This Portlander's crowdfunding campaign seeks to turn a life around

By: Malia Spencer - May 22, 2015
Source: Portland Business Journal

Buckley is campaigning for a $5,000 loan from Community Sourced Capital that will help him to start a mobile hot dog cart in Portland. The funds raised through the CSC loan will be matched by Craft3, a community development finance institution. Together the money will help him get his cart started.

Buckley is turning to Community Sourced Capital and Craft3 because his past makes it difficult to start a business under more traditional methods.

Buckley has a criminal record.

It was while he was incarcerated at Multnomah County Jail that he met Sonja Skvarla, founder and CEO of the nonprofit A Social Ignition. The group works with incarcerated individuals to teach them about entrepreneurship and how to start a business.

The group started working with inmates last summer. So far 29 people had graduated from the program and 10 of those individuals have been released. Of those who have been released, 70 percent are stable, Skvarla said. Three of them are employed, two have gone back to school to better learn a trade and two, including Buckley, are starting businesses.

“Jason was in our class in Multnomah County Jail. He called me the day he got out,” she said. “We developed this business idea in class and he got permission from his parole officer to do this. Usually they have to find a job right away but he has permission to work on starting a business.”

With Community Sourced Capital, members of the community can lend money to local businesses in $50 increments by buying what is called a square in the business. These squareholders are repaid by the business within three years.

Buckley plans to name the business Hottie Das and it will sell high quality hot dogs, brats and chili.

Buckley, who is from Vancouver, is on probation in Portland for the next three years, following an eight-month stint in county jail.

“I followed through with everything when I met her,” Buckley, 39, said of Skvarla. “She taught us a lot about the ins and outs of business and how to develop a real marketable business plan.”

Buckley’s campaign wraps up on June 8, and so far he has raised $1,200. If he falls short of his $5,000 goal he will not receive the money from Community Sourced Capital.

“This is my life right now. I never saw the life like this and the people I have been meeting. I know my life is going to drastically change.”