Prime Care Transportation
Originally from Rwanda, Christine Uwimbabazi came to WEDI in 2017 when she was launching her company Prime Care Transportation which provides clients with reliable rides to and from doctor’s appointments, dialysis treatment, and hospital visits.
She learned about WEDI through her friend Hope Rwigamba (a Relationship Manager at WEDI) who is also from Rwanda. At the time, Prime Care Transportation had only one vehicle, but Christine was eager to expand her fleet. She applied to WEDI’s microloan program to purchase the additional insurance among
other items. While she was expecting just the financial support, she was pleasantly surprised to learn that WEDI provides much more than funding. According to Christine, “It’s not just about the loan itself, but the help you get when you apply. By giving us the opportunity to connect with other organizations and mentors, WEDI bridges the gap for minority-, immigrant-, and women-owned businesses.” With WEDI’s help, she grew to have 24 cars and 18 employees (though the COVID-19 pandemic has forced her to scale back a bit from her peak).
Beyond helping Christine grow Prime Care Transportation, WEDI has become a family. “Anytime, I go back to WEDI, I have my backup,” she says. “I know they are there for me. They are like the grandma and grandpa I don’t have.” She also values the many ways WEDI supports immigrants and refugees, like helping them acclimate to their new hometown and participate—on both economic and civic terms—in their adopted communities. In fact, Christine is so happy with the support she has received from WEDI that she has become one of the best recruiters for new clients: “Whenever I meet a new entrepreneur, I always say why don’t you call WEDI?”
While the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated that Christine temporarily cut back her fleet of cars, it has in no way limited her plans for growth. With help from her WEDI Relationship Managers and mentors, Christine learned to ask herself the right questions to help set her future goals which include adding support staff; expanding services like healthcare, senior assistance, and eventually a daycare; and adding a second service region. As Christine shared, “You can have a business and you can have money, but if you don’t do the necessary steps—having the right paperwork, the right accountant, the right payroll system—you end up losing it. And that’s what WEDI has done—help people learn how to be successful.”
To learn more about Prime Care Transportation visit https://www.primecarefirst.com/.
USA Occupational Services
USA Occupational Services, a WEDI client since 2016, is one of the leading minority and woman-owned business enterprises (M/WBE) certified north east drug and alcohol testing providers, which supplies drug testing expertise to public and private sector owners. By offering around the clock on-site mobile emergency testing, they deliver fast, secure, and accurate drug testing while keeping both employees and employers safe. Unfortunately, the economic shut down caused by COVID-19 created obstacles in how it conducted business, causing it to limit office hours and staff capacity. With the funding
it received from The Neighborly Fund, the company was able to increase hours, and eventually bring back staff, helping to support the business in stabilizing its sales back to pre-pandemic levels. Pictured is owner, Laythanette Shine, as she gave her winning pitch in a competition WEDI co-hosted with Pursuit Lending and the KeyBank Business Boost and Build program in 2018.
To learn more about USA Occupational Services visit https://www.usaoccupationalservices.com
Fetch! Gourmet Dog Treats
WEDI client Fetch! Gourmet Dog Treats offers high quality and healthy dog treats at affordable prices. The product is a safe alternative to most mass-produced dog treats. Owner, Jackie Lovern, experienced many of the same difficulties other small businesses experienced in reaching customers due to the pandemic. With the funding her business received from The Neighborly Fund, she has worked hard on marketing efforts to increase sales. By working closely with WEDI’s partner, Launch NY, she was connected with a business mentor that specialized in
managing business growth effectively. With this help and additional help WEDI has provided, Ms. Lovern has been able to pay the business’ rent, utilities, and order more production supplies. Her biggest achievement is going nationwide with Fetch! Gourmet Dog Treats. You can find the product in 200 stores across the country, including online with Chewy and Amazon, and to her amazement, it all started from her kitchen!
To learn more about Fetch! Gourmet Dog Treats, visit https://fetchmeatreat.com
Divitta Alexander PLLC
Divitta Alexander PLLC was established in 2016 in Buffalo, and its focus is on affordable housing and small business matters. Its managing member, Divitta Alexander, has over 15 years experience practicing law in NYS, representing a wide range of clients. She started her own practice and became a small business owner to have more freedom and control over her time. Her biggest achievement is realizing that her purpose is to assist people with the provision of affordable housing and basic economic opportunities. She believes that entrepreneurship is naturally full of uncertainty, but COVID-19 skyrocketed that uncertainty. WEDI, which Ms. Alexander calls a community asset,
provided financial assistance to her practice during the economic downturn. It was awarded a grant through the Neighborly Fund, which has helped ease some of the uncertainty, and while it is a solo practice, Ms. Alexander hopes to be able to expand its workforce and hire and train more affordable housing legal professionals.
To learn more about Divitta Alexander, PLLC, visit https://divittalaw.com