Stories from the Community: Small Business Heroes Testify before Congress

Guest Contributor

This article was written by Natalie Schreffler, Investment Associate at Community Enterprise Development Services (CEDS) Finance. Over the past three years, CEDS Finance has been the recipient of funds from our Economic Development and Leadership Equity Community Grants Program focus areas. Photos provided by CSPAN. 

CEDS Finance clients and entrepreneurs Joslyn Hopkins and Brittney Reese founded the Aurora-based Fit & Nu, LLC in 2015. Fit & Nu is a habit-based fitness and nutrition company whose mission is to help busy women of color, a market segment that has been neglected by the mainstream, create healthy habits through personalized fitness and nutrition. Ms. Hopkins and Ms. Reese are CEDS Finance clients and have used the debt financing to expand into a new space three times larger to accommodate increased customer demand. Fit and Nu’s business has grown 40% in first year and has become a key community resource for women of color. This exemplifies what CEDS is attempting to uphold in the community – access to capital to marginalized communities and a commitment to fund businesses that uphold values of equity and inclusion.  

On May 8, 2019, Ms. Hopkins and Ms. Reese traveled to Washington, D.C. to testify before the U.S. House of Representative’s Committee on Small Business. Ms. Reese was one of several “Small Business Heroes” who spoke directly to the members of the Committee on Small Business to represent Aurora and Colorado, detail the value of her business through three clients’ stories, and outline specific policy recommendations based on her experience as a small business owner. CEDS was honored to be recognized by Ms. Reese in her testimony as beneficial community resource. 

 Joslyn Hopkins and Brittany Reese with Representative Jason Crow (CO 6th)

Representative Jason Crow (CO 6th) requested assistance from CEDS Finance to identify local small business owners that exemplify the success and impact of local entrepreneurs in his District, thus the non-profit, small business lender immediately recommended Fit & Nu. CEDS Finance was founded in 2009, and has invested more than $4 million into the local economy to help small business owners – who have limited to no access to capital – start or grow their businesses. CEDS Finance was honored by the U.S. Small Business Administration as the 2018 Community Lender of the Year. 

Testimony recording can be found here (Ms. Reese’s testimony begins at 2:21:58) 

  • Leadership & Equity
  • The Fund for Denver
  • Economic Opportunity