Houston entrepreneur starts microfinance programs to boost startups

Entrepreneurship is an intensely personal business. Customers and investors must have faith in you, not just your product.

A decade ago, Prasad Menon met a would-be entrepreneur, who not only fixed his wonky garage doors but also called days later just to check that all was well. “He seemed like the owner of the business, not just an employee,” Menon recalled.

In fact, the young technician said he wanted to buy the garage-door business from his soon-to-be-retiring boss, but he lacked $10,000 to buy it, and banks weren’t biting. “I felt for him, and I promised myself that day that one day I would find a way to help other ,” Menon says.

On Saturday, Menon announced funding would be given to five mom-and-pop businesses in Houston as part of the Bayou Microfund, which he recently founded. For Lemon-D-Lite Popcorn in Houston, the fund launched late Friday a website on Kiva Zip Fund, the U.S.-focused branch of the global microloan organization, to help Bayou’s entrepreneurs crowdfund from retail-level investors interested in helping out local entrepreneurs. People can offer loans in $25 increments via services like PayPal.

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Photo: Bayou Micro Fund