Rancher Granted Loan with Help of Cooperative Extension Program
October 22, 2018 – What started as a hobby for a small-town girl has grown into a business on its way to success. Alexis Penta, the owner of the Double AJ Chicken Ranch, is a business owner who is benefitting from Prairie View A&M University’s efforts to put the community first. The University’s Cooperative Extension Program is making great strides in making small business farmers’ dreams become a reality.
Penta recently received a $25,000 loan through the Tory Burch Foundation which helps support woman-owned businesses. CEP Extension Agent for Zavala, Dimmit, and Uvalde Counties, Phyllis Varnon guided Penta through the loan process. The Double AJ Chicken Ranch has been in operation since 2014. “It started as a hobby farm with 25 chickens. I tried to see if I could sell the eggs and they were pretty successful in the area. We started doing more research and come to find out there were eight producers in this area. That became my motivation,” said Penta.
Varnon and Penta had known each other for a few years, but their business relationship grew once Penta realized Varnon was the Extension Agent for her area and sought help to jumpstart her company. Varnon worked with Penta to apply for a loan through PeopleFund and the Tory Burch Foundation sourced that loan. Through working together, Varnon was able to see the tenacity and determination Penta had for her business to be successful. “The thing that I admire about her is that she just doesn’t give up,” said Varnon.
Penta now has working capital to help expand her farm operations in areas such as raising chickens, marketing, and packaging. Double AJ Chicken Ranch eggs are currently stocked in three stores, some restaurants in San Antonio, and surrounding small communities in Zavala County. Locals also purchase the eggs. Penta’s goals include continued growth, and to expand into at least two new stores or restaurants each year.