Brewla Bars in the Running to Become WSJ ‘Startup of the Year’

Brewla Bars are based on the finest brewed teas and botanicals with fruit and dairy ingredients. Each bar is naturally enhanced with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and contains less sugar than an apple.

Clients Daniel and Rebecca Dengrove, co-founders of the ice pop company Brewla Bars Inc., have been chosen to participate in the Wall Street Journal’s first season of their new documentary series ‘Startup of the Year’. The sibling duo first pitched their business to the WSJ at the Accion Client Ambassador Breakfast last March. With 24 startups selected from over 500 applicants, all competing for the title, the five month-long episodic documentary is now in full swing on WSJ Live.

After hearing the good news of Brewla’s nomination, I reached out to Daniel to get his take on this exciting opportunity: “We are thrilled to be selected as the only food business in the running for ‘Startup of the Year,’ with access to an amazing list of business mentors and a platform to share our products and story. We would have never had the opportunity if it wasn’t for the support of Accion,” Daniel said.

A Brewla Bars stand at the Fulton Stall Market in NYC

Brewla Bars’ stand at the Fulton Stall Market in NYC

Not only are Daniel and Rebecca receiving mentorship from highly successful business leaders and entrepreneurs but also invaluable exposure of their business featured on WSJ’s digital platforms, with viewership of over 25 million people per month.

I personally, along with the entire Accion Staff, wish Daniel and Rebecca the best of luck with the competition’s weekly tasks and upcoming eliminations. And in the words of Daniel and Rebecca, don’t forget to “Lick Well, Live Well” this summer, fellow Accionistas!

Help us show support by voting for Brewla Bars at

Check out Rebecca and Daniel's interview with the WSJ

Click on the photo to watch Rebecca and Daniel’s interview with The Wall Street Journal


La Idea en Accion


Isela grew up in the small town along the US-Mexico border. She was raised in the best of both worlds, exploring the opportunities of the US while remaining closely connected to Mexico’s rich culture. It was this experience that prompted her to start her own business, Hernán, that aims to blend the two cultures in order to sustainably support the economies in both regions.

Hernán started as a kitchenware line targeting foodies whose discerning tastes appreciate the quality and authentic nature of the products. Shortly after, she expanded her business into Mexican chocolates. With the help of an Accion loan, Isela was able to fulfill the ever increasing orders for her award winning products.

Isela’s story is a great inspiration for people wanting to contribute to the economic development of both their host and migrant countries while seeking a niche for themselves in the cultural mix arising as a result of migration. Accion serves as a resource to help entrepreneurs realize their dreams by providing access to capital and technical assistance. It’s clients like Isela who sparked our involvement with the La Idea program.

logoLa Idea is a unique and extremely helpful way of supporting budding entrepreneurs. La Idea is the Latin American Partnership platform that connects entrepreneurs in the United States with those in Latin America, as well as with resources that can help cultivate and grow innovative businesses in hopes of generating employment and economic growth throughout the Americas. The La Idea Business Pitch Competition will serve as a narrative for telling the story of business partnerships, across countries, that create jobs, contribute to social development, and serve as role models and examples for the Latin American diaspora.

Accion has been actively involved with La Idea and aims to support all future initiatives of the program. In the past, we hosted two speed coaching events in Miami for Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs. Today, we are hosting a similar event in New York to benefit our clients and other budding entrepreneurs by providing them business advice and consultancy. We invite all Spanish-speaking business owners to come to the La Idea en Accion event Friday, July 12 at 6:00pm. The event will provide free consulting sessions from experts in the fields of finance, marketing, international trade, and more.

Learn more at


miami pic

Our clients receiving a one on one advice from business experts and interacting with other clients to discuss innovative business tips and advice.


