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Four Seasons Coffee and Donut Shop

Owner: Ismael Donzo
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Business: Café
Purpose of Loan: Renovations, Equipment and Inventory

Ismael Donzo is living proof that it’s never too late (or too early) to make a bold change. He first came to America from Liberia in the early 2000’s. After a few years working different jobs, in 2012, he opened a clothing store in Philadelphia’s Woodland Avenue business district. As he spent more time in the predominately African immigrant community, he noticed there was no place neighborhood residents to sit, grab a bite to eat, and have a conversation. This inspired him to make the bold decision to transform his clothing store into a café in 2013.

While Ismael had the desire and work ethic needed to overhaul his business, he was lacking the knowledge and financial capital to see it through. After speaking with other Woodland Avenue business owners, he reached out to Community First Fund / FINANTA and joined the Affinity Group Lending (AGL) program. With the technical assistance and training he received through the program, Ismael was able to get his first AGL loan and start renovating his business. We continued to provide Ismael with AGL loans to cover new equipment, inventory, and other improvements and repairs as he completed the transformation.

Ismael’s vision became reality with the opening of Four Seasons Coffee and Donut Shop in 2014. The café quickly became a community hotspot where patrons discuss sports, politics and other topics over some good food and beverages. Ismael and his wife sell a variety of food and drink ranging from breakfast pastries to chicken to their famous African tea. The café’s success allowed him to grow his personal wealth as well, as he bought two commercial spaces that he rents out two African owned businesses. By recognizing a need in the community and quickly pivoting his business model, Ismael has become a success story in the Woodland Avenue neighborhood.