Dispatch from Brooklyn: After Loan Rejections, Zip Gives Chef a Second Chance

Chef Garrick


“Nobody believed in me. They told me I couldn’t do it,” said Garrick, owner of Mason Catering Services.


I met Garrick in late-March at one of his catering events in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn (aka Bed-Stuy, my neighborhood). Garrick, Jamaican-born and a U.S. resident for the last five years, has built up his business from nothing. In 2011, with only $150 in his pocket, Garrick started his Caribbean-American food catering business.

As he sought to grow his business, he had ten different loan applications rejected before receiving a $5,000 Kiva Zip loan in July 2013. Each rejection came with a decrease in his credit score. Fortunately, Garrick found his way to CAMBA, a Kiva Zip Trustee that provides services that connect people with the opportunities to enhance their quality of life. CAMBA is one of Brooklyn’s largest community-based organizations. CAMBA endorsed Garrick because of his “[commitment] to growing his business and [embodiment of] resilience and hard work, having overcome homelessness twice to bootstrap his business without any outside help.”

In the short time I spent with Garrick, I could easily understand why CAMBA endorsed him. Intelligent, enthusiastic, and entrepreneurial, Garrick is the ideal Kiva Zip borrower. He is paying back his loan on time and is hoping to apply for a larger Kiva Zip loan once he finishes repaying the first one. As Garrick puts it, “My business is a good business. It’s a full fledged business. My biggest problem now is money.” This is no surprise to hear, as access to capital is a top constraint to growth reported by U.S. small businesses. Since receiving his Kiva Zip loan, Garrick has been very successul. His part-time staff is now up to eight individuals, and he can be found working at baby showers, weddings, birthdays and church events.

How does Garrick feel about Kiva? “Kiva is a big part of my business. Where would I be today without Kiva?” Hearing that from such a wonderful person validates my work as a Kiva Fellow. It is these types of meetings that inspire me.

Let’s help inspire others by lending $5 to a New York area entrepreneur looking to grow their business, create jobs, and positively impact their local community.

Love from Brooklyn!


About the author

Zach Kahn

Proudly hailing from New York, Zach enjoys experiencing new cities and local coffee shops. His belief in the power of community-building, person-to-person connections, and technology to create economic growth and improve the quality of life has led him to become a Kiva Fellow. His studies at Northwestern in mathematical methods in the social sciences resulted in a consulting project for the Los Angeles Police Department, which taught him the importance of data in making effective decisions. After graduating, Zach moved to Cambridge, MA where he worked for three years as an analyst at the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) - a nonprofit dedicated to helping philanthropic funders assess their performance and improve their effectiveness. Post-CEP, Zach moved back to the bitter cold of Chicago and went to work for Groupon in merchant strategy and then in business intelligence for an online brokerage company. He has also spent a substantial amount of time in Argentina, beginning with a semester studying at la Universidad de Buenos Aires. He cannot wait to start his Kiva Fellowship!