Blog, News & Announcements

CAAAB Helps Local Entrepreneur Secure Interest-free Loan from Kiva Zip

Monday, April 1st, 2013

St. Louis, MO – An international micro lending program designed to assist start-up businesses is paying off for a St. Louis entrepreneur with the endorsement of the Center for the Acceleration of African-American Business (CAAAB).

Andrew Simpson, the owner of Andrew’s Bayou Ribs, a mobile barbecue operation, received a $5,000 loan from Kiva Zip, a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty by leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of micro-finance institutions. With the interest free loan, Simpson used the money to invest in a “commissary” – a kitchen area for food preparation and storage – a vital part of his business growth and expansion plans.

Simpson has two years to repay the loan, adding that he has been turned down for loans from traditional lenders.

Andrew's Bayou BBQ“It has already taken me to a new level,” Simpson said. “You must have a commissary to operate a ‘Grade A’ mobile food vehicle. Without the loan, this wouldn’t have happened.”

Additionally, the Kiva Zip loan helped Simpson be part of the restaurant complex that’s soon to open later in the year near Halls Ferry Road and I-270.

Kiva is an international organization which primarily focuses on entrepreneurs around the world, while “Kiva Zip” is the organization’s pilot project in the United States.

Simpson’s loan was endorsed by CAAAB, a non-profit organization that provides support for the growth and development of African-American owned businesses, and a Kiva Zip trustee organization.

Kiva Zip’s work is made possible through an extensive and growing network of trustees who are responsible for sourcing Kiva Zip borrowers, reviewing their business and personal finances, vouching for their character, and publicly endorsing them on the Kiva Zip website. Trustees never actually handle the loans; Kiva Zip disburses directly to the end borrowers.

A sampling of other projects funded in the U.S. by Kiva Zip include: a specialty fish restaurant in Bemidji Beltrami County, Minnesota; a coffee shop in San Francisco, CA; a fully furnished work space solutions company in Springfield, MO; and a bakery the specializes in goods but without the common allergens of gluten, nuts, egg and soy in Pullman Whitman County in Washington.

CAAAB originally worked with Simpson as a business consultant to assist him in developing his business plan. He was referred to CAAAB by another member prior to his joining about a year ago. CAAAB worked with Simpson in developing a proposal to acquire three downtown locations to sale his products, apply for a store location in the Ball Park Village Project under construction adjacent to Busch Stadium and apply for Minority Business Enterprise certification with the City of St. Louis.

Neelu Panth, Director of Research, Social and Economic Development for CAAAB, said Andrew is a hard worker and is dedicated to his business. Panth said the money will help establish a commissary needed to prepare and store the food he sells in order to comply with health regulations.

“He is a quick learner and completes each task associated with any project in an effective and timely manner,” Panth said. “We endorsed him for a Kiva loan to help him continue to grow and develop his business. I see no challenges in him repaying the loan since the money will be used to help him comply with an important City health regulation and serve to increase his revenue and profit.”

Andrew’s Bayou Ribs is a three-year old mobile barbecue currently operating in Lebanon, Illinois and in multiple locations in the St. Louis City, including Grand and Martin Luther King Drive, just outside Busch Stadium, 8th and Walnut and Market and Tucker. He intends to open other units in different metro east areas and metro St. Louis locations.

Simpson was raised in Bastrop, LA where he was introduced to “good southern style bar-b-cue as a way to enjoy country living,” he said. He recalled that as a youngster, he believed one day he would own a BBQ establishment. A 1976 graduate of Ritenour High School in St. Louis, he worked as a die cast machine operator in Rockford, IL. In 1981, he was involved in a work accident that left him disabled.

“Today with my childhood dream and my desire to persevere from life’s pitfalls, I am determined to succeed in my bar-b-cue business,” he said.

Simpson added that what makes his menu “awesome,” which includes pork ribs, chicken, beef and trimmings like potato salad, baked beans and cake, is the sauce that he cultivated from his Louisiana roots.

“The techniques and sauces used is a result of continuous efforts to acquire the secrets of a ‘Louisiana barbeque hut I visited for many years in my hometown of Bastrop, ‘ ” he said. “The owners revealed little things to me at a time, so I tried to match their bar-b-cue, developing a technique of my very own.

“Although the sauce is similar, I have developed my own way to arrive at its succulent finish,” he continued. “True barbecue lovers know the smell of ‘mojo’ and the way back taste of delicious bar-be-cue.”

For more information about CAAAB and Kiva, contact Neelu Panth at 314./533.2411, ext. 109 or visit

CAAAB is a Kiva Zip Trustee- First borrower gets $5000 interest free loan!

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

CAAAB business member received $5000 in interest free loan through the Kiva Zip program! CAAAB, a Kiva zip trustee, endorsed Andrew’s BBQ for a loan to purchase a commissary which the business was in desperate need for. After repeatedly unsuccessful attempts to access loan in the local market place, Kiva Zip helped Andrew get his loan in just two months and that too hassle free. CAAAB hopes to make Kiva Zip loans accessible to as many businesses as possible. View Andrew’s profile at Kiva Zip.

