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Tag: Entrepreneurs

On Food & Family: Isabel’s Story


Isabel joined a Lending Circle to help grow her business. This summer, her restaurant “El Buen Comer” opened in Bernal Heights.

Isabel is a MAF client and entrepreneur who used Lending Circles to expand her already successful culinary business. She gave these remarks at the MAFter Party, a celebration of MAF’s national Lending Circles network that took place on October 27, 2016. Her new Bernal Heights restaurant El Buen Comer helped cater the event.

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My love for food began as a young girl, when I was living in Mexico City, where I was born. My mother and my seven sisters used to cook for the whole family, especially for the holidays. Cooking always caught my attention.

So when my family moved to San Francisco in 2001, I began cooking from my home in the Tenderloin.

It was a way of creating community in a new place.

I prepared traditional foods that reminded me of Mexico: stews, beans and rice, and tortillas that I made from scratch.

In 2007, a friend recommended that I visit La Cocina, an organization that supports women entrepreneurs, so I could formalize my business. That’s how my business began to grow.

I opened a stand in the Noe Valley Farmers’ Market and began baking the bread sticks for Pizzeria Delfina in the Mission. We decided to call our business El Buen Comer. I dedicated myself to creating authentic Mexican dishes. To this day, I still use my mother’s recipe for mole verde.

At first, it was hard. I had to invest so much — first in a truck, then in paying for permits for my business — that I didn’t have any profits at all. I felt discouraged – I remember commenting to my husband, “ I don’t know if I want to keep doing this.”

But my family supported me. One of my sons started writing me notes with positive messages to encourage me. I was determined, and I didn’t allow myself to give up.

I needed to buy an industrial steamer to sell my tamales in the Farmers’ Market, but it cost $1,400, and we just didn’t have enough saved. It was in that moment that I heard of MAF through a friend who had participated in Lending Circles with MAF. I joined my own Lending Circle, and for the first time, I had a safe, reliable way to save money.

In June, I opened my restaurant, El Buen Comer, on Mission Street in Bernal Heights. My husband, sons and I run the business together, and my husband still works at the Farmers’ Market on Saturdays.

Even though the business isn’t physically in my home anymore, the restaurant practically is my home. I spend more time there than in my own house!

We decorated the restaurant with Mexican crafts, and also with the toy cars my sons used to play with when they were little.

This helps us remember how and where our dream began.

Lending Circles were our first financial door – they gave me access to loans to open my own restaurant, which is something I could never have imagined. But more important than that, they helped me learn to manage the financial system to open even more opportunities in the future.

My dream continues. We’re planning to form a Lending Circle within our family to keep building credit and help us realize our next dream.

Sandra: An Artist-Entrepreneur Brings Her Vision to Life


Sandra’s journey — and her dreams — represent the strength of the Mission community.

Sandra’s creative style is all her own, but her story speaks for an entire community. She’s one of the visionary artists and entrepreneurs San Francisco’s Mission District has cultivated for generations. With Friscolitas, her mobile screen printing business, she has turned her craft into a career. And with the help of MAF’s Lending Circles for Business, she has built the foundation she needs to take Friscolitas to the next level.

But it all started back in her hometown of Zacatecas, Mexico.

The Journey

Sandra was just 12 years old when her mother, a single parent in Zacatecas, made the courageous decision to move to San Francisco, driven by the promise of a better life. Coming from Mexico to the Mission was a tough transition for mother and daughter alike, but they never regretted their choice. Thanks to her mother’s support, Sandra thrived in her new home.

Dreaming Big

Sandra has always had a desire to change the world in a big way. With a work ethic that matched her ambitions, she earned 3 degrees from San Francisco State University. After graduation Sandra began a career as a social worker, but her inquisitive mind was always looking for new areas to explore. She witnessed the changing demographics of her neighborhood and took note of the forces reshaping her community. She knew she wanted to keep the Mission’s unique flavor alive and contribute something of her own to its culture.

Friscolitas: Mission Raised

Her interest in screen printing began with a brainstorming session — not about potential business opportunities, but about ideas for inexpensive gifts she could give her family. In the winter of 2011, Sandra approached friends in her network who could help bring to life the designs that, until then, existed only in her imagination. The result: beautiful t-shirts emblazoned with Sandra’s distinctive take on Dia de los Muertos “Calacas” (skulls), grinning with Mission pride.