Happy Independence Day


Did you know that Americans most commonly define the American dream as “Opportunity, Freedom and Family?” (The Atlantic)

We’re celebrating our clients’ pursuit of the American dream this Independence day

A mother of three girls, Josefina started her store because she needed the flexibility self-employment offered. “I wanted the freedom to think for myself, make my own decisions and create my own schedule,” remarked Josefina.

De Fifa Variedades, located up in the Bronx, sells clothing, bags, jewelry and home décor. Her independent attitude and fashionable flair has earned her many regulars. These personality traits fueled her decision to expand her inventory. With a daughter in college, Josefina needed the supplemental income expansion would provide her. There was just one obstacle in her way—she needed capital. And that’s where Accion came in to help Josefina pursue her American dream.

This July 4th we are celebrating the success of our clients in their pursuit of the American dream. Like many others, Josefina came to the US to realize her dream of opportunity, freedom and family. Accion’s success lies in helping our clients pursue their dream and in creating an environment of financial inclusion and believing in our clients’ dreams.




Happy Fathers Day, Mario

By Peter Salas, Area Manager, Miami Dade County, Chase Business Banking


Peter Salas received the Award for Dedication at our inaugural Access to Opportunity Awards Luncheon.

My father Mario was a hardworking entrepreneur in the construction industry. He faced many struggles in order to get his business off the ground. He didn’t have access to the opportunities that Accion provides.

Small businesses are a cornerstone of local communities. They bring economic strength and opportunity. They strengthen neighborhood ties.

As a banker, I work every day with small businesses that face the same obstacles my father encountered when he first launched his business over 50 years ago. My father passed away three years ago. In his honor, I work to support entrepreneurs in launching their businesses.

Wearing my Chase hat, I have to say the work that Accion does is fundamental to small business development.  Microlending fills critical market gaps, and partnerships like Accion and Chase’s mean more business owners obtain the necessary capital to kick start their initiatives.

My partnership with Accion is simple — it’s about relationships. Our bankers work side by side with Accion staff to understand which entrepreneurs can be better served by Accion. We make the introduction, Accion fulfills the loan, provides hands on training, and the entrepreneur get a stronger springboard to grow their business. In time, and as their financial needs become more sophisticated, we stand there to help them navigate the resources to further build their business.

I am very proud to be able to support the work of Accion, in Florida and beyond, and help fulfill the mission of an organization to which I am deeply committed. This month, Accion launched a new website to help bankers like me access the resources we need to partner with Accion and together serve more entrepreneurs like my father.

Thanks dad, for your hard work and for your inspiration. Happy Father’s Day.

What motivates you? Share your story in our Bankers For Financial Inclusion group on LinkedIn.

Persisting Seven Months After Sandy

It was 7:10pm on Sunday, October 28th 2012 in Red Hook, Brooklyn. A local popped his head into H&K Grocery store to issue a warning to the owner, Kamal.  “Better close up, the water will be coming in soon.”  Hoping for the best, Kamal closed up his shop and headed home for the night. The next morning, he returned to his store to find everything destroyed.


Kamal, owner of K&Y Grocery Store.

“The water had completely demolished my basement, floors, and cash register,” remembered Kamal.

Originally from Egypt, Kamal has owned H&K Grocery for ten years. Working every day has allowed him to see how the neighborhood has transitioned over the decade. Kamal recognizes most faces that come into his store; those that are unfamiliar, he makes a point to chat with. His grocery store is one of the few food options in the largely industrial section of Red Hook.

Recovery from Superstorm Sandy was not easy. Kamal had lost $50,000 of inventory, and, for 23 days, Kamal and his neighbors were without power.  Many people told Kamal it was not worth reopening his store. But this was his sole livelihood, and he had two teenage sons looking towards college.

“It’s for them that I do this,” said Kamal.

Kamal set up a generator and went to work making as many repairs as possible. Sensitive to others in his community, he set up a stand to give burgers away to hungry workers. Finally, one month after Hurricane Sandy, Kamal reopened his store.  BuKamal is still working on repairing all the damage from the storm.t his troubles did not end there. Kamal had wiped out his savings making repairs to reopen. He needed to finish repairs on his basement, purchase more inventory and retile sections of the floor. He needed help.