CAAAB business consulting for small and disadvantaged minority businesses: Model Evaluation

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

Specifically targeted to small and disadvantaged minority-owned businesses, the Small Business Capacity Building or consulting program provides them with specialized expertise and targeted consulting and training to hone and sustain their businesses.  The long- term goal of the program is to expand the market share of this business group and spur economic growth.

The Small Business Capacity Building Consulting model is based on the relationships and trust CAAAB has built with this business group over the years.  The model is also built on CAAAB’s frequent one-to-one interactions with business owners about the challenges they face, focus group meetings, and established best practices. CAAAB has developed partnerships with various local support service organizations and business consultants to implement this program.

To further validate the model, a group of graduate students specializing in social and economic developtment at the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri evaluated the model. Below is a pdf version of the report:

CAAAB Consulting Research Report

Franchise Fair! April 26th hosted by St. Louis Development Corporation (SLDC)

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Dear Friends,

Recently there has been recognition in the national media for St. Louis as a great place to do business.  Building on this exposure, SLDC is bringing the International Franchise Association based in Washington D. C., to our city on April 26th for a Franchise Fair.

We would greatly appreciate it if you would distribute the attached flyer to those in your business networks.  Also your attendance would be welcomed.  The franchise industry is a 2.1 trillion dollar revenue generator in America, and provides millions of jobs.  St. Louis intends to compete for our share of those dollars, and employment opportunities for our residents.

2012 Franchise Seminar for Minorities and Women.

When:                          Thursday, April 26, 2012

Time:                            8:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

Location:                      Harris Stowe State University Anheuser-Busch School of Business–5707 Wilson Ave. St. Louis Mo.

Who Should Attend:   Those interested in finding out more about funding and technical assistance related to franchise ownership.
Those seeking to provide services or products to franchise owners accounting, legal, office, insurance, etc.
Those interested in talking to national franchise owners about locating in their area.
Those looking for opportunities in the construction of franchise locations.

Registration Fee:       $25.00 includes continental breakfast, lunch and seminar materials (normally $150.00 value)

For More Information: Open the attached flyer. SLDC Franchise Fair (click here to view the flier)

If they have questions regarding the event contact Dorothy Jones, St. Louis Development Corporation 622-3400 ext. 305

Thank you very much,

Howard Hayes
622-3400 ext. 308

Howard Hayes
Director Minority Business Development
St. Louis Development Corporation
1015 Locust Street
Suite 1200
St. Louis, Mo 63101
314-622-3400       ext. 308 (office)
314-231-2341 (fax)

CAAAB’s Small Business Capacity Building Program in the News!

Friday, March 9th, 2012

Specifically targeted to small and disadvantaged minority-owned businesses, CAAAB’s Small Business Capacity Building program provides them with specialized expertise and targeted consulting and training to hone and sustain their businesses.  The long- term goal of the program is to expand the market share of this business group and spur economic growth.

The St. Louis American, in their March 1 publication covered the launch of the Capacity Building program. The article describes the program and its impact on small disadvantaged minority businesses.  As a result of this article, CAAAB has been receiving numerous calls and visits from businesses that are interested in this program. The program is designed to serve about 20 small minority companies per year; CAAAB currently has a list of 40 businesses that have shown interest in participating in this program. This clearly attests the need of such programs among this business group.

Please click on the link below to read the entire article:

CAAAB update to community partners

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Dear Community Partners:

I hope you all are having a great start of the New Year. I wanted to provide you with CAAAB’ s update for this year. As you all may know, we hosted a breakfast on January 20 to introduce our Small Business Capacity Building program to prospective funders and other community partners.

Specifically targeted to small and disadvantaged minority-owned businesses, the Small Business Capacity Building program provides them with specialized expertise and targeted consulting and training to hone and sustain their businesses.  The long- term goal of the program is to expand the market share of this business group and spur economic growth.

The breakfast was sponsored by Bank of America and the Incarnate Word Program. It was a successful event with near full attendance. We have been receiving very positive feedback from the attendees. Some have invited us to sit down personally with them and discuss the next steps and how they can support. Our goal is to reach out to all prospective funders by end of February and begin raising the funds to start the program.  The press release of the January 20 breakfast is scheduled to be out very soon.

The recruiting process for the Small business Capacity building program has begun. We have sent out letters to prospective businesses requesting them for information on their business operations. This information will help us determine their eligibility and interest.

Other Updates:

Partnership with Justine Petersen:

  • Conversations have begun with JP to contract with CAAAB to provide their borrowers business technical assistance through our Capacity Building program.
  • JP and CAAAB are continuing their partnership in raising funds to increase JP’s lending capacity while CAAAB provides the business capacity building component to minimize defaults.

Parents as Entrepreneurs Program (Micro Loan):

CAAAB is about to complete one year of the Parents as Entrepreneurs Program. The program was operated in three phases: Phase 1 included eight weeks of entrepreneurship and business start-up growth training. A total of five participants participated in this phase. In Phase 2 participants received one-on-one consulting to develop a formal business plan and plan its execution. Only two participants have completed this phase. As part of Phase 3, we started a small micro loan program with the support of the Incarnate Word Foundation to financially assist our participants to expedite the implementation process of their business plan.

