Kaua’i Micro funds over 50 business start-ups, expansions

LIHU’E — Maui Economic Opportunity’s Business Development Corporation (MEO Micro), which operates Kaua’i Micro on this island, was recently certified as a Community Development Financial Institution by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

MEO Micro is a microenterprise which has been helping the small business community for four years with business loans and entrepreneurial education, said Barry Gay, MEO economic development director.

MEO Micro has operated for nine months on this island as Kaua’i Micro, where it has loaned $115,000 to create 16 businesses and help 35 other businesses to expand.

Over 20 persons have graduated from three entrepreneurial courses here.

According to Larry Dressler, Kaua’i Micro loan fund manager, “This is economic development at its grass roots.

“We work with low- and moderate-income people who do not have access to traditional lending sources, but who have a plan for a business which could be a success,” Dressler said.

“We help that person to see if the idea will be profitable, provide technical assistance when needed, and award a loan which will generate income,” he explained.

The maximum for the first loan is $5,000, but it can be higher for subsequent loans to a profitable borrower.

FastTrac is the entrepreneurial education course, a one-night-a-week training for a total of nine weeks that teaches a person how to write a feasibility study, the heart of a business plan.

“In each class, there are students who realize the business is not going to be what they thought it was, either in operation or in profits, and they decide not to start,” said Dan Flavin, MEO trainer.

“To us, that’s a success, because we’ve saved that person a lot of time, heartache, and money,”said Flavin.

“This is just as important as helping the others with business information and research which will ensure their success,” Flavin said.

The businesses helped by Kaua’i Micro cover a wide spectrum of occupations, including clothing manufacturers, farmers, woodworkers, store and restaurant owners, and many, many more.

Kaua’i Micro is located at 4374 Kukui Grove St., room 202.

The telephone number is 635-6577.

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