Kamal is still working on repairing all the damage from the storm.

Kamal is still working on repairing all the damage from the storm.

Through a community organization supporting businesses damaged after Sandy, Kamal was introduced to an Accion Loan Consultant. After carefully working through the costs of remaining repairs, inventory and working capital with his Loan Consultant, he received a $10,000 loan and a $1,500 grant.

Kamal is still working on getting his store completely back to normal and building up his savings. Though issues are still abundant (he is being asked to pay the electric company for the month he was without power), Kamal remains optimistic. His son, who wants to grow up to be a judge, sent a letter thanking the Accion Loan Consultant who helped his father with the application.

“I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate the help and services you have given to my father and it really brings a smile to my face when I see him so happy and so enthusiastic going through his hard work day schedule. Thank you again for helping him.”

Kamal is one of many New York City business owners with a similar story. Eight months after launching our Sandy Recovery Program, it has come to a close. We supported 77 businesses with over $880,000 in microloans and $133,000 in grants.

Raise a Pint, Brew a Dream

Gretchen Ertl for The New York Times

Carlene O’Garro grew up in an inner city Boston neighborhood. After college, Carlene opted for an office job while she found her true path, but remained frustrated that she wasn’t building anything for herself that would ultimately “be hers.” Listening to her inner voice and passion for baking, she enrolled in the newly created Pastry Chef program at the Cambridge School of Culinary Education.

After graduating, Carlene combined her artistic ability with her professional French pastry techniques to create some of the most decadent desserts around. She started her business, Delectable Desires, by delivering freshly baked pastries to cafés, hospitality inns and hotels in the mornings, also baking tasty cakes and pies for local grocery stores throughout Boston.   In starting her business, Carlene used high interest credit cards to finance her endeavor. Although she knew it was a dangerous, short-term solution, she did not know where else to get the financing she needed for her business.

It was at this time that Carlene heard about a brand new program starting up – the Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream program.  Carlene became the first participant after receiving a loan from Accion East and Online. Since the Brewing the American Dream program began in 2008, more than 230 loans totaling over $2 million have been made to small businesses across the country.

The Boston Beer Company, our partner in the Brewing the American Dream program, has just announced its latest promotion – Raise a Pint, Brew a Dream. The promotion, being offered from April 15 to May 31, 2013, will support small businesses by raising funds for the Brewing the American Dream program. For every Samuel Adams Boston Lager draft purchased from a participating location, The Boston Beer Company will contribute $.05 to our Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream loan fund.

There are over 10,000 participating bars and restaurants across the United States. Grab a Boston Lager and raise your glass to support business owners like Carlene!

Accion Loves Boston – Thank you

Boston has received an overwhelming amount of support this past week. On behalf of the staff here in Boston, we want to say thank you to all Accion chapters across the globe.

Philadelphia loves Boston!