What started as a do-it-yourself gift idea has since become an business venture for this entrepreneur. Now she brings her t-shirts to the community at local art galleries,
restaurants, concerts, and festivals. Friscolitas has a growing clientele, attracted by its unique artistic style and its authentic Mission roots. Despite this increasing demand, Sandra hit a roadblock. She struggled to secure an affordable business loan because of a low credit score.

That’s when she found MAF.

Through our Lending Circles for Business program, Sandra pushed her credit score above 800, boosting her confidence and giving her access to business loans with much better terms. Her zero-interest social loan is funding a Friscolitas website so Sandra can finally showcase her work online and reach audiences far beyond her neighborhood.

Customers leave Friscolitas with more than just a t-shirt. As Sandra puts it, they “carry around her art,” heading back into the world with an expression of their shared identity. And there’s no better symbol of the power of the Mission’s culture and the bonds of its community.

Diana gets tails wagging with a small business loan


For Diana, dogs are so much more than little balls of love and fluff

Growing up in Mexico, Diana’s mother treated dogs like they were members of their own family. But when Diana moved to San Francisco at age 12, her family no longer had the space to accommodate a dog. She longed for the day she could bring a family dog back into her life, but it wasn’t until after college that she was able to make this dream happen.

After studying interior design at City College, Diana began her career working with a Home Stager. This was rewarding because she could make any house into a work of art. She could take an everyday kitchen and make it look like it was the set of a fancy cooking show, or a living room make it look comforting and homey just by arranging furniture and light.

When the housing market crashed in 2008, no one was looking to sell a house, let alone hire someone to make it look nice. The crash left her without a job and forced her to rethink her career trajectory. That’s when Diana began to look back on her childhood memories.

“I love animals, but I never thought there was a career in them,” Diana explained.

Diana decided to take a risk and jump into a new profession to start a job at a doggie daycare. She had been a lifelong pet owner, and doted on her French bulldog like a loving mom, but she had never done something like this professionally. But she quickly noticed some limitations with the work.

She loved every minute of working with the animals, but found herself frustrated by the long hours, low pay and limited upward mobility. As a result, Diana began looking for ways to become her own boss and set her sights on a opening a dog walking business.

Diana wanted to go to a bank and get a business loan, but she couldn’t. Even though she had lived in the U.S for most of her life, was a college graduate and had a full time job, she had no credit score.

“Once I knew I wanted to start a business, there was no turning back.”

She heard about a local nonprofit that could help her create a business plan through a friend and there she was able to get her dog walking business off the ground. One of the things that business planning taught her was how to find her niche. Diana decided that she didn’t just want to have a typical dog walking business. Instead, she wanted to combine her love of animals with eco-friendly values. She wanted to make sure that every part of her business was eco-friendly – from organic treats and foods the dogs enjoy, to sustainably sourced toys, and even biodegradable waste bags.

Within six months, she had her business license and Green Urban Dog was born. Now accredited to provide animal care, her eco-friendly services were ready to go by 2012. The next hurdles were building her credit score, getting more training and building a client base. To build her credit, she joined Lending Circles, where she went from zero to over 650 in just a few months. She then spent over 56 hours training in CPR and dog walking to learn the ropes. And by the end of 2013, she was able to land her first client. But before she could really call herself Green Urban Dog, she had one final obstacle to overcome.

Diana’s final hurdle was her gas guzzling car.

“I was spending nearly $90 a week in gas alone transporting the dogs across the city,” she said. She knew that she could save money, and fully green her business by purchasing a hybrid vehicle. Even though Diana now had a credit score, and enough income to make the monthly payments on a loan, her score was still below prime and so she couldn’t qualify for an auto loan for a car.

Diana came back to MAF because she heard about a program that provided zero-interest small business loans to business owners. With MAF’s help, Diana received a microloan for her business. She was able to purchase a used, energy efficient car to drive the dogs around. Since then, Diana has joined Lending Circle for Business to keep building her credit so she can gain access to larger loans from banks in the future.

Now with 12 full-time clients, Diana’s business is growing fast. She specializes in working with short nose breeds like English and French bulldogs – a tactic that helps her gain loyal and long term clients. She even runs a “Short-Nose Adventure club” for the pups that provides activities designed for short-nosed breeds.

