HERON LAKE, Minn. — Each of Yolanda Barahona’s creations is more beautiful than the last, and all of them are edible. The Worthington resident has been turning out intricate cakes for years, but just recently opened the doors to a new home for her business, Nena’s Cakes, in Heron Lake.
Barahona received loan assistance from the Southwest Initiative Foundation’s (SWIF) Microenterprise Loan Program to finance upgrades to a former bar and grill, which will allow Barahona to expand.
Baking is a creative outlet for Barahona, who considers her work art. Nena’s Cakes sells cakes, cupcakes, cake pops and cookies. Her fondant-covered creations can top five layers and include whimsical touches like a unicorn mane entirely of frosting with a horn of caramel-colored fondant.
When Barahona and her husband, Carlos, purchased their Heron Lake building in October 2015, major renovations were needed to bring it up to code. After more than a year of cleaning and fixing, the couple discovered additional critical plumbing work but didn’t have the personal finances to cover it. A loan from SWIF through the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) Emerging Entrepreneur Loan Program (ELP) helped Yolanda and Carlos install a mop sink and meet plumbing codes. ELP supports the growth of businesses owned and operated by minorities, low-income persons, women, veterans and/or persons with disabilities.
“Yolanda’s persistence in pursuing this dream is incredible, rivaled only by her creativity with cakes,” said SWIF Program Officer Jackie Turner. “We’re happy to partner with the Emerging Entrepreneur Loan Program, making it possible to support Nena’s Cakes.”
Loan programs have been a key function of SWIF since its inception to support communities and businesses throughout southwest Minnesota. In 2001, microlending was added to existing programs as a tool to support small businesses and people looking for self-employment opportunities by providing market-rate loans.
Microloan clients receive free technical assistance from SWIF staff — who all have personal business experience — to improve their business management skills. Areas of support include business planning and reading financials, QuickBooks training, marketing assistance and other training opportunities for the life of the loan.
This microloan program receives funding assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture. For more information, contact SWIF at 800-594-9480, 320-587-4848 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Southwest Initiative Foundation
Southwest Initiative Foundation is an independent community foundation supported by individuals, families, businesses, and organizations who want to strengthen southwest Minnesota. Since its founding in 1986, SWIF has contributed more than $75 million through its grant and loan programs. Its business finance programs have helped start or expand more than 700 businesses, which have created or retained more than 8,600 jobs. SWIF has also established 26 community affiliates and more than 100 school, donor-advised and other funds, as well as 16 Early Childhood Initiative coalitions to support young children. SWIF has received 1,730 acres of farmland through our Keep It Growing℠ farmland giving program. In 2016, SWIF launched the Grow Our Own Initiative to align its work and ensure all southwest Minnesota kids have the best start to life. The Southwest Initiative Foundation is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To learn more, visit www.swifoundation.org.
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