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Success Stories

Sherry Acanfora-Ruohomaki got an idea for a business in her head one day in 2002.  For the next nine years, she poked, prodded and turned over every aspect of the idea in her spare time.  Ironically, her full time job involved using her degree in computer and electrical engineering in helping entrepreneurs develop their own high tech-centered businesses.  Finally, the day came where she decided to act on her idea and there was nothing high tech about it. 

“I guess you can say I got tired of working with the two-legged variety of animal and decided to work with the four-legged variety,” recalled Sherry.

With a U.S. Small Business Administration 7(a) Express loan of $235,000 from SunTrust bank in August 2009, Sherry opened “K9 Kampus,” a unique one-of-a-kind animal care facility that features day care, grooming and boarding facilities. 

“It wasn’t easy getting a loan during that time.  I was rejected by many banks.  SunTrust Bank met with me and submitted my... Read More

Miami Natural Food Store Buzzing With Business at New Location

Small business owner Robert Penna opened his Miami, Fla., health food store “Beehive Natural Foods” and operated in the 1000-square-foot rented space for 33 years.   But last summer, he and half-dozen small business owners in the same strip-mall received unexpected news from the landlord.  The building was sold and everyone had to move out within the next six months.

“Needless to say, I became very anxious about where I was going to go,” said Penna recalling the announcement that left him and the other business owners shocked. 

Penna had no choice.  This wasn’t something he had ever considered and he had no idea where to move his business.  But one thing he did know was that he was going to need a loan to make the move.  With advice from his mortgage broker, Penna began researching SBA loan program options.  He began the approval process with SunTrust Bank and shortly afterwards found a retail space for sale just a couple miles further down the road.

“I always... Read More

The U.S. Small Business Administration South Florida District’s Women’s Business Center (WBC) at Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne is an integral business resource for inspiring women entrepreneurs and helping women-owned small businesses grow and create jobs.   Just ask Jeanne Whitman, owner of Melbourne’s “Achieve Beautiful Skin”. 


Whitman, who opened “Achieve Beautiful Skin” just a few years ago, is one of many south Florida, woman-owned businesses who credit greater success through programs offered at WBC.  Her success is why this year’s theme for Women History Month, “Celebrating Women of Character, Courage, and Commitment,” is representative of women-owned small business success in south Florida. 


“I always had a dream of opening my own beauty spa,” said Jeanne.  “My sister Carol was a beauty queen and I was a cheerleader for the Miami Dolphins cheerleader for three years.  I wanted to help other women develop and keep a positive... Read More

Growing up in the small town of Danville, Va. as a first generation American son of a Cuban father and Colombian mother, Richard Estevez was self-conscious of his identity and culture.  Though the city population was nearly equally balanced between whites and blacks, being Hispanic set Estevez apart from the rest of the kids in school.

He didn’t like being different.

“Initially, I did not associate myself with the Hispanic culture and I did not want to speak Spanish,” Estevez said recalling his elementary school days.  “However, that changed when I was about 10 years old.”

When he was old enough, Estevez’ father sent him to work in the region’s farms with other migrant workers, most of whom were from Mexico.  But Estevez wasn’t sent to help harvest crops. 

“My father was an educated man and he took me to the fields to serve as an interpreter between the migrant workers and doctors.  I helped the workers explain to the doctors what was bothering them by... Read More