success stories

Efiya Asabi of Iyoba

Efiya Asabi started her business, Iyoba, in 2005.  Iyoba is an organic soap and skin care products company that was born out of the need for Efiya to find a product for her son that helped his eczema condition.  There was nothing on the market so Efiya made natural oatmeal soap for him, and it worked!  Friends and family started...
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Iyoba Logo
Feliciano Zavala of Peninsula Party Rentals

Perhaps the first indication of Feliciano Zavala‘s potential for entrepreneurial success was a rapid promotion from truck driver to general manager during his ten year employment period with a party rental company. In 2005, the business-minded Feliciano followed his instincts, placed his bet and rolled the dice. Quitting his job with the party rental company, he and his wife opened...
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Feliciano Zavala
Gail Lillian of Liba Falafel

After 18 years of working in the food industry, including stints as a pastry chef and as the owner of “The Lilly Pad” café on the CCA Campus in Oakland, Gail Lillian acquired the skills and experiences she needed to strike out on her own and pursue a new venture. In the spring of 2008, Gail enrolled in Renaissance’s 14-week...
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Gail Lillian of Liba Falafel
Geraldine Martinez

When Geraldine Martinez turned 15, a very important year for young women in Mexican tradition, her parents threw her a “Quinceañera” or debutante ball.  That experience led them to open their own party decorations store in Michoacán, Mexico.  Eventually, the family immigrated to the United States and opened a very similar business. That enterprise proved unsuccessful, but a few years...
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Geraldine Martinez
Gillian Shaw of Black Jet Baking Company

As the child of two avid bakers in Worcester, Massachusetts, Gillian Shaw knew from an early age that she had a knack for the oven. “Baking was the first thing I realized I was really good at,” says Gillian, “Even as a kid it was fun to see people eating and enjoying what I’d made.”  She parlayed this youthful passion...
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Gillian Shaw