Supporting Start-Ups



With her mother-in-law, who also has an entrepreneurial spirit, Blanche started making and selling traditional Filipino food at cultural festivals, including Cedar Rapids’ AsianFest. When people started asking where they were located, Blanche knew they had a shot at turning it into a regular business. A $10,000 loan through MICRO helped Blanche open the Pinoy Café last September. There, she and her mother-in-law team up to serve popular Filipino dishes like lumpia, halo-halo, pancit bihon and bubble tea. With an interest rate of just 4%, the MICRO loan has helped Blanche get her business off the ground. It hasn’t been easy, but the Pinoy Café is seeing growth. “In January and February, with the bad weather keeping people away, I often wondered if I should just quit,” Blanche explains. But drawing inspiration from popular stories of entrepreneurship, Blanche stuck with it. This spring she even moved to a bigger stall at NewBo so she can expand the menu.

"I know a lot of people want to start businesses but can’t. It’s a privilege to be able to pursue this, and the loan helped so much with my startup expenses." -Blanche Vega, Pinoy Cafe