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Alicia: Tamale trailblazer

Alicia went from door-to-door sales to owning her own tamale food cart, using Lending Circles to overcome her debt and lack of credit score.

When Alicia first started her tamale business, she went door to door selling homemade tamales with her eight-year-old son, Pedro. Each week, she had enough money to buy supplies for 100 tamales and after she sold them all, she would bring home a tiny profit. A good week would end with Alicia making a $200 profit. She was working so hard but there was no way with that little profit that she could take care of all her bills.

A better future

The family struggled with unemployment and business debt. It was a very frustrating and stressful time for her but Alicia kept going because she believed in her tamale business. Joining a Lending Circle got Alicia her first loan for $1,000, which helped her to eventually open her own food cart business in San Francisco: Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas. Taking MAF’s financial management classes and paying her loans off on time helped Alicia get her finances in order.

“Before when my kids asked me to buy things, I would say ‘no, you have to wait.’ Now, they are surprised when I say ‘yes, let’s go!'”

Alicia went from selling 100 tamales by her self to managing 7 employees to make 3,000 tamales a week. You’ll soon be able to find Alicia’s Tamales in Whole Foods later this year and she’s working on a business plan to open up her first restaurant.

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“On Mondays, we make the fillings.Tuesdays and Wednesdays, we put the tamales together. Thursdays and Fridays, we package and deliver them to our happy customers!” Alicia said.

One of her happy customers is Heather Watkins, who will be serve Alicia’s delicious tamales at her upcoming wedding.

“There is so much to say about Alicia’s Tamales. Her whole heart and soul is transferred through her wonderful food. She is changing the lives of her community and family with her business. Her joy and hard work makes everyone around her feel like being apart of this movement is exactly where they are supposed to be, and inspires others to join in. My fiancee and I are honored to have such a trailblazer be apart of our wedding day,” she said.

After participating in Lending Circles, Alicia has been able to save money and plans to continue paying down her debt to live her American Dream. With the success of her food cart and catering service, she has some exciting projects in the work. You’ll soon be able to find Alicia’s Tamales in Whole Foods later this year and she’s working on a business plan to open up her first restaurant!

“We have a saying in my business,” Alicia said. “My tamales are stuffed with love and the best people are stuffed with my tamales!”