Michael Preston is an outstanding example of how dreams can start at an early age, and how business owners can service community interests by breaking down the walls of exclusivity. Thanks to a partnership between Accion and The Hartford through its Communities with HART program, Michael qualified for a loan that allowed him to manage his finances and start his business, Cruisin’ Waves .
Michael Preston grew up in the West Side neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois. From his earliest memories of family trips to Lake Michigan, he recalls gazing out at individuals on luxury yachts, feeling like an outsider. “I never saw people who looked like me out on the water,” Michael remembers. So he decided one day to change the local community’s experience of water recreation during Chicago’s beautiful summer season and start Cruisin’ Waves. Cruisin’ Waves is a source of recreation for families of all incomes. In 2013, Michael and his wife Greta launched the business in Aurora where they live after attending a boat show that opened their eyes to an eco-friendly business opportunity. The couple invested in Go Float boats – clean, quiet and moderately priced electric boats.
Prior to connecting with Accion, the couple had purchased four boats, single- and double-sized. Thanks to a partnership between Accion and The Hartford through its Communities with HART program, Michael qualified for a loan that allowed him to purchase a fifth boat that could accommodate three riders. “I was under pressure with a 30-day promise of repayment,” Michael says, and the loan helped him to manage his finances as he prepared to provide as many different offerings as possible during his business’ grand opening.