SBA Microlender Tows the Way

Situation:
When Mohamed Haji trained as an auto body mechanic he dreamed of opening his own shop. After years working in the industry he reached out to one of SBA’s Microlending Program partners, the African Development Center (ADC), to quit dreaming and start doing. However, with a low credit score and limited knowledge of finance, he had some work to do before starting.

How the SBA and partner helped:

Sitting down with ADC counselor Emma Kasiga in 2015, Haji worked on budgeting, paying down debt and disputing errors on his credit report. He also took an entrepreneurial class at ADC and began, with Emma’s guidance, to work on his business plan.

Upon reviewing the plan, his lack of capital and credit history revealed he was not ready to start the whole auto body shop but could begin with a small part of the big vision – the towing business. While it was part of his big picture, he hadn’t considered it as a stepping stone. With the help of ADC and an SBA microloan, Haji was ready and able to get his first tow truck in 2017. 

Impact/Outcome:

Since starting with the towing service, Haji has expanded to offer key fob replacements and other services including repair estimates. He’s also hired someone to manage his books and hired his first employee. Looking ahead, Haji plans to open a storage lot to keep vehicles during the insurance claim process. 

With ADC’s help, he’s learned to keep his business expenses well organized and compare his sales so he knows where and how fast he’s growing. He also gives back to help others in the community get their start.  Along with being known for excellent service, Haji’s Towing offers a significant discount to teachers to show appreciation for the difference they made in his life. As he put it, “I was a good kid who tried to be a bad kid and it was a teacher who showed me that I could do good things with my life.”

With the help of an SBA microloan and the technical assistance provided by ADC, Haji is working on the next stage of his bigger vision - to open an auto body shop in the now foreseeable future.