Success Stories

Craft brewing has become big business in Maine, and no one recognizes that more than Heather and Nathan Sanborn, owners of Rising Tide Brewing in Portland. Starting off with a small 1,500 foot location in 2010, the company quickly outgrew their space with the help of the Portland Small Business Development Center and found a new location in 2012. Equipment upgrades in 2013, financed with SBA 7a loans, allowed the company to add new fermenters and a bottling line, allowing them to increase production and distribution capacity.

Using the “foodie” culture of Portland to their advantage, Rising Tide offers tours of the brewery and caters to the various brewery tour companies that now operate in the city, as well as food trucks that park outside their location. Nathan has also focused on creating traditional beer with unique tastes, trying them out at home before introducing them to the public. This strategy has allowed the company to see steady growth over the past several years... Read More

ARWO Wall Art

The goal of every parent is to 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 the right 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 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 an SBA-backed loan to expand its space and build on its customer 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 suits their abilities, Arwo has... Read More

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

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