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Philadelphia District Office Success Stories

Philadelphia District Office Success Stories

Maribel Rodriguez finds path to successful entrepreneurship in Reading, Pa.  with technical assistance and SBA-guaranteed 7(a) Loan

Maribel Rodriguez has always had motherly instincts. As a stay-at-home mom with two children, she noticed the severe lack of affordable and reliable childcare facilities in the City of Reading – so she decided to create her own. Rodriguez opened “The White House Day Care Center” located in one of the poorest sections of Reading on Oley Street in 2006, with space for 12 children.

Rodriguez utilized the services of the Kutztown University Small Business Development Center’s Latino Business Resource Center to improve her business knowledge prior to opening her daycare business. Within six years of starting her business, “The White House Day Care Center” was completely full and maxed out with an extensive waiting list. Rodriguez’s daycare serves primarily low to moderate income families 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

In 2012, Rodriguez came to Community First Fund because she greatly needed to expand her day care operation. The waiting list for “The White House Daycare” had over 60 individuals that had been waiting to get into the daycare for four years. Fortunately, Rodriguez found a new location in the Berkshire Towers right across from Reading City Hall and opened “The White House Day Care Center 2” in 2013.

The new day care facility, which has room for 62 children, is centrally located on Court Street between City Hall and the County Services Center in a high-rise low-income apartment housing complex. Rodriguez still operates both day care centers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and staffs the new location with employees from her original facility.

Rodriguez worked with Community First Fund lender Jim Buerger on a U.S. Small Business Administration-guaranteed loan for $85,000 to complete renovations on the new facility, as well as initial working capital for inventory and operating costs for the first few months. Rodriguez was able to use the cash flow from her first day care center to pay back the loan, instead of relying on income from the new location.

In addition to guaranteeing loans like the one Rodriguez has with lending partners like Community First Fund, SBA directs a national entrepreneurial network of resource partners like Kutztown SBDC that provides mentoring, training, resources and business assistance to entrepreneurs and small businesses across the country each year. In fiscal year 2014 SBA’s counseling partners assisted more than 1 million businesses in FY ‘14 in the 40 counties of SBA’s Eastern Pennsylvania District Office.

Rodriguez is a true entrepreneur in every way. She says she has learned so much from opening and running her own businesses, and advises women entrepreneurs to never stop learning. Running two businesses takes up much of Rodriguez’s time, but she truly loves the work she does and has received the most reward out of doing good things for other people. She feels that her family lives and thrives in the City of Reading, partly due to the hard work and determination she has put into owning her business.

The Women’s Business Center at Community First Fund serves 13 counties in central and eastern Pennsylvania by providing training, customized business counseling, loan capital, and advocacy support to small business owners. In 2014, 37% of loans Community First Fund made were to women business owners. In addition, the Women’s Business Center conducted 58 trainings attracting 444 entrepreneurs in fiscal year 2014, many in partnership with SBA. The overall vision of Community First Fund is to create vibrant and diverse communities where individuals prosper and are free from poverty and discrimination.