Empowering Underserved Entrepreneurs in Houston and Beyond.
C. T. Bauer College of Business, University of Houston: Microfinance Program

We are a micro-organization helping
micro-entrepreneurs in a macro way!

The Microfinance Program at the C. T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston would like to thank you for your support in helping us reach aspiring, underserved entrepreneurs in our local community. Here is a brief recap of what we accomplished in the Fall 2014 semester, what is upcoming this spring, and how you can get involved. We look forward to making 2015 even better with your support!


Mayor Annise Parker and the City of Houston
Proclaim Dec. 6, 2014 Microfinance Day

Microfinance Day Proclamation

The Bauer College Microfinance Program was honored by Mayor Annise Parker with an Official Proclamation of December 6, 2014 as Microfinance Day. The Honorable Stephen Costello, Houston Council At-Large Position 1, presented the Proclamation on behalf of the City of Houston to Dr. Saleha Khumawala during the Fall 2014 graduation ceremony. Councilman Costello inspired the graduating entrepreneurs with an encouraging and supportive talk, demonstrating the true commitment of city leadership to their success. The Microfinance Program is deeply appreciative for the support and recognition we have received from Mayor Annise Parker and the city of Houston.

Rep. Gene Green recognizes Microfinance Program

Rep. Gene Green recognizes the Bauer College of Business Microfinance Program

The Bauer Microfinance Program was honored by Rep. Gene Green (D-TX 29th District) with a Congressional Certificate of Recognition at the during the Fall 2014 graduation ceremony. Rep. Green greeted the entrepreneurs, many of whom are his constituents, and encouraged their efforts to begin solid and successful businesses. Rep. Green has been a strong supporter of the Microfinance Program since its inception. The Microfinance Program is deeply appreciative for his continued support and recognition.


Microfinance Program held graduation, Dec. 6

Bauer College Microfinance Program Graduation

The Fall 2014 Microfinance Program continued our successful model of pairing undergraduate and graduate students with budding entrepreneurs. This semester, the program trained 32 new entrepreneurs at the Neighborhood Centers, Inc. Ripley House facility in Houston's East End. After completing a four week financial literacy course presented by Skills 4 Living and tutored by Bauer students, participants completed six weeks of entrepreneurship education and management skills training taught and mentored by the Bauer students. We Educate, Engage, Enhance and Empower!!

Click here to see photos from this event

The culmination of the program was the Graduation and Pitch Day Event, which took place on December 6, 2014. Richard Scamell, associate dean of Bauer Student Affairs, welcomed graduates and guests to kick-off the event. Dr. Kaye Newberry, Bauer Department of Accounting chair and Dr. Michael Newman, director of Bauer Accounting Programs joined our event to cheer on the entrepreneurs.

Capital One Bank generously awarded laptops to those participants who fulfilled all of the requirements of the Microfinance Program.

The entrepreneurs were inspired and supported by several speakers at the event. We were pleased to welcome Frances Castaneda Dyess, President of Houston East End Chamber of Commerce W. Carl Glaw, Founder/Managing partner and Outstanding Bauer Alumnus, Marvett Howard, Capital One Bank and Aamir Shah, Wells Fargo.

Current and past participants gave moving testimonials of the impact the Microfinance Program has had on them and their business.

Lunch for the event was catered by Sophisticated Delights, owned and operated by Bauer College of Business Microfinance student D'Ambria Jacobs and dessert was catered by Sweet E's – our entrepreneurs Erica and Elois Campos who finished our program. We thank the generosity of Capital One for sponsoring the Graduation and Pitch Day event.

After graduation, fifteen of our entrepreneurs pitched their businesses to a distinguished panel of judges who provided feedback on the entrepreneurs business plans. We want to thank our judges for their participation on this important day.

  • Richard Gianni, Accion, Regional VP, East Texas
  • Liz Vallette, USO, Center Director
  • Ray Gonzalez, Deloitte, Director Enterprise Risk Services Governance, Risk and Regulatory Strategies
  • Barry Teare, University of Houston, Director Oil & Gas Accounting Program
  • George Worthington, Worthington Associates Worldwide, President
  • Kelli Lewis, Staff Auditor, BDO

The Microfinance Program is deeply appreciative to our program participants and partners who helped make our event a success.

