Alex Getahoun came from Ethiopia to the United States at age 11, then moved to Atlanta in his 30s with an entrepreneurial notion. All he needed to start his company- Speed Laboratory-was equipment, space, staff and approval from the Food and Drug Administration. In other words, he needed money. “I had just $1,300 in my bank account,” he said. “I knew what I wanted to do, but it was a struggle.” He turned to a nonprofit, Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (ACE), which in 2008 gave him a $25,000 loan. Getahoun rented 1,000 square feet of space and hired his first employee. “That money let me get the business together,” Getahoun said. “At the time, that was huge for me. I couldn’t have done it without ACE.”
Getahoun’s company does quality control testing on pharmaceuticals, chemicals and medicines, a niche without many players when he started it. The company paid off that first loan and got a second one to help with expansion. Speed Laboratory now has more than a half-dozen employees and 9,000 square feet of space in Norcross.