Philadelphia loves Boston

Colombia Loves Boston

Colombia loves Boston

China Loves Boston

China loves Boston

San Antonio, TX loves Boston

San Antonio, TX loves Boston

NY (Alejandra) Loves Boston

Alejandra, NYC, loves Boston

NY (Elenor) Loves Boston

Elenor, NYC, loves Boston

Miami Loves Boston

Miami loves Boston

DC Loves Boston

DC loves Boston

San Francisco Loves Boston

San Francisco loves Boston

NY (Erica) Loves Boston

Erica, NYC, loves Boston

NY (Lauren) Loves Boston

Lauren, NYC, loves Boston

NY (Ashley) Loves Boston

Ashley, NYC, loves Boston

NY (Sami) Loves Boston

Samir, NYC, loves Boston

NY (Kevin and Marco) Love(s) Boston

Kevin and Marco, NYC, love Boston

NY (Maria and Debra) Love(s) Boston

Maria and Debra, NYC, love Boston

William, NYC, loves Boston


NY (Shaolee and Laure) Love(s) Boston

Shaolee and Laura, NYC, love Boston

NY (Katherine)  Loves Boston

Katherine, NYC, loves Boston

NY (Jane)  Loves Boston

Jane, NYC, loves Boston

Chicago Loves Boston

Chicago loves Boston

Libby, Preyeel and Liz Love Boston

Libby, Preyeel and Liz, NYC, love Boston

Brazil Loves Boston

Brazil loves Boston

Jessie and David Announced Finalists of Social Innovation Forum

Accion clients Jessie Banhazl, founder of Green City Growers, and David Warner, owner of City Feed and Supply, were nominated as two of the four Impact Entrepreneur finalists for Root Cause’s 2013 Social Innovation Forum Showcase. Jessie and David have been working closely with their consulting coaches to come up with a clearly defined mission on how their business will help solve social problems in the Greater Boston Area. Months later, it is now time to present their ideas.

Jessie, David and the other two finalists will pitch their business models to a panel of social issue experts and funders at the forum, held this Wednesday, April 24 in Boston.

jessieJessie Banhazl began Green City Growers, an organization that takes an urban spin on farming, in 2008. Realizing the need for local and affordable food options, Jessie put aside her career in reality television production to pursue her passion for the local food market and sustainable living. Jessie’s business designs, installs and maintains personal vegetable gardens; her clientele includes restaurants, hotels, schools, and medical facilities throughout the Greater Boston Area.

people-david-warner-lgDavid Warner is the owner of City Feed and Supply, a neighborhood grocery and deli that stocks their shelves with over 200 local products and produce from over 50 local farms. He now has two locations in Jamaica Plains, Boston and is taking on catering orders and managing an online store.

Good luck to Jessie and David!

Congrats to the Graduates of the 10,000 Small Businesses Program

Sandra (center) was one of six Accion East and Online clients who graduated from the Goldman Sach’s 10,000 Small Businesses Program.

“Conviction. Optimism. Passion for results. Innovation:

Words that describe the entrepreneurial spirit—and the 18 women who graduated Monday night in New York from the 10,000 Small Businesses program, sponsored by Goldman Sachs and the Tory Burch Foundation.

One of the graduates of the Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses Program was fashion designer and Accion client Sandra Nieto. Sandra moved to the United States from Colombia with the dream of running her own business. At first, Sandra took on whatever jobs she could find: babysitter, maid, and beauty salon assistant. In the back of her mind, she knew what she really wanted to do was design clothing.

Sandra began devoting all her free time to designing, cutting, and sewing her clothes. With no advice and no money to hire help, she traveled with her handmade work to trade shows, where she had some success. Her challenge was raising enough capital to take her design business to the next level.

Sandra received a microloan from Accion to rent space and host two fashion shows. With her new earnings, she continued to gradually build and expand her business. Sandra, like many other business owners, had the drive and desire, but lacked the capital and formal business education—barriers to growth and success- to grow.”

Read the entire post from Gina Harman, CEO of the Accion U.S. Network, on the Huffington Post.

Congratulations to each of the Accion East and Online clients who graduated from the Goldman Sach’s 10,000 Small Businesses Program:

Announcing our 2013 Accion Client Ambassadors!


Our 2013 Accion Client Ambassadors!

Last year, we launched Accion’s Client Ambassador Program as a way to provide exciting, growth-oriented opportunities to Accion clients. Throughout 2012, we provided these clients with priority access to special events and media and business development opportunities. On Thursday, we gathered the members of our first Accion Client Ambassador Program and we were thrilled to find out how these opportunities helped their businesses grow.


Daniel (left) poses with Accion East and Online CEO Paul Quintero and Jenny.

