The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has been celebrating National Small Business Week for almost 50 years by a presidential proclamation. Part of the celebration is honoring business people in every state and region. This year two of our members received these honors.
2022 Washington and Pacific Northwest Small Business Person of the Year
Efrem Fesaha, CEO and founder of Boon Boona Coffee in Renton and Seattle, was named Washington Small Business Person of the Year. The award recognizes small business owners who have “demonstrated staying power and a substantiated history as an established business with at least three years of business operation,” according to the SBA.
Fesaha opened his business in 2012 when he began sourcing “green” coffee from African distributors and exporters to deliver to Seattle retail establishments. In 2019, he received a $100,000 loan through SBA to open his first brick-and-mortar café. He now owns two locations and employs 20 people.
“Efrem Fesaha is exemplary in his commitment to creating positive impact by transforming an idea into reality through Boon Boona Café and Roastery,” said SBA Seattle District Director Kerrie Hurd.
After one year in business, the coronavirus pandemic impacted the industry around the world, including Boon Boona Coffee.
“If it wasn’t for the relief we received through these programs, our business may not be here today,” Fesaha said.
Fesaha was honored May 5 by the SBA, the city of Seattle and King County.
“This National Small Business Week, we’re excited to celebrate Efrem Fesaha and Boon Boona Coffee as we reaffirm our city’s commitment to uplifting and working alongside small businesses,” said Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell. “Supporting small businesses is critical for a robust and equitable recovery and necessary to drive economic empowerment and create a vibrant, diverse city.”
Fesaha’s win as Pacific Northwest Small Business Person of the Year earned him a nomination for the national award.
2022 Young Entrepreneur of the Year
Twenty-four-year-old Jessica Atkinson, CEO of Sweet Frostings Blissful Bakeshop in Spokane, was named Washington state’s 2022 Young Entrepreneur of the Year. The award, “recognizes a young entrepreneur that demonstrates staying power and substantiated history as an established business with at least three years of business operation,” according to the SBA’s website
Atkinson started working at the bakery when she was 14. Her mother, Sally Winfrey and Judy Rozier Beebe co-founded Sweet Frostings in 2011 when they sold 300 cupcakes in one day. Atkinson worked weekends while she finished high school and business school and is now leading the company. Today, Sweet Frostings has two locations and employs 35 people.
“As a company, we have realized goals that I have dreamed about since I was 15,” Atkinson said. “Being recognized with this award and seeing how far we have come is almost unbelievable.”
Last year, Atkinson completed the SBA program, Emerging Leaders, a free entrepreneurship training for small business executives. During the pandemic, she utilized funding from the SBA Paycheck Protection Program and the Restaurant Relief Fund.
“We’re so proud of you and getting through the pandemic,” said Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward to Atkinson when she received her award. “This is our happy place.”