For as long as she could remember, Naomi wanted to run her own business. Inspired by a lack of good gluten-free food, she began to operate a small gluten-free bakery, CeleeakNak. After Naomi lost her day job, CeleeakNak soon became a full-time occupation. She realized that if she was going to live off the profits from this bakery, she would have to scale the business and reduce her costs. However, due to personal obstacles from her past, Naomi was unable to obtain financing from traditional banking institutions.
After unsuccessful attempts to secure a small business loan, Naomi found Rise Asset Development who offered her financing based on the strength of her character, her work ethic and her business plan. "They felt confident that I had overcome my personal obstacles and could follow through. They were willing to take a chance on me." Using a $5,000 Rise loan, Naomi was able to upgrade to high volume kitchen equipment and to purchase ingredients at wholesale prices.
The impact of the loan on CeleeakNak's costs and production were immediately evident. After securing the top four Organic Retails outlets in Ottawa as customers, Naomi was ready to scale again, this time with her eyes on bigger targets; Farmboy, with 14 stores, and Metro, with 11 stores, were growth opportunities for CeleeakNak that would change the face of her business. Naomi went back to Rise and was successfully approved for a $5,000 revolving line of credit, giving her the liquidity to manage her cash flow during this rapid growth period.
Naomi now has a 20-quart Hobart Mixer towering over her itty bitty KitchenAid, and a commercial convection oven that can pump out an entire order in under an hour. She has secured one Farmboy location to date with more to come. This single location has generated more sales than all of her other locations combined! "Re-inventing myself and my career wasn't easy. When I started my business I believed it was the right thing to do, but so many doors were closed to me. Rise helped to open all of them. Now my company grows a bit every day -- I love the taste of success!"
Rise Asset Development, with the support of the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), provides microfinancing and mentorship to entrepreneurs with a history of mental health or addiction challenges across the province of Ontario.
In the Ottawa region, Rise operates through Causeway Work Centre as Rise Ottawa. Causeway Work Centre is a community economic development organization that empowers and supports people in overcoming disabilities and other challenges to help them find rewarding work and live more independently.
"The growing interest in Rise Ottawa throughout our community has been exciting. Entrepreneurship is certainly a strategy that many people who are living with an addiction and/or mental health challenge wish to engage in yet find it difficult to navigate through business plan development, mentorship and financing, all of which are packaged into the services provided by Rise Ottawa. While entrepreneurship can provide flexibility and built in accommodations, it certainly is a journey that is filled with hard work and dedication and we're excited to serve more entrepreneurs in Ottawa as the Rise Ottawa program continues to gain momentum." Doug Pawson, Program & Social Business Manager at Causeway Work Centre.