How handbags, Tory Burch, and a microloan helped one female entrepreneur

Ever since Amy can remember, she has had a knack for crafts and gift making, often opting to make homemade gifts for her friends on birthdays and holidays. “It was not until Amy's best childhood friend passed away from breast cancer that she decided to turn her hobby of making handbags into an enterprise.  “It was a very important wake up call for me. I had a moment of clarity where I realized it was time to start living the life I had always wanted. You only get one chance,” said Amy.

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Amy at the Tory Burch and Friends Mentoring Event

Two years ago, Amy was experiencing a high demand for her handbags for the NYC Fall Gift Show. She had the raw materials for her handbags but did not have the working capital to pay factory expenses, as her business operation had been entirely funded from personal finances up to this point.”I was cutting it real close,” Amy remembers.

She approached two different banks but could not secure financing on account of her “shoebox of receipts” and her lacking business history/balance sheet. Luckily, Amy stumbled upon an article about the Tory Burch Foundation's partnership with Accion, about their mutual mission of empowering women entrepreneurs with access to capital and business mentoring programs.

Accion is a nonprofit microlending organization that provides small business owners with financial education and loans ranging from $500 to $50,000. Accion has helped many women entrepreneurs nationwide grow their business and improve their credit history.

Amy received a loan from Accion which allowed her to expand her business by paying factory production fees and allowing for a buffer for a tradeshow in Atlanta where she was able to tap into a new market. “My business would not be possible without Accion,” said Amy. “All of these fantastic things happened because of the loan secured by Accion. They helped to turn a constant stream of NO's into a YES,” recalls Amy, with a smile.

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Tory Burch listens to a question from a fellow entrepreneur.

Note: Women loan recipients are eligible for mentoring workshops and promotional opportunities with the Tory Burch Foundation.  Accion also offers funding for entrepreneurs through a partnership with Kiva and an online marketplace where clients can showcase and sell their products. To get more information about Accion or to apply for a loan, contact Elizabeth Bueno at [email protected] or apply online.

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