There is a famous Haitian proverb “Bondye fe san di”. This translates to, God acts and does not speak.
When you meet Nathalie Lecorps and hear the story of how she founded the first food truck in Boston serving Haitian food, you realize that she embodies that saying day in and day out.
The launch of the food truck is a labor of years of love in the making. Growing up as a kid of restaurateurs in Miami, Lecorps realized at a young age that she wanted to follow in her family’s footsteps – feeding people delicious foods that fill their souls and stomachs.
Lecorps started a restaurant business and purchased a non-functioning food truck in Miami, where she began her relationship with Chase for Business. After several personal and professional challenges, the mother of two boys realized that she wanted more for herself, her family and her business.
The food entrepreneur moved to Massachusetts to continue her business with encouragement from her cousin, Karyn Glemaud, who Lecorps said is “a beast for getting things done with precision.” Although cousins, Lecorps and Glemaud only met at college where they were randomly matched as roommates. It wasn’t long before the two realized they shared more than a dorm. Later, the couple would add another layer to their close relationship – business partners. Bondye fe san di.
For a few years, Lecorps ran programs in Woburn-based community organizations aimed at teaching people about Haitian Creole cuisine and culture. However, the memory of his family’s restaurant forced Lecorps to devote himself to his food truck business and launch Gourmet Kreyol, a tribute to his family’s restaurant of the same name in Miami. After talking with friends and getting a track on a food truck for sale, she made the purchase just as the company was shutting down due to the COVID pandemic. Bondye fe san di.
Face new challenges
According to Lecorps and Glemaud, they are slowly starting to understand their process, the menu and how to operationalize and grow. Their food truck launch on April 3, 2021 marked an important day for the cousins who managed to get this business off the ground thanks to the emotional and financial support of each other, their families and friends.
According to the US Department of Labor, women entrepreneurs make up one-third of business owners, and that number is growing steadily.
However, when it comes to financing their businesses, women fall far behind. Women get a much lower share of business loans and more than half of women entrepreneurs self-finance their start-ups. A reality that Lecorps and Glemaud know too well.
As the number of women entrepreneurs nationwide has grown, awareness of the funding gaps that many women face, especially women of color, has increased. Today, a growing number of scholarships and loans are aimed only at women. Here’s a look at some of the more popular options.
Small business loans
The Pros: Business loans generally have reasonable interest rates and are relatively easy to obtain, and fixed interest rate loans offer stable and predictable payments. Some of the more popular small business loans are those guaranteed by the US Small Business Administration (SBA). There are several types of SBA loans, including general or 7 (a) loans, CDC / 504 loans, which are mainly used for durable goods or construction, and smaller microloans. You can find out more about each type of loan at sba.gov. Discuss the requirements with your lender.
Cons: Depending on the type of loan you get, your lender may require you to keep your business debt ratio at a certain level, or you may not be able to get additional financing. Credit scores are also important because they can affect the interest rate on your business loan.
The advantages: Grants do not need to be repaid. They have become increasingly easier to find, and many are offered specifically for women. If you’re looking for a grant, start with the federally sponsored grants database, Grants.gov. You can also find grants to support women-owned businesses on the Small Business Nonprofit Score.org website.
Cons: Free money looks good on just about everyone, and it creates a lot of competition! The grant application process can take a long time and the approval process can be lengthy.
Community development financial institutions
Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), which, according to the Opportunity Finance Network, are private financial institutions that provide fair and transparent financing and financial education to people and communities underserved by traditional financial institutions are another track to explore.
Groups like Ascendus provide access to capital and financial education for entrepreneurs, usually people of color and women, to create more opportunities to grow their businesses and strengthen their communities. A list of Massachusetts-based CDFIs is available at ofn.org.
Unless you have a lot of savings, you will likely need to take out a loan or line of credit against your personal assets, such as the equity in your home, or accumulate personal debt in the form of a personal loan. or a credit card.
While many business owners need some sort of seed capital, it may also be possible to grow your business organically, by reinvest the profits in the business.
The advantages: You retain full control of your business and do not have to respond to outside investors.
The downsides: A successful start requires steady growth, and not having a large amount of cash on hand can limit how quickly you can reach your goals. If your business doesn’t turn out as quickly as you hoped, you could end up with significant interest on your personal debt.
The road ahead
Gourmet Kreyol is growing every week and the founders are now looking for investments to take their business to the next level. There is no doubt that they will achieve all of their goals and more. After all, bondye fe san di.
Gourmet Kreyol serves customers Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 137 Green Street in Jamaica Plain and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 775 Harrison Avenue at Boston Medical Center. Visit www.gourmetkreyol.com or follow them on Instagram @GourmetKreyol for updates and news.