Bauer Microfinance Program in the Local Media

The Microfinance Program congratulates graduate Heather Davis, owner of Sweet Luxuries Boutique Bakery, who was featured in the Bauer Business Focus segment on Houston Public Media, October 17, 2014. In her interview, she highlights the support that she received from the Microfinance Program.

The Microfinance Program was also featured on the University of Houston's homepage, where we shared the story of Alex Colby, owner of Houston Panini & Provisions. Alex's story was also featured on the NPR's UH moment which aired on November 11, 2014.

The Microfinance Program was featured in the Houston Business Journal in the December 5, 2014 issue.


Chef Rae | The Savory Experience

Chef Rae left a career in the IT industry to follow her passion for cooking. A caterer since her teens, she formalized her culinary training receiving a Bachelor's in Culinary Management from The Art Institutes in 2012. However, like most entrepreneurs, turning her passion into a successful business presented a challenge. She enrolled in the UH Microfinance program classes that were hosted at the Neighborhood Center, Inc. Independence Heights campus. That program taught Rae basic business skills and partnered her with Bauer College of Business students from the University of Houston. Ultimately, Rae developed a detailed business plan. She was selected to present her business to community microfinance lenders where she was named as one of six semi-finalists. After completing her interviews with the lenders, Rae was one of the entrepreneurs that received vital microfinance support.

Rae firmly believes that experiencing food engages all five senses. Her business targets catering intimate dinner parties so that her clients enjoy her food on all levels. She partners with sommeliers, musicians and professional wait staff to complete the experience. Her business is growing with both returning and new clients.

Rae credits the UH Microfinance program classes for providing her with objective, professional feedback on her ideas. This included changing her business name, (from Divalicious Dish to The Savory Experience) which has proven to be a very successful improvement. The classes introduced Rae to all areas of business allowing her to build a strong business foundation for her dream business. She is continuing to receive training through the Incubator program presented by the UH Microfinance Initiative, a graduate student organization. In the Incubator, she is receiving more detailed business advice and mentoring. She was also selected to participate in the Incubator's innovative marketing program. She was paired with marketing students in the MBA program at Bauer who created a detailed market research and a marketing plan for her business. This type of service would have been cost prohibitive for Rae in the private sector. Between the Microfinance program classes and the Incubator, Rae feels she has all of the tools and support that she needs to create a very successful business.


D'Ambria Jacobs | Sophisticated Delights

D'Ambria Jacobs was referred to the Microfinance course by one of her professors at UH. In addition to pursuing her Bachelor's Degree in Finance, D'Ambira was working to turn her luxurious desert business from a hobby into a business. She enrolled in the Microfinance course as a student during the Spring 2014 semester and worked alongside the entrepreneurs to develop her own personal business plan. She was starting in the same place as many of the entrepreneurs - a concept and a dream. Through the microfinance program classes, she learned hands-on business practices such as what licenses she needed to obtain and where to apply for them. She refined her business plan and pitched it to microfinance lenders in December 2014.

D'Ambria's vision is to recreate nostalgic luxury in her desserts. She features liquor infused desserts which have truly unique flavor profiles featuring local goods. By targeting young professionals, she is focusing on providing her delights to individual clients as well as catering larger events. She works closely with her clients to customize her treats to their taste palette. Since completing the Microfinance program classes, she has quadrupled her revenues.

D'Ambria experienced the UH Microfinance program as both a student and an entrepreneur. As a student, she found the class was a unique experience. The class provided real world applications of the business principles she was learning as a finance student. As an entrepreneur, she received guidance on how to take her dream and turn it into a viable business. The Microfinance program class also provided her with a support network of other beginning entrepreneurs. As she says, "We became a family." D'Ambria finished her Finance degree in December 2014. She is planning on continuing her business training with the Incubator program presented by the UH Microfinance Initiative. With this support and training, D'Ambria is well on her way to making her dreams a successful reality.


