Since the Kiva Pittsburgh initiative launched, over $2 million in interest-free Kiva micro-loans have supported businesses in the Pittsburgh region. These loans went to businesses that may not have otherwise had access to capital to launch or grow, many of which were new businesses and/or owned by individuals from disadvantaged groups (63% women & 62% minorities). Riverside Center for Innovation is proud to work with Kiva to bring dollars to the Pittsburgh economy and investment to these local businesses, and we look forward to the next million!
Click through the slides to discover the Kiva stories of six entrepreneurs whose first loans helped us to reach the $2 million mark and crowdfunded a second loan in the last month, kicking off our journey to the next million!
Davidson Painting is a minority-owned commercial and residential painting business servicing Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. “We’re on the clock from 5 in the morning until it’s done,” Davidson Painting founder Diego Davidson says.
In addition to painting, the business offers lawn care services. Diego started from the bottom and worked his way up. As a formerly incarcerated individual, Diego says others need to know they can accomplish what they set their minds to.
“A lot of guys get discouraged, but don’t be,” he says. “You can still do it. You can still better yourself.” Diego has been painting for nearly 20 years, first getting his start in the union. But feeling called for more, Diego decided to start his own business and was connected to RCI. “Being an Entrepreneur never even crossed my mind,” Diego says. “Once I joined the RCI programs, the rest was history. Everything I'm doing is because of them and that's the best thing ever. I love my whole RCI team.”
Not only did Diego complete RCI’s BizFIT program, he also utilizes the array of ongoing services RCI offers to build businesses up. RCI helped Diego get his PAUCP, OSHA 30, EPA, Section 3, and other certifications. He was also the first RCI entrepreneur to get a Kiva loan. “I would recommend RCI to anybody that wants to start a business, no matter what it is,” Diego says. “Matter of fact, it will change their life.”
The small, dedicated team, which includes Diego’s son, is intentionally focused on interior and exterior painting instead of general contracting. “You’ve got a lot of guys that say hey, I do it all,” Diego says. “Painting is all I want to be responsible for. I take pride in my work.”
Diego credits Davidson Painting’s growth to their ability to make connections that last. “I have a strong work ethic. I’ve got to keep going until I get on top,” Diego says. “I like what I do, and have a lot of repeat customers. For me personally, it’s that drive and setting that bar high for my son so he can follow in those footsteps.”
Davidson Painting’s first job was a building on Neff Street in Mount Washington. Diego’s team started with only priming, but became the go-to painter for full-service painting needs. They also painted 22nd Street Condos, a historical building turned luxury two-story condominiums in the South Side.
While his first few projects were a big undertaking for a small team, Diego says they never fell behind and successfully managed the projects from start to finish.
Diego says one of the driving forces that keeps his team dedicated to a job is the client's satisfaction.
“I pride myself on the job that I do,” Diego says. “Any job that I do, I do it like it’s personal. Every job is not a million-dollar house, but we treat it like the million-dollar house. I’ll be doing a house in Homewood the same way I do one in Mount Washington.”
Diego has plans to soon build a website and scale his business. For now, Davidson Painting puts a piece of their heart into every project the small but mighty team completes.
“I'm still growing, but I’m busy,” Diego says.
Explore RCI’s programs from our website homepage at https://www.riversidecenterforinnovation.com/.
Kiva PittsburghThe Kiva Stories of Six Pittsburgh Entrepreneurs
Kiva PittsburghKiva PGH Milestone: $2,000,000 crowdfunded for small businesses!