Turning $50 Into a Small Business Owner’s Dream Come True

When Celeste Phillips wanted to start her own business, she turned to Bridgeway Capital, which provided her with funding and resources, thanks to support from Wells Fargo.
Dec 7, 2018 8:00 AM ET

Celeste Phillips believes that working for someone else forces you to put your own dreams on hold. But working for yourself, she said, allows you to fulfill your dreams. Read the full story and watch the video at Wells Fargo Stories.

That’s why she started Big LuLu’s Trucking LLC, a construction and hauling company in Pittsburgh.

Before starting her own business, Phillips said she knew people who owned dump trucks, so she learned the business from them. When Phillips needed funding, she turned to Bridgeway Capital, a Community Development Financial Institution, or CDFI, that provides capital and business education to develop low- to moderate-income communities, increase access to healthy foods, expand social services, and help small businesses grow.

In May 2016, Bridgeway Capital was one of 15 CDFIs that received $22.3 million in lending capital and grants as a part of Wells Fargo Works for Small Business®: Diverse Community Capital program. The program is awarding $50 million in lending capital and $25 million in grants to CDFIs over three years — helping the CDFIs provide diverse-owned small businesses access to capital, technical assistance, business planning, and other resources. Beginning this year and continuing through 2020, Wells Fargo has committed an additional $100 million in grants to CDFIs.

Phillips said she went to Bridgeway Capital with $50, and the CDFI loaned her $10,000, which she used to purchase her first truck. She earned that money back once the business got started, and since then, Bridgeway Capital has helped Big LuLu’s Trucking refinance its loan to buy more trucks, upgrade to newer equipment, and hire more employees. Today, the business has five trucks and employs six people.

“Being inside this truck is my dream, and we work hard to make it come true,” Phillips said.