FY2021

A Sign of Hope

When Amanda and Melvin Khanga decided to attend an event with family and friends to honor Veteran’s Day, she had no idea just how much the event would change their lives. 

Amanda said she has always believed things happen for a reason. On Veteran’s Day 2020, Amanda discovered a new goal for her and her husband. She wandered around the event, looking at all the flags and listening to all the speeches. Something and someone caught her eye. She watched as a gentleman set up a display booth for Card My Yard, Northwest Arkansas. Amanda was familiar with the idea where individuals hire a company that puts sign displays in people’s yards and in front of businesses for a day to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, baby showers, weddings and other milestones. She was intrigued and decided to talk to the man. The man explained that he was setting it up for his wife, who owns the business. They spoke, and the man told Amanda that his wife was trying to sell off part of the area she served.  

The COVID-19 pandemic boosted the popularity of the business, and the orders had increased. The man’s wife was extremely busy running the business. Her territory consisted of a large portion of Northwest Arkansas, from Fayetteville to Bella Vista, to the Oklahoma state line. Since the business was doing so well, his wife wanted to expand. So, she was trying to sell off part of her service area.  

Amanda’s mind started racing. Firecrackers went off inside her head. She called her husband, Melvin, over to listen to the story. As they left the display and enjoyed the rest of the day with family, Amanda could not get Card My Yard out of her head. She thought this might be something for her and Melvin to explore. 

Amanda and Melvin both have good jobs, but they don’t have money saved for the future. Amanda is known for getting ideas in her head and running them by Melvin. He always supported her from the side, but this was different. This time Melvin was equally on-board. They decided to go to lunch and talk about the idea of becoming business owners. Amanda and Melvin prayed about this opportunity, and a week later, they shared the news with family. Amanda got in touch with the Card My Yard’s owner, and pieces started falling into place. 

Amanda and Melvin started the small business loan process by going to their local bank. Amanda was optimistic about the financing portion. They planned to use their house as collateral, but they ran into a snag. The couple had not owned their home long enough, and there was not enough equity in it. They needed more money than the bank was willing to loan them. However, someone who worked at the bank had assisted customers who had worked with Communities Unlimited in the past. The bank recommended that Amanda and Melvin reach out to CU. They called Communities Unlimited and started visiting with Loan Officer Debra Williams. After beginning the paperwork with CU, Amanda and Melvin began training with Card My Yard.  

In December 2020, just a few weeks after attending the Veteran’s Day event, Amanda and Melvin were deep in the loan process with Communities Unlimited. They interviewed with Card My Yard and signed the franchise disclosure paperwork at the end of January 2021. 

Amanda shared that she and Melvin were so grateful that Communities Unlimited was there, and she is glad that they did not go with a traditional bank. Amanda said working with CU was easy, and the lending team was excellent. “They were all caps, bright colors, friendly, and offered reassurance and plenty of guidance along the way,” Amanda said, “They asked questions that made me think. They gave us a realistic viewpoint and guided us with making a plan during the whole process.”  

Communities Unlimited was able to offer the loan to the Khanga’s in part because of support from the Walton Family Foundation to create a revolving loan fund specifically for the underserved entrepreneurs we serve in Northwest Arkansas.

Amanda said that the big picture that she had in mind didn’t work out the way she expected. There were a lot of steps to tackle, including creating the LLC, getting insurance, gathering all of the paperwork, making phone calls, all while working full time. Amanda and Melvin got in mid-March 2021. 

They have already made so many clients happy. Amanda is so excited about what the future holds for their small business. Her belief that everything happens for a reason has already come full circle. Amanda shared one of her clients is a repeat customer, and clients are starting to refer her to their friends, family and colleagues. 

Amanda enjoys interacting with the clients and focusing on all the details of their stories. Amanda and Melvin are grateful for the loan they received from Communities Unlimited. They have already changed so many lives in a short time, including building wealth for their future.