Daniel, co-founder of Brewla Bars found the program to be very helpful to his business. “Last year, we were sitting around in this same room asking other entrepreneurs how to deal with a catastrophe. One year later, Brewla Bars can be found in over 40 stores throughout the New York Metro Area, including multiple Whole Foods locations,” said Daniel.

During the same breakfast we announced our 2013 Accion Client Ambassadors. After seeing the positive impact from the 2012 Accion Client Ambassador Program, we are looking forward to watching the next generation grow.

Our 2013 Accion Client Ambassadors are:

  • Beatrice, owner of Brand Excitement. Brand Excitement helps solo professionals get to the next level by building an incomparable identity and marketing plan. Be sure to check out Beatrice’s blog where she provides valuable tips and insights.
  • Scott, owner of The Dream Dept. The Dream Dept. is a creative agency specializing in the disciplines of visual communication and content development.  Take a look at Scott’s reel – it’s sure to inspire you!
  • Claudio, owner of Gonzales Farm. Gonzales Farm is located in upstate New York and sells produce in many of the Greenmarkets across New York City including: Parkchester, Atlas Park, Sunnyside, and Columbia. You can support Claudio’s farm by joining the New Song CSA.
  • Niorca, owner of Project N-400 Multiservice. Project N-400, located in Washington Heights, provides citizenship classes, tax help, and notary services to the Spanish-speaking community.
  • Pat, owner of Styles by Pat. Pat Sumpter Davis is a Celebrity Hairstylist, Image Consultant, Educator, and Philanthropist with more than twenty years in the beauty industry. She works one-on-one with clients to provide hairstyling and total image consulting throughout the New York City area. Check out Pat’s blog to see which celebrities she’s styled.
  • ClientAmbassadorBreakfast

    Melissa introduces her business.

    Melissa, owner of Kynd ‘O’ Mello. Melissa, also known as Mello, founded Kynd ‘O’ Mello, a custom designed cake shop in December 2007.  Take a look at the gallery of beautiful cakes Mello has created. (She’s even created one for Accion!)

  • Jenny, owner of Relish Taiwan.  Relish Taiwan is a food distribution service specializing in Taiwanese cuisine and delivering products daily to businesses in the Queens community. Jenny is a recipient of our Sandy Recovery Business Loan and Grant Program. With this loan, she was able to replace her broken window and damaged equipment to recover from the storm.
  • ClientAmbassadorBreakfast

    Tanisha (left) talks with Beatrice (right)

    Tanisha, owner of Tuff Chicks Painting. Tuff Chicks Painting provides affordable home painting solutions, and provides pictures to homeowners so they can stay updated on the progress while away for the day.  Check out photos of their work on Tuff Chicks Painting’s  blog.

  • Liz and Holly, founders of Bag the Habit. Liz and Holly wanted to change the way people shop, by using premium eco-textiles and thoughtful design details to create reusable solutions that people will want to use every day. Take a look at their custom bag designs on their website.
  • Josh, co-founder of Nextdoor Organics. Nextdoor Organics is an innovative Brooklyn-based CSA (community supported agriculture) program where they source the best locally grown vegetables, herbs, and flowers, and use only organic practices. Join the CSA.
  • Masoud, founder of Heart of Tea.  Heart of Tea offers real-brewed iced tea from fresh-picked leaves.  Masoud is continuing on his family’s work in the tea industry, carrying on a tradition that began with his great-grandfather. Check out Heart of Tea’s blog – it’s a fun take on life in New York City!
  • Pedro, founder of Psofntech. Pedro is a System Analyst/Computer Technician that has been working with computers for more than a decade and a half. Check out the services he offers.

Thanks to Capital One 360 Cafe who hosted our Accion Client Ambassador Networking Breakfast.

Our networking breakfast could not have been made possible without the support of our partners at Capital One 360 Café. (Not to mention their generosity in sharing their beautiful space). View more pictures from the event. If you have any interest in getting involved with the program, please contact Accion Communications Manager, Alejandra Boggiano.