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West Virginia District Office Success Stories

West Virginia District Office Success Stories

Judy McCauley, DD; Raja Sundaram, Owner; Tim James, Microlender

SBA Microloan Program Helps Successful Business Get Started

Chaang Thai Restaurant, North Central West Virginia’s only Thai restaurant, soon celebrates their third anniversary. Chaang   

Thai has seen great success in Morgantown and is open to further expansion in the future.

Raja Sundaram, originally from India, was an IT specialist working on a government contract in
Washington, D.C. when his wife, Pookie suggested they open a Thai restaurant. Raja dismissed the idea for six months but eventually got on board with his wife’s idea. After two years of extensive research, Raja and Pookie opened Chaang Thai in Morgantown, WV.

How did they do it?

Raja knew he wanted to open the restaurant in a college town that had 20,000+ students, a busy downtown, a stable economy, and he wanted to be the first Thai Restaurant in the community. All of these factors led him to WVU, High Street, in Morgantown, West Virginia. What kept him here were the great resources he came across, all funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Tell me more about the SBA!

Raja was determined and ready to bring Thai food to the students of WVU and residents of Morgantown. But, he needed financing to do it.

After meeting with Terri Cutright, executive director of Main Street Morgantown, Raja was directed to a Morgantown small businesscoach , Sharon Stratton,  at the West Virginia Small Business Development Center. West Virginia’s Small Business Development Center is funded, in part, through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.  Stratton assisted Raja in writing a business plan, forming his company, and ultimately getting financing through SBA’s microloan program.

Raja obtained his SBA microlan through First Microloan of West Virginia.  SBA’s Microloan program provides loans, up to $50,000, to small businesses through more than 100 lenders nationwide. The program also provides business-based training and technical assistance to micro-borrowers to help them successfully start and grow their business.

“Without the help from Sharon at the SBDC and the loan through First Microloan of West Virginia, I wouldn’t have been able to open my own small business,” states Raja.

“Raja and Pookie were wonderful to work with.  They had been looking up and down the east coast for a college town where they could start their restaurant.  Chaang Thai has become a fantastic addition to Downtown Morgantown,” states Stratton.

Small businesses interested in learning more about programs and services offered by the SBA can visit www.sba.gov for more information.

OF NOTE: For more information or one-on-one interviews, contact Nikki Bowmar, SBA’s West Virginia Public Affairs Specialist (nikki.bowmar@sba.gov)


This article does not constitute or imply an endorsement by SBA of any opinions, products or services of any private individual or entity. All of SBA’s programs and services are extended to the public on a non-discriminatory basis. The SBA is an independent federal agency, created in 1983, to assist small businesses start, grow, and prosper. The SBA provides financial assistance by: (1) making loans to help families and businesses recover from national disasters and (2) providing loan guarantees to commercial financial institutions for working capital (7a loans),  building/land/equipment (504 loans through the Certified Development Corporations), and for exports. Through our resource partners, the SBA also offers a variety of business development program and services such as training, government contracting and export assistance. SBA resource partners include Small Business Development Centers and SCORE (Counselors to America’s Small Businesses). For information on the SBA’s programs and services contact us at 304-623-5631 or www.sba.gov/wv.