SBA loan program gives small business owners a head start
SBA loan program gives small business owners a head start

Stacy Nguyen starts every morning with the dough.

“I love to cook, so the fact that I start playing with dough and making bread every day is my happiness,” Nguyen said as he kneaded three dozen buns.

Over the past five years, she has strived to perfect the art of baking bánh mì, the Vietnamese term for bread.

“We went to Vietnam so I could actually experience bread and how it tasted, and it made a huge difference,” she said.

Nguyen’s husband, Mike, whose family immigrated to the United States from Vietnam more than 40 years ago, says cooking and baking are part of the family.

What do you want to know

  • 20 years after they met, Mike and Stacy Nguyen opened Bánh Mì 47 in downtown Albany this fall
  • The restaurant serves bánh mì, a staple of Vietnamese cuisine
  • With help from M&T Bank, the couple received a loan from the Small Business Administration to help pay for much of their kitchen equipment.
  • SBA loans are generally intended for new business owners or those in high-risk sectors who are not generally eligible for traditional financing.

“My parents are great cooks, and when we went back to Vietnam, everyone was a great cook,” he said.

Twenty years after meeting at Siena College, the Nguyens decided to go into business. Each said they were tired of going on long trips focused on getting the perfect bánh mì sandwich.

“There’s definitely a void of bánh mì available in the area,” Mike said. “We always had to go to New York or Boston, or even California to get really good bánh mì.”

“That’s when we decided to take the time to figure out how to make the bread, how to properly prep all the meats, and it all just came together,” Stacy said.

Earlier this fall, they opened Bánh Mì 47 in downtown Albany, but the couple says it wasn’t easy at all.

“It’s been a roller coaster,” Mike said. “We basically signed the lease for this place a month before the COVID shutdown.”

The Nguyens did not go through the process of starting a new business alone. They say they got a lot of help from Vince Amodeo and his team at M&T Bank.

M&T partnered with the US Small Business Administration (SBA) to secure a loan from the couple to help them buy much of their kitchen equipment.

“Companies that are either start-ups or those that could be in a high-risk industry sometimes don’t qualify for traditional loans,” said Amodeo, regional head of corporate banking at M&T. “The SBA program allows businesses like Bánh Mì 47 to get started and get started, to have the cash flow and access to capital they desperately need.”

M&T is one of the top 10 SBA loan providers in the country. In addition to helping new businesses, Amodeo says the funding mechanism can help established entrepreneurs who may be strapped for cash as a result of the pandemic.

“Sometimes in high-risk industries there can be a situation where there is a lack of collateral,” Amodeo said. “These are all critical areas where the SBA can somehow step in and play an important role.”

Without the SBA loan, the Nguyens said it likely would have taken a lot longer to realize their dream.

“We don’t have a business background, we don’t have a restaurant background and they took a minute to listen to our story and understand what we wanted to do, which made a huge difference for us” , said Stacy.

Now that they’re up and running, everyone says they’re already working to make Bánh Mì 47 bigger and better.

“It’s all been fun,” Mike said. “It’s scary, it’s exciting, all those things rolled into one.”

“The fact that we’re kind of on the other side now and actually doing it makes it a lot more enjoyable,” Stacy Nguyen said. “We’re just happy to be here and share our food with everyone.”


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