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Success Stories

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

Evan Carroll and Sasha Salzberg

In June 2011, husband and wife team Evan Carroll and Sasha Salzberg started their small architecture firm, BILD Architecture, LLC. Evan was the licensed architect, and Sasha managed the marketing and financial management of the company. This teamwork has clearly paid off for BILD, as they continue to grow their portfolio of projects with the help of a $30,000 SBA Express loan. Most recently, the firm announced their newest project, a six unit condominium complex in Portland’s Munjoy Hill neighborhood.

The success of BILD’s designs can almost certainly be traced back to the focus of their projects: special attention is paid to energy efficiency, access to local infrastructure, and suiting the building to the local environment. With Portland’s growing reputation nationally as a leader in artistic scenes, the look and feel of BILD’s designs definitely complements the local culture.

Evan has also gone above and beyond to make sure BILD’s designs suit Maine’s aging... Read More

Paula and Stephen Farrar

Paula and Stephen Farrar were no strangers to wool and yarn, having previously owned their own flock of sheep. However, due to unforeseen tragedies, they found themselves unable to continue on that path, so the couple decided to launch Done Roving Yarns in 2009.

From the early days of the Farrars working in their basement, hand-painting yarn to order, Done Roving has seen growth and change that inspires those of us who may wish to start our own business at home. By creating products that match the breathtaking scenery of Maine, and providing knitting patterns for their customers along with the yarn, and by working with the local Women's Business Center, Done Roving quickly became a favorite of knitters in the Pine Tree State and beyond. To date, their yarns can be found in 41 states and the District of Columbia, as well as in one store located in Ontario.

In addition to the Farrars, Done Roving has added three part-time employees, and is poised to move into a 5,000... Read More