Neil’s Nuttin’ But Nuts, owned by Neil Hughes, recently received loan assistance from the Southwest Initiative Foundation’s (SWIF) Microenterprise Loan Program for the start up of his nut roasting vending business within K‐Mart at the Willmar Kandi Mall. The business features premium almonds, pecans, cashews and proprietary coatings from the Nutty Bavarian Company, all fresh‐roasted at Hughes’ stand.
Hughes, 52, was a farmer until a massive stroke in 1993 caused left side paralysis. Today, he walks with a cane and walker, and is employed part‐time with West Central Industries of Willmar. A stroke survivor, Hughes was the 2009 Judd Jacobson Memorial Award recipient. Established in 1992, the award, administered by Courage Center, recognizes the pursuit or achievement in a business entrepreneurial endeavor by a person with a physical disability or sensory impairment.
“The Foundation is pleased to be able to assist Neil with his goals of self‐sufficiency and we are very impressed with his determination to succeed,” said SWIF Program Officer Kurt Thompson. “Hughes has been an inspiration to our program.”
Proceeds from the loan, together with a monetary award from the Jacobson Fund, was used to help purchase equipment for the start up of the vending business. SWIF’s Microenterprise Loan Program offers loans of up to $35,000 for starting or expanding for‐profit small businesses located within the 18 counties of southwest Minnesota. This program also now serves Wright, Carver and southern Stearns counties.
In addition to financing, SWIF provides free technical assistance to all clients who have received a loan through the Microenterprise Program for the life of the loan. SWIF staff and business consultants provide one‐to‐one business planning, accounting, marketing and other training opportunities that will help entrepreneurs succeed in their venture. SWIF’s Microenterprise Loan Program receives funding assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture.