Celebrate Small Businesses this 4th of July Weekend!

Celebrate Small Businesses this 4th of July Weekend!

In Oakland or Petaluma, San Bruno or San Francisco, local businesses are what make neighborhoods special. And wherever you’re from, chances are that there is a Working Solutions entrepreneur nearby—a local business owner who is earning their livelihood, creating jobs, and bringing something a little different to your community. 

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Celebrating Thriving Rural Business in Sonoma with Wells Fargo

Celebrating Thriving Rural Business in Sonoma with Wells Fargo

Local community leaders and small business owners joined Working Solutions and Wells Fargo Bank to celebrate the launch of a new initiative to expand access to capital and business skill-building services to rural businesses in Sonoma, Napa, and Marin counties. The event, hosted by the Sonoma County Economic Development Board, was attended by Vice-Chair of the Sonoma Board of Supervisors Shirlee Zane, as well as a representative from Supervisor Gore’s office, and was catered by Working Solutions small business client Windsor-based Mama Tina's Ravioli.

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Black Bark BBQ Brings the Heat to the Lower Fillmore

Black Bark BBQ Brings the Heat to the Lower Fillmore

On January 12, the Lower Fillmore District of San Francisco got a little smokier with the grand opening of Black Bark BBQ. Owners David Lawrence and Monetta White are longtime residents of the neighborhood (and own nearby 1300 Fillmore) and have dreamed of bringing barbecue back to the Fillmore District. The opening celebration featured samples of Chef David's killer chicken, sausage, and brisket, piled high with Black Bark's very own barbecue sauces, and an appearance by Mayor Ed Lee, who declared January 12 "Black Bark BBQ Day" in San Francisco.

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Announcing the Marin Loan Fund, Round 2!

Working Solutions Business Lending Associate Roberto Hernandez with Tongbu Wellness Center Owner Heide Nielsen

Working Solutions Business Lending Associate Roberto Hernandez with Tongbu Wellness Center Owner Heide Nielsen

Working Solutions, a Bay Area nonprofit microlender, today announces the second round of funding for its Marin Loan Fund for small businesses. The fund, initially launched in June 2014 with an investment of $200,000, will be extended with an additional $190,000 thanks to the generous support of the Marin financial community.

The Marin Loan Fund is a collaborative partnership between the Marin Economic Forum, a nonprofit focused on improving Marin’s economic vitality and social equity, Working Solutions, and Marin financial institutions. Seven local financial institutions contributed to both rounds of the fund: Bank of Marin, First Community Bank, First Bank, Opus Bank, Presidio Bank, Redwood Credit Union, and Wells Fargo Bank.

“We were able to fund eight low-income entrepreneurs in five months of the fund’s first round,” Working Solutions CEO Emily Gasner said. “That’s a true testament to the need for affordable financing in the Marin small business community.” Gasner said 63 percent of the funded businesses are owned by women, and half are start-ups with less than two years in business. “More than a year into their loan terms, all eight businesses are thriving and have created or retained 26 jobs in the Marin community.”

According to Dr. Rob Eyler, chief economist of the Marin Economic Forum, every dollar of revenue generated by a Working Solutions borrower creates an estimated $2.16 in the local economy through local taxes, wages, and other spending.

Tongbu Wellness Center, a community alternative healthcare center in Novato, is one of the businesses funded by the Marin Loan Fund. Owner Heide Nielsen launched her business in 2014, but her start-up status made bank funding difficult to find. The Marin Economic Forum and Bank of Marin referred Heide to Working Solutions, where she received a loan from the Marin Loan Fund along with post-loan services like consulting on her marketing plan and financial mentorship from a Redwood Credit Union employee. A year later, Tongbu Wellness Center has created seven jobs in Marin.


Laurie O’Hara, Working Solutions’ Director of Business Development, hopes that the Marin Loan Fund can serve as a model for similar programs in other Bay Area counties. “What we’ve built here is a partnership between nonprofits and banks to create a program that understands the local context and is bolstering the economy in a sustainable way. We’re thrilled to have the support of our bank partners as we expand the Marin Loan Fund to double the impact of the program.”

To learn more about Working Solutions' lending and business consulting programs, please see our Loan Overview page. 

Laurie O'Hara, Working Solutions Business Development Director

Laurie O'Hara, Working Solutions Business Development Director