dickson. “It brings to the forefront the issues women entrepreneurs are facing.”   The $20,000 reward for winning second place isn’t too bad either. “Winning the money definitely helped me with my business,” shesays, noting the money is being used to develop a new web site for the... Read More