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Picture of Marlene Rush Mackey
Marlene Rush Mackey

Minority Woman Entrepreneur Overcomes Obstacles to Find Success

Regional Success Story of the Year
Atlanta business owner found true success, even after filing bankruptcy!

Mrs, Marlene Rush Mackey was forced to begin a new life as a single parent of 2 young children and had serious financial challenges, including facing foreclosure on her home. After securing a full time job she still found it impossible to catch up with the mortgage payments, pay for childcare and provide the bare necessities. After exhausting all her resources, Ms. Rush Mackey filed for bankruptcy, to save her home and save some money.


During her search to obtain suitable childcare, she recognized the need for some type of true early childhood education as opposed to the television and playground focused programs being offered. Four months later AFRICARE was opened in the basement and garage space of her home.


In 1996, when her youngest child started school, Ms. Rush Mackey decided to do the same. She graduated with her B.S. in Early Childhood Education in May of 2000 from Kennesaw State University and decided to establish her own school for children. After locating a building, Ms. Mackey Rush attended her first Atlanta MBDC seminar on "Starting A Small Business" and begin working with the MBDC to develop her business plan. Upon initial review of the plan, Clem Wilmot of the Atlanta MBDC and Marva Bryan of Fulton County Economic Development realized the building was too close to a correctional facility and needed to be changed. A new site was identified. Ironically, it was  built by an African-American female educator named Ms. Mabel V. Sullivan in 1976 - the first woman to build and own a private school in the city of Atlanta.


Ms. Rush Mackey edited the business plan to include a new building and presented her package local financial institutions. The first lender told her that it was too large of an undertaking and too large of a facility, with her limited experience and another lender told her that they would not even look at her loan application because she had a bankruptcy. 


A Comerica Bank in Houston, Texas pre-approved her Small Business Administration 504 loan package. Repairs began on the 19,406 square foot facility last August. The new child development center will open once the upgrades are completed. It will be named Got Kids? and located at 1581 Fairburn Road in Atlanta.

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