Celeste Phillips stands and smiles at the camera with her hands on her hips. She is wearing a pink shirt and is standing in front of a pink truck with the Big Lulu’s Trucking logo on it. She and the truck are on a road with houses on both sides.
Celeste Phillips started her small business, Big LuLu’s Trucking LLC, with the help of Bridgeway Capital and Wells Fargo’s Diverse Community Capital program.
Small Business
November 15, 2018

Turning $50 into a small business owner’s dream come true

When Celeste Phillips wanted to start her own business, she turned to Bridgeway Capital, which provided her with funding and resources, thanks to support from Wells Fargo.

Celeste Phillips believes that working for someone else forces you to put your own dreams on hold. But working for yourself, she said, allows you to fulfill your dreams.

Wells Fargo’s Diverse Community Capital program helps small businesses like Big Lulu’s Trucking, a woman-owned hauling company in Pittsburgh. This video was produced in June 2017. (3:27)

That’s why she started Big LuLu’s Trucking LLC, a construction and hauling company in Pittsburgh.

Before starting her own business, Phillips said she knew people who owned dump trucks, so she learned the business from them. When Phillips needed funding, she turned to Bridgeway Capital, a Community Development Financial Institution, or CDFI, that provides capital and business education to develop low- to moderate-income communities, increase access to healthy foods, expand social services, and help small businesses grow.

Shawn Thomas is standing outside of a house with John and Celeste Phillips. Thomas is leaning forward and shaking hands with Celeste Phillips, as they both smile. John Phillips stands beside Celeste Phillips and holds a cup.
Shawn Thomas of Bridgeway Capital helped John and Celeste Phillips start Big Lulu’s Trucking LLC.

In May 2016, Bridgeway Capital was one of 15 CDFIs that received $22.3 million in lending capital and grants as a part of Wells Fargo Works for Small Business®: Diverse Community Capital program. The program is awarding $50 million in lending capital and $25 million in grants to CDFIs over three years — helping the CDFIs provide diverse-owned small businesses access to capital, technical assistance, business planning, and other resources. Beginning this year and continuing through 2020, Wells Fargo has committed an additional $100 million in grants to CDFIs.

Phillips said she went to Bridgeway Capital with $50, and the CDFI loaned her $10,000, which she used to purchase her first truck. She earned that money back once the business got started, and since then, Bridgeway Capital has helped Big LuLu’s Trucking refinance its loan to buy more trucks, upgrade to newer equipment, and hire more employees. Today, the business has five trucks and employs six people.

“Being inside this truck is my dream, and we work hard to make it come true,” Phillips said.