Borrower with a heart of gold spreads love with her San Francisco flower shop

By Hope Kerpelman

“…She stayed late and worked into the night to deliver beautiful flowers to the chapel early the next morning…I’m truly amazed at Vanessa and how dedicated she is.”

There are few gestures that can cross cultures, time and language like the gift of a flower. No matter the occasion — a wedding, party, memorial, anniversary, or even an apology — their underlying intent is the same: to express love.

For Vanessa, who runs her own San Francisco flower shop, this concept means everything. With a passion for design and a unique creative flair, she dreamed of opening her own shop for years while working as a bartender. With the help of a Kiva loan, Vanessa is finally living her dream: she was able to open a shop, Polk Street Florist, and has kept business flourishing ever since.

“The thing I love most about running a flower shop is being able to share my passion for flowers and spread joy to the recipients,” she says.

And Vanessa most certainly spreads joy. A passionate, dedicated woman, she has become a real staple of the San Francisco community.

“The thing I love most about running a flower shop is being able to share my passion for flowers and spread joy to the recipients.”

With one of the busiest times of year for a florist coming up, Valentine’s Day, Vanessa is preparing for lots of deliveries (and red roses!) as she reflects on her shop’s history.

“Trying to get the funding together for the business was really difficult. I tried the big banks, but nobody would give me a small business loan, even with excellent credit,” she says. “I was amazed with how much support I received from Kiva lenders! Total strangers from as far away as Thailand read my story and believed in me enough to support me.”

Not only a talented designer and creative wiz, Vanessa is known for her empathetic nature and her desire to help people in their times of both joy and grief. At Kiva, Vanessa is a special friend to many, a woman willing to lend a helping hand when it is most needed. Jessica Hansen, Kiva’s Global Engagement Manager, describes one instance near to the heart of many at Kiva.

“Kiva has only ever lost one employee, our friend and colleague Paul, who passed away in an accident here in San Francisco just two days before Valentine’s Day in 2014. His funeral took place the day after Valentine’s Day, so trying to find a place with enough flowers to spare on such short notice was virtually impossible. Vanessa was already helping out on busy days at the flower shop she would one day come to own, and she stayed late and worked into the night to deliver beautiful flowers to the chapel early the next morning. It was a gift to us at Kiva to be able to show some gratitude to her by helping her get the loan to get her flower shop going.”

An amazing woman and successful business owner, Vanessa is a shining example of the love and gratitude we all hope to spread this Valentine’s Day. She thanks Kiva’s community and the lenders who believed in her, saying, “I always believed that if you were a good person with a good attitude, good things will happen. Thank you Kiva for making my dream come true!”

Check out Vanessa’s shop at http://polkstreetflorist.com, or help spread the love this Valentine’s Day with a loan on Kiva.