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Creative Ways to Fund Your Business

When the money tree looks dry, sometimes you just have to create your own branch.

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This story appears in the March 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

When Lissa D'Aquanni created a gourmet chocolate business in her Albany, New York, basement in 1998, she had not only a passion for candy-making, but also a knack for spurring citizen involvement. The former nonprofit executive had worked for women's advocacy groups, most recently promoting breast cancer awareness. If there was one thing she knew, it was how to rally community support.

Her ability to leverage local resources would be invaluable as she made her business a fixture of her Albany neighborhood. And in no area were those skills as critical as in financing. Last year, when D'Aquanni wanted to move her business, The Chocolate Gecko, to an abandoned building three blocks away, she needed $25,000 in owner's equity for the $260,000 renovation project. So she mailed letters to area residents soliciting financial support for her revitalization plan. "Within a month," she recalls, "we had raised the $25,000." Volunteers also helped renovate the building, cutting project costs from an estimated $300,000.

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