For Mika Clark (pictured at right), owning a small business has allowed her to achieve greater independence while fulfilling her lifelong passion of improving her community’s well-being. Mika is the founder of Treasure Family Services, a behavioral health and social services agency that provides resources and support to low-income families in greater Atlanta, Georgia.
Growing up in urban Atlanta with modest means, Mika always found herself wanting to support others through economic and social hardships. Now, her business provides behavioral and mental health support for vulnerable people, family skills building, and corporate coaching.
Mika began her career in administrative positions at a social work agency. After eight years, with encouragement from her colleagues and her supervisor, Mika set out on her entrepreneurial journey.
Within the year, Mika secured her first government contract from Georgia’s Division of Children and Family Services. Four years later, Mika is now consulting other social services agencies while working to enhance the broader the social services industry. “I get the best of both worlds,” Mika said. “I enjoy serving clients and teaching people to do what I do: To spread their wings.”
Mika started her business with only one paycheck, and in the early days, accessing the capital she needed to get off the ground was a major obstacle. “The biggest challenge has been funding,” she said. “Nobody wanted to fund me. Accessing credit has been a barrier. Institutions were not willing to assist me, and I’d get predatory lending offers.” The pandemic created additional challenges for her business, as social distancing requirements forced her to shift to virtual services and upended her operations.
To stabilize and grow her business, Mika applied to receive a Southern Opportunity And Resilience Fund (SOAR) loan, administered by Accion Opportunity Fund (AOF) and other community-based lenders. SOAR provided affordable capital and free business support services to small businesses across the South and Southeast that experienced hardships due to the global pandemic.
“I wasn’t expecting to receive the funds, but I was so excited when I did,” she said. “It’s definitely helping me to scale.” The support Mika received through SOAR and AOF has helped her better manage payroll and fill the gaps between government funding. According to Mika, working with AOF has been an “easy, a pleasant experience.”
In the future, Mika looks forward to offering more services virtually, expanding Treasure Family Services’ current capacity. “Being the first one [in my family] to have a business, the first one on the road to generational wealth; hearing the success stories of the families we help, big or small—it’s very rewarding.”