"Without your support I would have never got my loan approved. Great job! I wish you I have known about the SBDC a year earlier.”

Ismael Diagen

Saafara is a line of premium handpicked West African herbal teas. Saafara has five flavors of tea available in boxes of 15 pyramid sachets. Saafara's brand provides traditional and medicinal West African Herbal Teas. Twenty-five cents from each box sold helps build acceptable delivery rooms with clean beds plus linens as well as potable water facilities in poor African communities.

From 2007-09, Ismael Diagne, owner of Saafara, was selling his special tea in bulk to small African communities in America, but he decided to approach big chains of supermarkets such as Wholefoods and Rainbow. These supermarkets did not want to receive the tea in bulk but in nice packaging. Ismael did not count on the financial resources needed to package his product. He was trying to obtain a $25,000 loan for over a year but with no luck from both traditional and micro lenders. One of the micro lenders referred Ismael to the SBDC to improve his business plans and financial projections.

The SBDC reviewed his business plan and financial projections and realized that Ismael was only relying on Wholefoods to sell his product. Ismael needed to improve his marketing plan as well as his projections that were not sound. The SBDC referred Ismael to an SBDC food specialty consultant, who met with him several times to work on strategies to launch his product wholesale. English is Ismael’s second language so his writing skills were somewhat limited. The SBDC helped with editing the business plan with a new and improved marketing plan as well as worked on developing better financial projections. The SBDC also helped Ismael in practicing his presentation skills for the loan committee.

Ismael was able to secure a $25,000 loan to package his tea and now customers can find this tea in Wholefoods, Rainbow and other 15 stores in the Bay Area. Ismael sent an e-mail to the SBDC expressing his gratitude. "Without your support I would have never got my loan approved. Great job! I wish you I have known about the SBDC a year earlier.”

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Funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA or HSU Sponsored Programs Foundation.