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Success Stories

Kate McAleer

Many times we have heard from elected officials and experts that Maine needs young people, and especially entrepreneurial young people to move here. Well, Kate McAleer fits that profile. After starting her company, Bixby & Co., LLC in New York State, Katedecided to move to Rockland to produce her candy bars made with natural and healthier ingredients. Taking full advantage of all the various programs available to young entrepreneurs in the state, from competitions that provided funding, to free programs like business mentoring services from the Women’s Business Center and Maine Technology Institute, and an SBA 7(a) loan, Bixby has seen truly astounding growth and success. Initially hand wrapping the Bixby Bars at the Coastal Farms and Food ProcessingCenter in Belfast, the company was able to move into a new facility in Rockland, and has switched to much more efficient production. By using the full range of resources available to her and her business, Kate has been able to see... Read More

ARWO wall art

The goal of every parent is for their children to learn and prosper as they grow, and Arwo (which means prosperous in Somali) makes sure their staff focuses on those goals. Naima Abdirhmon, the owner, has witnessed the great potential that comes from theright opportunities. Her mother brought the family to the United States from Somalia, and taught her children to be hardworking, creative, and compassionate.

For Naima, the ideal business was child care. Working with Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) beginning in 2014, the vision for Arwo began to take shape. For the first year, most of the activity was in professional development and branding. In 2015, the business took off, as it received a $35,000 SBA-backed microloan to expand its space and build on itscustomer base. The expanded space allowed room for the unique curriculum that has allowed Arwo to succeed. By building a multi-cultural environment that embraces each child and allows them to develop in the way that best... Read More

Ben Okafor at pharmacy counter

Benjamin Okafor was born in Nanka, Nigeria to a family with eight children. As the youngest, he was expected get a good education and launch a professional career as his siblings had done before him. Obeying the command to succeed, he qualified as a pharmacist in Nigeria, then moved to London in 1999 to convert his licensing into the British system. His sweetheart, Angela, stayed behind in Nigeria to complete law school. “In our culture, both of us realized separation was a sacrifice we’d have to make in order to get ahead, so off I went to London, a move she and my family understood and supported.” In 2001 Ben was hired at London’s Guys & St. Thomas Hospital as one of 90 pharmacists.

During this time, Angela visited or he returned to Nigeria on vacations. In 2006 opportunity came knocking and Ben answered. He was recruited in London by Rite Aid Pharmacy in 2006, as part of an initative to find qualified pharmacists to work in rural areas. Issued a HIB Visa work permit,... Read More

Margo Walsh

Throughout our history, America has been viewed as a place for second chances and a new start, and Margo Walsh’s business lives up to that idea like few others.

Margo Walsh knows that personal struggle and past mistakes can make life difficult for anyone seeking to turn their lives around. That’s why her company, MaineWorks, is about more than just business, it’s based around a mission to provide an opportunity to those who may have been abandoned or left behind because of their past.

Starting in 2011, with guidance from the Portland chapter of SCORE, MaineWorks began providing temporary workers to the construction industry. But what sets MaineWorks apart is where they find their temporary workers. Margo specifically wanted to work with people recovering from addiction and recently released non-violent offenders.

By providing gainful and supportive employment to these populations (as many as 70 workers at a time), Margo ensures that her temporary employees are... Read More