Small business owners continue to exhibit unrelenting resiliency despite systematic hurdles and challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

THIS WAY UP: STORIES OF ASCENSION will celebrate these hard-won successes. In this video series, you will hear from Ascendus leadership, clients, and our community of partners as they articulate five core themes that have been fundamental to 2021 through the ongoing challenges of COVID-19.


The “us” in our name Ascendus, acknowledges the importance of collaboration with clients, partners, peers, and donors to create a collective response to our collective challenges.

Claudia never stopped trying to provide for her students even when COVID-19 shut down her daycare. See how she collaborated with her community to find new ways to provide safe and educational learning environments.

Sponsored by


For 30 years, Ascendus has worked to address the nationwide issue of financial inequity by empowering low-to-moderate income business owners with access to capital and support.

Kymme made history in her community by providing a healthy eating space in a sea of fast food. See how she never stopped providing for her community, even when she was forced to close her café.

Kymme Davis-Williams | The Bushwick Grind, NY

Sponsored by


Ascendus provides innovative support to small business owners to empower entrepreneurs, improve lives, and rapidly implement small but progressive evolutionary changes that will cumulatively achieve a transformative revolution.

Juan wanted to bring innovation to Boston, and he started with coffee. See how he found new ways to expand his reach and give back to his community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Juan Arroyave | Kikos Coffee & Tea, MA

Sponsored by

Watch our story and get 30% off any Kikos Coffee order over $25 using this code:

Juan Arroyave


Our values distinguish our organization. Inclusion, adaptability, empathy, integrity, passion, and dedication guide and define our work.

Lia’s floral business was essential during COVID-19. See how she leveraged her values to provide beauty in a time of darkness, and how she navigated the emotions of her clients during their time of loss.

Lia Di Angelo Allan | Westbury Floral Design, NY

Sponsored by



We changed our name to Ascendus to represent the bold, fundamental shift from a vision of financial inclusion to a world of financial ascension for all. We know it’s no longer enough to be transactional – we must be transformative in our work, so all ships rise.

Monica and Catherine met through their daughters and found a common love for baking. They wanted to center their lives around their passion and decided to open a bakery. Using traditional European baking, they are providing healthy and homemade goods to their community, in a style that was never seen before in Miami.

Monica Sarmiento-Stadlin and Catherine van den Bossche | Madame Lecker Bakery – Miami

Sponsored by

jp morgan chase
Monica Sarmiento-Stadlin and Catherine van den Bossche

The Power of Up

We’re here to help small businesses succeed. At Ascendus, we work together with minority entrepreneurs – often individuals of color and women – to provide economic opportunities. We’re dedicated to helping passionate entrepreneurs build assets so they can provide for their families, create employment opportunities, and improve their communities.

Marquita found herself constantly discriminated against when trying to expand her electrical contracting business, but she never let it stop her. See how she used her passion to find new opportunities and reach the next level in her business journey.

Marquita Kelley | NHK Electrical Contractors, MA

Financial Ascension for All

Financial inclusion is no longer enough. Today, we seek to create a world of financial ascension for all. Our focus on ascension means that we are enhancing how we measure progression, to ensure our work is transformational, and not merely transactional.

Arturo lost the equivalent of $1MM overnight when the pandemic hit, but he never let it stop him from moving forward. Through perseverance, Arturo was able to not only build back what he lost but expand his business.

Arturo Griego | G3 Design Build, Miami

Arturo Griego

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