Kenny Smith is a smart and ambitious young man who was headed in the wrong direction when he landed in prison for a drug conviction.
Then Accion Texas and Goodwill Industries of San Antonio helped him turn things around.
“I don’t know where I’d be without them,” Kenny says as he shares his story. “I am blessed.”
With guidance and financial assistance from Goodwill and Accion after he was paroled, he was able to pursue his dream of becoming a barber and opening his own business: Tapers, Blends and Fades Barbershop on the city’s Southside. Now Kenny has a career he loves, the ability to provide for his family –and the pride of accomplishment.
The Accion Texas-Goodwill partnership began in 2008 when Goodwill created an Accion revolving loan program for parolees who graduated from Goodwill’s Job Readiness Training (JRT) program. The program teaches financial literacy, how to prepare for job interviews, how to dress for success and other skills for transitioning back into the workforce.
Loans range from $500 to $5,000 at a fixed 10 percent interest rate and can be used for start-ups or existing businesses.
“Our partnership enables us to bridge the workforce divide for those with barriers to employment,” says Bob Dugas, CEO of Goodwill Industries of San Antonio. “Working with Accion Texas, we have been able to help many men and women rebuild their lives and create financial stability for themselves and their families.”
Accion Texas Loan Officer Alma Valdez works with Goodwill management to identify potential borrowers who are serious about starting their own businesses.
“When I met Kenny, I knew we had found someone special with a true desire to change his life for the better,” Valdez says.
Goodwill paid for Kenny to attend barber school and after earning his certification, Accion Texas was able to qualify him for a $5,000 loan, which he used to purchase equipment, lease a 400-square-foot location and hire an employee. In 2011, he was working to pay off his loan and readying to secure a second Accion loan to expand his business to a 1,000-square-foot facility with six barber stations and a second employee.
“I really appreciate what Goodwill did to help me. And I enjoy working with Alma at Accion. She and Janie Barrera gave me confidence and made me believe I could succeed.”