My friend Viv invited me to an event a few months ago. I can’t remember exactly how she said it but this is how it sounded in my head:
Viv: Hey Pilar, you like ice cream. There’s an event for this organization at Coolhaus, blah blah blah blah blah.
I’m sure she said great things about the organization, Opportunity Fund, but you can’t say ice cream, then name my #1 favorite ice cream spot, and expect me to hear/listen for the rest. You will get my attention then I will lose focus.
Anywho, I attended the event, a friendraiser for Opportunity Fund, last September. I was hooked. Opportunity Fund provides microloans to build a more inclusive financial system. One of the businesses they loaned to was Coolhaus. They provided Coolhaus with a $50,000 loan to buy a food truck when they were getting started. Prior to the loan, Natasha and Freya, the owners, had an old mail truck that didn’t work. They had to tow the truck to Coachella. After Coachella, Coolhaus blew up and definitely needed a working truck. Opportunity Fund helped them get that truck– the truck that I used to have to track on Twitter and follow around town! Their success led to a brick and mortar ice cream shop on Washington Boulevard in Culver City. And when they have the flavors Halo and Thai Iced Tea, it’s as if God/The Universe is saying, “Hey World! Life is good! I got chu!”
Back to Opportunity Fund…
As if they organization could not get any awesomer, they had one of the best events I have ever attended. Their event, Taste of Microfinance, celebrated local entrepreneurs that they funded: Ricky’s Fish Tacos, Los Balcones Del Peru, Takuma’s Burger, World Empanadas, CJ’s Wings, Sugarbird Sweets, and Coolhaus. The event was held at SmogShoppe. Super hip, super fun, ridiculously delicious. In addition to the chefs they supported, other businesses they supported were present, including Wurwand Grant Challenge Finalists: Pinky Rose Boutique, Cosmetica Latina, RCO Tires, World Empanadas, and ABL Denim.
Hearing first-hand from the businesses their passion for their craft, the work required, and the difference the loan made in their life was nothing short of inspiring. I spoke with a guest who said that the owner of Pinky Rose was mentoring her. There was so much giving back to the room, regardless of one’s situation in business, profession, or life. Another guest I spoke with asked who the people were in the room- were they the politicians, nonprofits, businesses? I replied, “All of the above!” There were bankers, activists, nonprofit leaders, foundation leaders, entrepreneurs, folks who worked for elected officials, academics, etc. etc. Unlike a number of events I have attended where people were there because 1) they had to, 2) they had to because they were helping fill a table their company sponsored, and/or 3) they just go to events (kinda like FOMO, esp. in L.A.), everyone I spoke with were there because for the same purpose:
[To] come together to support the next generation of entrepreneurs in Los Angeles – ensuring everyone has access to the funds and advice they need to close the gap between a dream and an opportunity.
Most people stayed until the very end. My friend and I ended up talking to one of their institutional supporters until the very, VERY end– the point when staff started boxing materials and the rental company picked up the tables and chairs. But there were so many stories, so many inspirations.
I’m so glad Viv knew what to say to me.
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