The Rocky Mountain MicroFinance Institute (RMMFI) creates the space for communities and people of all backgrounds to realize their unique potential through the power of entrepreneurship.
Potential is being lost. People are tired and losing faith in their ability to access the individual and collective benefits of the mainstream economy. For 13 years, RMMFI has been refining a solution to an economy that is not working for everyone. RMMFI is filling the gap in an entrepreneurial ecosystem favoring capital deployment over capacity building, low-touch technical assistance and outsourced referrals over holistic support, and launched businesses rather than business ideation and business growth. We believe in a more supportive model for our community because we're entrepreneurs and community members ourselves: our staff is 55% current or former small business owners, 70% women, and 50% people of color. Since 2008, RMMFI has supported the launch or expansion of 334 businesses in Denver, Aurora, and the San Luis Valley. 68% of these businesses are owned by women and 82% are owned by people of color; all begin their journey with RMMFI earning 80% AMI or less.
RMMFI is first and foremost a community inspired by and built upon RMMFI Entrepreneurs. The social and economic impact of our work is best told through the stories of a few of the entrepreneurs we serve:
Rochelle Johnson, Rochelle Johnson Studio
Rochelle Johnson always dreamed of being an artist, but had a hard time making ends meet on an artist's income. In 2014, Rochelle walked into a nonprofit seeking help to pay her electricity bill, and an employee suggested she reach out to RMMFI. That was the beginning of turning Rochelle's dream of making a sustainable living from artistry into a reality. Through the Business Launch Boot Camp, Rochelle secured a loan to promote her art, and soon had her first major show in Denver. Four years later, Rochelle has written her third business plan, paid off two RMMFI loans, and secured a third loan from RMMFI. Her aspirations grew into opening her own gallery and showcasing artists of color. In June 2018, her dreams came true: the Rochelle Johnson Studio opened in Denver as part of the RMMFI Retail Incubator Space, and her presence in the art scene continues to climb. Rochelle seeks to address issues of race and diversity not only through her art but also as the Secretary of the Denver County Cultural Council. Rochelle has demonstrated herself to be an artist, a businessperson, and a champion for artists of color. Most importantly, she is energetic, focused, and determined to make social change. She credits RMMFI with transforming her from a struggling artist into a successful businessperson - which, in turn, has allowed her to focus on broadening her horizon and impact.
Edgar Aguilar, Legacy Construction Cleaning
In 2008, Edgar Aguilar inherited his father-in-law's company, John & Son's Cleaning Service. While he tried his hardest to make the company successful, in 2014 Edgar realized he needed help to keep the business going. Edgar joined the Business Launch Boot Camp in early 2015. With advice from his mentors, Edgar built a new business plan - which included renaming the business Legacy Construction Cleaning. This business plan helped Legacy earn over $150,000 in revenue in 2016. In 2017, that number doubled. Now Legacy is edging closer and closer to becoming a million-dollar company with an expanding client list including national companies such as Forever 21, the Lego Store, Cycle Bar, and many more. Edgar still checks in with his RMMFI mentors regularly and is now a part of the RMMFI team as a business mentor himself, meeting one-on-one with other RMMFI entrepreneurs to give them advice and a listening ear. In April 2018, he was the keynote speaker at RMMFI's Business Launch Boot Camp class #23's graduation. RMMFI is proud of the successful business Edgar has built and honored that he has chosen to return to RMMFI to share his success and mentor new entrepreneurs.
Terrilynn Moore, Artist and Storyteller
In her mid 50s, Terrilynn Moore moved into her mother's house while dealing with bankruptcy, finishing her Bachelor's in Fine Arts, and serving as a caretaker for her mother who has Alzheimer's. While balancing her many responsibilities, she desired to make her art and storytelling into a career. Rochelle turned to the Business Launch Boot Camp for assistance and was able to gain the structure, accounting, and accountability necessary to run her own business. Without RMMFI, she says she would never have completed her financials, kept track of accounting, or even have a schedule. After graduation, Rochelle purchased new marketing with her loan from RMMFI, which has allowed her to gain more press and be featured in magazines throughout Colorado. To anyone who wants to start a new business, Rochelle says to apply to RMMFI because it is invaluable to have someone go over finances with you, demonstrate how to set up a business and ask the hard questions. Rochelle's business continues to grow, thanks to her new marketing, and she feels more confident than ever about managing her own business.