Duke Energy Gifts $100,000 to CommunityWorks in Ongoing Support of Small Business Coaching and Lending in the Wake of COVID-19
Friday, December 18th, 2020
CommunityWorks’ clients and owners of Unlocked Coffee Roasters, Andres Camargo and Rocio Salazar, had to pivot when the long-anticipated opening of their Colombian coffee café, Unlocked Coffee Roasters, fell on the same week businesses were required to close in March. Despite their best efforts, the momentum they had been building for over two years in preparation to open Unlocked Coffee in Greenville quickly deflated. As safety policies, particularly in the food industry, tightened, and fear rose in the wake of the virus, Andres and Rocio searched for ways to stay open. By offering curbside pickup, introducing an extensive list of sanitization regulations, and continuing to sell their trademark coffee beans by the bag, Andres and Rocio were able to continue welcoming customers.
Andres is quick to share the difficulty and unpredictability of opening a business in 2020, but his passion for his trade remains. Thankfully, business has started to pick up, which Andres contributes mostly to word of mouth via faithful customers. This momentum allowed them to recently hire their first employees.
Unlocked Coffee received microloans from CommunityWorks to open their business, and since, benefitted from ongoing coaching through CommunityWorks’ business coaches, Jonathan Rowland and Zack Wright. “CommunityWorks always shows interest and helps and tells the truth. It doesn’t feel like you’re working with a big bank,” Andres said. “They have the perspective of a lender that cares for your needs.”
Adrena Mullins, owner of Lil Jazzi’s Café in Florence, has also found creative ways to remain fruitful as a restaurant owner in 2020. Lil Jazzi’s, which is the only café in the Florence Regional Airport, saw a dramatic decrease in business due to lack of air travel from COVID-19. Adrena decided to focus her energy on her existing vending machines, and even received a microloan from CommunityWorks to expand her services. The vending machines helped provide income when she ultimately had to close her business in the airport. Though she is hopeful she will be able to reopen the airport café when travel increases, she has turned her focus to a new venture.
When a storefront opened in downtown Florence, the city encouraged her to consider taking her famous salads, sandwiches and more downtown. Lil Jazzi’s plans to open as the first café in the growing downtown of Florence in early 2021. Adrena’s resilience can be attributed to her lifelong desire of entrepreneurship. “I worked at Target for 16 years, but I always wanted to own by own business,” Adrena said. “I never imagined I’d be in the restaurant industry, but people keep coming back for the food.”