Client: María José Cortés, owner of Di Luna Candles
Client Location: Tucson, AZ
CDFI: Growth Partners Arizona
CDFI Service Area: AZ
Financing and technical assistance, with support from the Finance Justice Fund
Di Luna Candles specializes in hand-poured candles made of 100% soy wax, a natural resource that’s renewable, biodegradable, and non-toxic. Owner María José Cortés started her business by hosting candle-making events and selling her product at retail stores around Tucson.
When she decided to turn her hobby into a full-time operation in 2020, she needed funding to start up and eventually open a brick-and-mortar location.
After several unsuccessful attempts to secure funding from other financial service providers, she turned to Growth Partners Arizona (GPAz), a local community development financial institution (CDFI). María first participated in GPAz’s Kiva crowdfunding program as she was setting up her business. Later she turned to the CDFI again for financing to open her store.
In addition to financing, GPAz’s marketing team also provided business coaching to ensure María’s grand opening was a success. Di Luna Candles’ new location will allow María to make candles in-house and host classes at her store, thus reducing her overhead and allowing her to hire new team members.
María’s story represents how Growth Partners Arizona is leveraging alternative funding programs to help move local small business owners closer to more traditional funding opportunities. When María started her business, she had to leverage crowdfunding to secure capital, but after making on-time payments and building a trusting relationship with GPAz, she was able to secure additional funding without having to provide collateral.
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