Enrique Arana | Link Transport USA

Enrique and his brother, Jose Arana, had a vision for brokering transportation between manufacturers and independent carriers. They had identified a need in the industry and brought industry experience to their vision. However, their plans were very sketchy with no business plan, financials or strategy. In September 2014, Enrique joined the UH Microfinance Program classes at the Neighborhood Center, Inc. Ripley House campus. During the classes, Enrique was exposed to all components of successful business ventures. He was most impacted by the legal and accounting aspects, which he realized that he and Jose had not considered fully. Enrique was partnered with a UH Bauer MBA student, Brian Lopera, who had an extensive experience in commercial lending. Enrique was mentored through the development of a strong business plan and pitch presentation. At Graduation, Enrique presented his business to our judging panel. In January, Enrique secured funding from Accion Texas (now Lift Fund www.liftfund.com) allowing Enrique and Jose to launch their business.

In the short time that Enrique and Jose have been open, they have already booked revenues from matching up manufacturers and carriers. They are on track to continue to grow throughout 2015 by focusing on excellent service and competitive prices for their clients. By partnering with both manufacturers and carriers, the dream of providing a critical logistics function is now becoming a reality. Using the techniques he learned in the UH Microfinance program, Enrique is now confident in the administrative and accounting tasks necessary for good business practices.

Enrique found that the UH Microfinance Program classes were a comprehensive overview of how to run a business. He was particularly impacted by the legal and accounting sections which he says "opened his eyes". He found that the knowledge shared by the lectures and interactions with the UH Bauer student as the most important part of the program. He was also impressed by the connections that were made. Through his pitch, he created a contact with Accion Texas (now Lift Fund) which allowed him to secure critical financing. Obtaining that financing was streamlined because he approached the Microfinance fund with a solid business plan. Enrique also connected with other entrepreneurs in the program and they are continuing to support and motivate each other after the classes concluded. Through the UH Microfinance program, Enrique and Jose Arana have a solid foundation on which to see their business grow and their dreams realized.

Microfinance Initiative Incubator

Microfinance Initiative, a graduate student organization, with the assistance of the Bauer Microfinance Program, successfully completed its Fall 2014 Incubator Program Session. The highlight of the Fall 2014 session was a collaboration with Dr. Partha Krishnamurthy, Bauer College of Business, in which his MBA Marketing students were challenged to create marketing plans for ten participating entrepreneurs. Two marketing teams were assigned to each entrepreneur, who provided each team with their business plans and current marketing strategy. Each team presented their plans in a friendly competition to the entrepreneurs at an Incubator event in Fall 2014.

The Incubator Program of the Microfinance Initiative is designed to support Microfinance Program graduates grow their businesses. Services include marketing plan development, business plan diagnosis, business consultation, and assistance with tax preparation. Businesses interested in participating in the incubator should contact admin@mfi.org.

Upcoming Events

A new group of aspiring entrepreneurs (program participants) will begin the Bauer Microfinance Program at the Bauer College of Business, University of Houston on February 14, 2015. Participants will receive financial literacy education and business entrepreneurship education and management skills training. Bauer College of Business students mentor, advise, and provide one-on-one consultation tailored to the participants' individual businesses. Upon completion of program requirements, graduates will participate in a Graduation ceremony and Pitch Day.

Get Involved with the Microfinance Program

Bauer Students

Bauer students interested in becoming involved are encouraged to take the Principles of Microfinance course. Students may also join the Microfinance Initiative student organization, and volunteer as a mentor to program participants. Please contact the Microfinance Program at mfassistant@bauer.uh.edu for more details.

Community Members and UH Alumni

Supporters of the program are invited to attend Microfinance Program events, be guest speakers in their areas of expertise during the program, or be an advisor in the MFi incubator program. Please contact the Incubator Program at admin@uhmfi.org for more details.

Program Sponsors

A continuing thank you to all of our program partners. The Bauer Microfinance Program would not be possible without your support:


Saleha B. Khumawala Ph.D., CPA CGMA
Robert Grinaker Professor of Accounting
Founding Director of the Microfinance Program
Email: saleha@uh.edu

Assistant to the Microfinance Program
Email: MFassistant@bauer.uh.edu

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