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Success Stories

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

Joshua Broder of Tilson Technology

As a U.S. Army Signal Officer, Joshua Broder built extensive knowledge of complex communications systems, often located in difficult environments such as Afghanistan and Central Asia. Applying the lessons he learned in the Army, Josh returned to Maine with the expertise to guide Tilson Technology to record growth since taking over leadership of the company in 2009.

Part of the success of Tilson over the past few years can be attributed to the Small Business Investment Company program, which allows small businesses to leverage private capital. Between 2015 and 2016, Tilson received $1 million in equity and sub-debt through this program. By leveraging capital, and utilizing Joshua’s extensive experience, Tilson was able to take on large projects, such as Maine’s “three ring binder” broadband expansion project, work on the U.S. Embassy in Norway, as well as various Recovery Act projects. As the company’s profile grew as a result of the quality work they provide, Tilson brought... 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