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Through a partnership with the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce, this fund provides small business and commercial loans in East Tennessee counties, including Anderson, Blount, Grainger, Jefferson, Knox, Loudon, Roane, Sevier, and Union. With a goal to improve access to capital for area small businesses, particularly those led by minority or woman business owners, the fund focuses on loans under $50,000.

Skilled Tradesman Commits
to Dream of Entrepreneurship

client profile:

Growing up in Jamaica, Tiekel Finnikin spent countless hours helping his grandmother while she sold toys, fruit, jewelry and everything in between. They’d even spend Christmas morning selling on street corners.

“I learned early that before you ever try to sell your product or service, you have to sell yourself,” says Finnikin. “There were plenty of people competing for a very small number of customers, so the ability to build relationships and trust was a critical skill I learned very young.”

After attending Knoxville College on a track and field scholarship, Finnikin applied the perseverance it took to compete every weekend to finding a career. Starting from the bottom at each, Finnikin worked his way up through food service, technology sales, and cell phone repair.

“At every job, I worked very, very hard to gain the skills needed to be successful,” says Finnikin. “Each time, I’d master as much as I could, but I always wanted a bigger challenge. That’s when I decided to start my own business.”

As a skilled electronics repairman, Finnikin decided to open his own cell phone repair center with a partner. That partnership, however, crumbled and Finnikin was left to start over. He met with dozens of bankers to try to find the funding he needed, but none could make the loan, even after the family sold their home to try to come up with the money to start the company again. That’s when a referral to Pathway Lending changed everything.

“After that first partnership failed, I swore I’d never go into business with anyone ever again,” says Finnikin. “But Pathway quickly became the business partner I needed. Since day one they’ve been there; not just with the money I needed, but with hands-on help with my accounting systems. When so many others didn’t, Pathway believed in me.”

Finnikin now has a full-time employee and a growing loyal customer base. Through it all, he and his wife never doubted that they’d succeed.

“My daughters are watching me,” says Finnikin. “I know they’re seeing that it takes perseverance and integrity to be successful and we’re proud of that.”

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