We have one loan recipient so far. The borrower used that loan to purchase a truck that is now being used to operate their barbecue business more efficiently. The borrowers, with the help of rigorous technical assistance/consulting from CAAAB, have been paying their loan timely. Recently, the borrowers received additional loan from Justine Petersen, with recommendation from CAAAB, to upgrade that truck and purchase cooking equipments to enhance their business. CAAAB has also been providing the borrowers in-house computer training to develop technological skills to enhance their communication skills with prospective customers, vendors, banks, and to help them with efficient and accurate bookkeeping.

Technical Assistance in Alton, Illinois:

CAAAB has been working with the Godfrey Human Development Resource Center (GHDRC), Black Business Development Association (BBDA), and ATCOM, a business incubator to develop a CAAAB like model in Alton, Illinois for social and economic development purposes. CAAAB’s role will be to provide these organizations with Technical Assistance/Consultations to develop and implement the model.

As a team, we have been meeting with various players in Alton including political leaders. The group has received very positive feedbacks so far from the community. Currently, we are in the process of raising funds to conduct a feasibility study to understand the entrepreneurship interests and skill sets among our target population, business types, business needs, etc to effectively plan the implementation process. Senator William R. Haine has approved the model and the feasibility study and has now directed the group to the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunities for fund opportunities.

Practicum and Internship Opportunities at CAAAB:

CAAAB is now officially a practicum/internship site for the Social Work students specializing in social and economic development/community development from all of the area educational institutions. The participating institutions are WashU, SLU, UMSTL, and Fontbonne University. Starting last week, we have an intern from the Brown School of Social Work, WashU doing her practicum with us. Her name is Emma and she will be with us until the end of summer. She will be primarily focusing on growing our Parents as Entrepreneurs program and the Micro Loan program associated with it. She will also be assisting with our technical assistance work in Alton, Illinois.

We are very excited about the progress we are making at CAAAB and look forward to a successful year.

Please call me at 314-369-8667 or email if you have any questions or suggestions regarding the above updates.

I look forward to meeting you all soon.

Yours sincerely,

Neelu Panth

Director, Research and Social and Economic Development


CAAAB awarded grant to expand in-house technology assistance

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Most of the micro businesses CAAAB services are either not technologically savvy or don’t have access to technology devices. Some of them have never used a computer. These gaps make it extremely challenging for CAAAB to efficiently and effectively help these businesses put in place business practices and processes.

Seeing this as a huge need for its clients, CAAAB applied for the Gateway to Opportunities Micro Investment Grant which it won! This grant will allow CAAAB to purchase computers to be placed at its training site so that businesses had easy access to computers, and for CAAAB to provide in-house technology training to its clients.

This grant was part of the St. Louis Microfinance Week sponsored by the Citi Group and the Incarnate Word Foundation. The award was voted and announced at the St. Louis Micro Finance Conference held on October 13, 2011. Sponsors, participants, and conference attendees voted for displayed organizations using text messages.

CAAAB was among three out of 20 participating organizations to win this award.

CAAAB receiving an award!

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Recently, the 100 Black Men of Metropolitan St. Louis announced that they have chosen CAAAB to be the recipient of their 2011 Excellence in Social and Economic Development Award. The award will be presented to CAAAB at their Black Tie Gala on October 29th.

Parents as Entrepreneurs participants start a business

Monday, October 17th, 2011

September 23, 2011 marked the official inauguration of Betty Macc Barbecue at the corner of Cass and North Grand. Betty and Macc are participants of CAAAB’s Parents as Entrepreneurs Program. They are currently in Phase 3 (business start-up) of the program. St. Louis American reported the event. Please click on the link Betty Macc Story to see the news article.

Betty Macc Story

CAAAB’s Micro Loan Program

Monday, October 17th, 2011

CAAAB has recently been engaged by the Incarnate Word Foundation to start and manage their micro loan program for place-based micro businesses. Initially, the loans are dispersed to the Parents as Entrepreneurs program participants only however, plans are already on the way for advancing the loan pool to serve other small and disadvantaged minority businesses as well. The first recipient of this loan is an African American couple who operate a temporary barbeque stall at the corner of Cass and North Grand.

The couple received a $5000 loan at a minimal interest rate for over a two-year period to implement the first phase of their Barbeque Joint business plan, which included operating a mobile barbeque joint. With this loan they bought a truck, upgraded it, and installed the necessary compliances that met the City and Department of Health requirements. They officially inaugurated the business on September 23, 2011.

The Incarnate Foundation has further invested in CAAAB with additional $10,000 to use as micro loan for small community based businesses. The prospective candidate for this loan is Lavish, a braiding business. The owner of Lavish is also a Parents as Entrepreneur program participant. She is in Phase 2 of the program where she is being coached to develop a formal business plan.

The business plan is in the last stages of completion. It   includes operating a braiding shop along with a job training and placement program for teenage girls. The business plan so includes operating the Juice Box Corner Store franchise to promote healthy living in the community.