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Success Stories

By Norman Eng, Public Information Officer

A Women's History Month Success Story

(Image courtesy of: Vision's Sown: An Ancient Baking Company)


In 2002, Tonya Johnson’s 15-month old son was diagnosed with recurring anemia, suffering from acute malnutrition and multiple food allergies.  Tonya had to learn a new way to care for her son, and discovered that introducing nutrient dense, allergen friendly and easy to digest foods to his diet –helped stabilize his fragile health condition.  After developing special recipes that helped her son to recover – Tonya and her mother started Vision's Sown, An Ancient Vegan Baking Company. 

While looking for ways to grow her business, Tonya began researching small business assistance programs and came across the SBA’s 8(a) Business Development program.  Attracted by the business resources offered, Tonya set out to apply in the fall of 2005; however, the mother-daughter team’s initial 8(a) application did... Read More

By Oreste Varela, SBA Springfield Branch Manager

A Western Massachusetts Success Story

(Image courtesy of: Berkshire Brewing Company) 


Gary Bogoff was a general contractor and cabinet maker prior to launching Berkshire Brewing Company in 1994.  What started out as a hobby in 1991, took Gary and his co-founders on a journey that they could not possibly imagine.   

A key skill Gary developed as a contractor and cabinet maker was to ask lots of questions.  During the genesis of his business, it was the local business assistance network that answered his questions about the possibilities of owning his beer company.  He started with the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce who were very helpful and referred him to the Franklin County Community Development Corporation for more advice.  The business support community next connected him to the Western Regional Office of the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center.  The assistance from all... Read More

Betsy Hill

By Guest Contributor: Lisa Achoki, Center for Women & Enterprise; Edited by Norman Eng, SBA Massachusetts

Veteran entrepreneurs are increasingly contributing to business creation and growth to the American economy after service. Active duty and reserve service often instills important skills and leadership abilities that are directly relevant to business ownership.  A profile of Veteran’s Business Ownership by SBA’s Office of Advocacy [1] reported that the share of women business owners have increased among both veterans and non-veterans, but at a much greater rate for female veterans.  In 2012, only 4.4 percent of veteran business owners were women – up from 2.5 percent in 2008, almost doubling in numbers.

Betsy Hill had no prior business experience before launching Neighborhoods Café.  A Boston University alumnus, Betsy was a member of the Reserved Officers’ Training Course (ROTC) while in college, and was deployed to Turkey as part of the US Air Force upon her... Read More

Rita Assuncao, Owner

By Guest Contributor: LEAF Fund (Ben Selden, Amine Benali, Chris Hunter, & Gerardo Espinoza), Edited by Norman Eng, SBA Massachusetts

Over the last 20 years, the role of immigrant entrepreneurs has grown. The percentage of the self-employed who were born abroad more than doubled between 1994 and 2015, growing from 8.6 percent to 19.5 percent. A report released by the SBA Office of Advocacy [1] shows that the growth was caused by three changes – an increase in the size of the population born abroad, an increase in self-employment among those born abroad, and a decrease in self-employment overall.

When Rita Assuncao moved to the United States, her entrepreneurial instincts began to fuel a desire for starting and owning her own business. Pao de Queijo or cheese rolls – a popular food back home in Brazil, were not easily found in local supermarkets – so she saw an opportunity to bring a new product to market for an emerging population in the region.

Rita’s idea... Read More