Covid-19 has led many people to rethink their careers. As a result, the number of new business applications in the U.S. is up 38% compared to the year before the pandemic. Unfortunately, only 25% of new businesses survive 15 years or more. In other words, most founders could benefit from some extra help.
This is where Samuel Adams’ philanthropic program Brewing the American Dream (BTAD) comes into play. Since 2008, it has provided more than 3,200 loans to local food and beverage entrepreneurs for a total of nearly $64 million across 39 states. Of these, 80% identify as BIPOC or female business owners. The companies supported by the program have created or retained more than 9,000 jobs in their local communities. In addition, BTAD has advised more than 12,000 people total. It conducts regular “pitch rooms” across the country, where local businesses have the opportunity to win grant money and attend speed business coaching sessions.
Jim Koch first brewed Samuel Adams in his kitchen in 1984, igniting the craft beer movement. He soon launched the Brewing the American Dream philanthropic program to give back to the community and help small business owners pursue their passions and achieve their dreams.
Jennifer Glanville, who was recognized by Fast Company as one of its “Most Creative People in Business,” oversees Brewing the American Dream, its affiliates and participating businesses. “It has been a pleasure to see so many businesses flourish,” she says. “Our entrepreneurs have been faced with tough challenges due to the Covid pandemic, but their resilience and can-do attitude has pushed them and helped their businesses succeed. Now more than ever, it is important for the program to offer its support.”
Here are six of the numerous entrepreneurs who have benefitted from the support of Brewing the American Dream.
1. Melissa Garcia Villanueva, CEO & Founder, Brewpoint Coffee
Brewpoint Coffee is a coffee shop that first started in Elmhurst, IL and has expanded to three additional locations in the seven years since. Recently, they also began producing Brewpoint Craft beer. “We live in a scary world,” says CEO and founder Melissa Garcia Villanueva. “There are a lot of things that feel entirely out of our control. But when you are an entrepreneur, you get one little corner of the world that you can shape. This is something really special.”
Villanueva feels that BTAD has been incredibly helpful to growing her business, from providing financial support, to mentorship and a community of other entrepreneurs. “Brewing the American Dream is the whole package for small business owners,” she says.
2. Pamela A. Jones, President & CEO, Charboy’s
Charboy’s branded sauces are sold in over 450 stores across the U.S., in Whole Foods and on Amazon. It is a women-, minority- and veteran-owned business founded in 2008 by Pamela A. Jones. During her 15 years of active duty military service, she felt inspired by the cuisines of Austria, Germany, London, Italy, and Panama. Later, she found her passion in developing a variety of all-natural products representing different cultures, all of which are lower in sodium and sugar than traditional sauces.
“As an entrepreneur, it takes hard work and strong determination to have your dreams come true. You must be self-driven,” Jones says. BTAD has provided her with “a significant amount of assistance and support” including coaching, mentoring, networking opportunities, and brand exposure in articles from major publications such as Entreprenuer.com, Black Enterprise Magazine, and Crain’s Chicago Business.
3. Heather Yunger, Founder & Owner, Top Shelf Cookies
Top Shelf Cookies offers a broad selection of unique cookies using high quality, often unexpected ingredients. “I never set out to be a baker, but I have always loved making and eating cookies,” says founder and owner Heather Yunger. “I had a crazy superstition that if I brought my Black & Gold cookies to the bar before every Boston Bruins home game, they would win. When the Bruins won the Stanley Cup at the end of the season and my cookies had been a huge hit, I decided maybe I should make a go of it.”
Yunger says that she got encouragement from Brewing the American Dream since Top Shelf Cookies was just an idea. One of the regulars at her favorite pregame bar was none other than BTAD Director Jennifer Glanville herself. Yunger has received four loans through the program’s financing partner, Accion. She also feels that the “real life business advice is gold.”
4. Isis Arrieta-Dennis, Founder & Owner, The Arepa Place
The Arepa Place operates a brick-and-mortar restaurant in Cincinnati, OH that specializes in a Colombian and Venezuelan dish known as arepas. Founder and Owner Isis Arrieta-Dennis is originally from Colombia. As an immigrant, she enjoys sharing her culture through food.
The funds Arrieta-Dennis received from Brewing the American Dream went towards purchasing an expensive skillet. In addition to the financial assistance provided, she says, BTAD has proven “a great source of both motivation and confidence right before opening my restaurant, and some really good publicity! Also, it connected me with local entrepreneurs and community members, which has been very helpful.”
5. Kate Russell, Co-Owner, Hopkinsville Brewing Company
Hopkinsville Brewing Company is a women- and veteran-owned and operated, locally sourced, and community oriented craft beer nano-brewery. In addition to brewing craft beer, it aims to provide its Hopkinsville and Christian County, Kentucky community with a destination, a space in which to relax and interact with friends. “It’s important for small, independent business owners to follow their dreams because that’s what keeps communities like Hopkinsville from succumbing to the sprawl of Super Walmart and Dollar General,” says co-owner Kate Russell.
In 2021, Hopkinsville Brewing Company was selected for the BTAD Experienceship Program. They were able to expand, speak with electricians, brewers, accountants, taproom managers, and human resources specialists at Samuel Adams, and get the guidance needed to build out and complete production equipment purchases. “In addition to all the business advice, it’s been amazing to see how many people have heard of us or have seen us in the media since we were announced as this year’s recipient,” says Russell.
6. Maya Madsen, Founder & Owner, Maya’s Cookies
Founded in 2015 by Maya Madsen, Maya’s Cookies is America’s top Black-owned vegan cookie company. As a vegan with a sweet tooth, Madsen spent years crafting her award-winning recipes. Raised as a foster child, she experienced a difficult childhood. But her hard work, perseverance, and natural-born competitive spirit have paid off.
In 2017, Maya’s Cookies received a $5,000 micro loan via BTAD, which they have since repaid. This assisted the small business in securing supplies, hiring staff and building out the company. To aspiring entrepreneurs, Madsen offers this advice. “Find people in your life that lift you up. Hire professionals around you in areas that are not in your area of expertise, but also that align to your sensibility. Good chemistry is so important.”