Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon’s (MESO) mission is to improve the economic opportunities of underserved individuals through empowerment, education, and entrepreneurship for the benefit of the greater community. MESO provides capital, coaching, and comprehensive support to entrepreneurs in Washington, Clackamas, Multnomah and Columbia counties.
Address: Main office – 4008 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Portland, Oregon 97212
Multnomah County phone: 503-841-3351
Washington County phone: 503-521-7620
Who are your services for?
MESO’s Mission is to improve the economic opportunities of underserved individuals through empowerment, education, and entrepreneurship for the benefit of the greater community. In 2005, MESO was founded on a simple, yet remarkable notion – that individuals could change their own financial and social status through entrepreneurship, and continue to live and work in communities of their own choosing. In our 10th year, this vision continues to guide us and impact the neighborhoods we serve in Multnomah, Columbia, Clackamas, and Washington Counties.
What types of loans do you offer?
Term loans and lines of credit
What are typical loan terms?
For smaller loans ranging from $100 to $5,000, we have three products.
Credit builder, helps someone establish business related credit. $100 Up to $500. 0% interest, 6-month terms. 0%APR
MESO Express 1 ranging from $501-$2500. Flat rate of 7.75% APR. The term is 6-12 months.
MESO Express 2 ranging from $2,501-$5,000.
For our larger loans ranging from $5,001 to $250,000, we have two products.
MESO Business Builder 1 ranging from $5,001-$50,000 7.75% The term is up to four years.
MESO Business Builder 2 ranging from $50,001-$250,000. This loan is for Commercial Real Estate transactions and major equipment based purchases if needed. 7.75-7.999% APR.
What are some typical examples of business you may work with?
We work with a variety of businesses including food carts, bicycle shops, professional services, health and fitness, retail stores, and more. Some examples include the following:
Champions Barbershop: With the help of a loan from MESO, Jamaal was able to open a second location fully equipped. This enabled him to rent out chairs and break even from the very first month. Jamaal also received branding, free website construction, and low-cost legal services. The business has increased revenues by 500% and Jamaal is opening the very first Barbering College in Portland. Jamaal has spoken many times at MESO client meetings, sharing tips on organizing staff, marketing, and customer service. In this way, he serves as a beacon of hope – someone in the community who “made it” and gives back.
Discovery Gardens Childcare: Sheila started her business as a home daycare, while raising her 4 children as a single mother. She is now putting her first child into college and she herself has returned to college. She is now the owner of three thriving childcare centers located in distressed communities, while creating over 30 jobs. Sheila’s income has grown from $25,000 to $900,000. Sheila started her life as a runaway, and now mentors teens and the MESO community of up-and-coming businesses by teaching classes and speaking at meetings, providing encouragement and leading by example.
Sheila used MESO’s loan funds to purchase equipment, working capital, help her ensure building safety via updated electrical and make her space attractive and safe. Sheila received branding services, administrative/HR training, QuickBooks assistance and training, and connections to affordable legal support.
Soapbox Theory: Graphic designers don’t often open store fronts, but that’s exactly what Kayin wanted to do. When she came to MESO, her specialty was websites and logo designing. But through MESO’s support, Kayin published a children’s book. MESO helped her get up to speed with bookkeeping, organization, packaging, and provided loan funds to print, market and develop additional products based on the unique African-American characters in the book. Recently, Kayin came back to us for a second loan for a 3D printer to achieve her next innovation: making dolls of her children’s book characters. Sales from her business have increased about 1200% since her first visit with MESO.
How would a client a potential client access MESO’s services?
We have staff located in Beaverton, St. Helens, and Portland at Cully neighborhood, 42nd Avenue neighborhood, and NE MLK Jr Blvd. Staff, in addition to connecting existing businesses to capital, meet with pre-start-up and start-up businesses to trouble-shoot and support as they grow. Call at 503-841-3351 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find the location nearest you, or stop by our Portland office 4008 NE MLK Jr Blvd, Portland, Oregon – no appointment necessary.
What stage of business should come to MESO for a loan?
Businesses generally are in operation for 6 months or longer, however extensive industry experience can be substituted in some circumstances.
What are the top 3 things that you would like to tell small business owners that may come to MESO for a loan?
Businesses can come to us in any stage of business for technical assistance and advisory services. MESO provides business planning, support in developing projections and financials, marketing support, growth strategies, as well as determines resources, referrals, and internal programming to meet individual needs.
Please ask about our MarketLink program! MarketLink provides low-income entrepreneurs throughout Oregon access to the same customized market research tools and services that many large-scale companies enjoy. MarketLink customizes research results to the business owner, their needs and location. Focused on building the expertise of the business owner and their business’s standing in the community, MarketLink reports are an excellent way to expand a business plan, get an edge on competition, and be certain of the business strategy.
Individual Development Account (IDA) is a matched savings program whereby individuals save a set amount each month and upon completion of certain milestones and activities are matched with grant funds they can use to purchase key business assets. The match is 3:1; the maximum grant is $9000 (which is matched to personal savings for a total of $12,000). The funds are used by business owners to purchase assets vital to business success such as branding, inventory control systems, specialized training, and more.
What amount of money is available to loan?
As of January 2015, MESO has placed nearly $2M in loans, over $2.5M in IDA grants, and has supported over 2500 entrepreneurs with technical assistance. MESO is a CDFI, an IDA fiduciary, an SBA microlender, and is trusted to place capital from UFA/PFF, Oregon Growth Board, PDC, CDFI, and private funders among populations considered “high risk” by traditional lenders.
Our loans are broken into two categories $100-$5,000 and $5,001 – $250,000 for commercial real estate transactions and major equipment purchases.