“I tell everyone that I know, ‘go to Mission Asset Fund for a small business loan.’”

Building credit for the long-term while getting a zero-interest business loan has been a huge boost. Diana’s advice to aspiring business owners? Go for it! Although the road will be hard and scary, she believes “the sun shines for everybody” as long as they work towards their dreams.

Do you know of a small business owner like Diana in San Francisco? Tell them to sign up today at LendingCircles.org.

When Passion Ignites a Path


After an eye-opening experience at a cleaning service company, Reina Aguilera left to start up her own business.

As a young child in her home country of Honduras, Reina Aguilera found herself cleaning and organizing her house so often that her family used to joke about her incessant need to organize.

When she grew older, she pursued an education in international business, unaware that her childhood habit would eventually turn into a career path. After four years in college, Reina got married and decided to move to the United States after seeing all it offered during her honeymoon in the Bay Area.

Though her husband found work in the United States quickly, Reina did not have the same luck.

Feeling homesick and frustrated that she didn’t have a fulfilling job, Reina began to question their big move to the United States. She made the best of the difficult situation by exploring San Francisco, taking English classes and developing a new network of friends.

Eventually, she landed a job as a housekeeper working for a cleaning service in the Bay Area. She loved the work and was eager to learn more about the business. But there was one problem: her boss made Reina’s work very stressful and unpleasant. This job challenged her idea of the U.S. as a place where anyone could pursue his or her dreams – a place where nothing bad could happen.

She felt like her world had been turned upside down.

The harsh introduction to the cleaning services world left Reina determined to be her own boss; she wanted to start and run the best cleaning services company on her own terms. And that’s exactly what she did.

After quitting her job, she took on a position at a taqueria during the week and slowly took on houses for her cleaning service on the weekends. Reina began with one client whom she found through her church community, and Reina’s Cleaning Services was born.

Slowly but surely more and more clients came her way as word got out about her excellent services.

When she and her husband divorced, Reina had to face many emotional and spiritual battles. Overcoming three miscarriages placed a heavy toll on her and made her feel that she would never be able to bear children. After separating from her husband, she now had more time to devote to her dreams.

She soon met the man who would become the father of her child. Despite the odds against her, Reina discovered she was pregnant and gave birth to a baby girl in 2007. As her personal life took an exciting turn, so did her professional life.

Reina started taking business classes at Women’s Initiative (ALAS), and when time came to expand her business, her teacher referred her to MAF to get a loan. She joined Lending Circles in 2009 and used the money from her first loan towards the purchase of her first car, an essential investment that allowed her to travel to her clients’ homes. Since then, she has participated in 9 Lending Circles. She has used her loans to buy equipment for her business like a new vacuum and for repairs on a car.

Her participation in Lending Circles has enabled her to invest a total of nearly $4,000-$5,000 in her business.

Reina’s involvement with MAF has led to more than just investment in her business. She has watched her credit score increase with the scale of her business; a total of 77 points.

At age 39, Reina continues to stay active in the Lending Circles program and with MAF not just to continue building her credit, but also to pursue the other opportunities MAF offers her like business classes and new programs like the Lending Circles for Business Owners. She has also referred many of her friends to MAF’s services.

For Reina, MAF represents much more than just a place to grow her business; it’s a place where she can be empowered to grow as a person.

Reina looks forward to day she can hire her first employee, and hopes to hire those are in the position she was once in herself – those struggling to achieve their dreams. She also wants to her daughter to grow up and look to her business as a source of pride.

Reina ended our conversation by expressing her desire to inspire others. Despite all that she has been through, she has made it through and MAF is proud to have played a small part in helping her make her dreams come true.

Blanca: Building her Beauty Salon Business Dream


Blanca’s come a long way from her days braiding her sister’s hair.

Blanca’s childhood wasn’t always happy. Growing up in Mexico, her family was not supportive of her drive to learn, and constantly told her that she would be better off learning how to clean and be a wife. The happiest times that she had with her family were the days that everyone would line up and ask her to cut their hair. For Blanca, haircare was an outlet for her creativity that she learned from her uncle, one of the few people in her family supportive of her talent.

As she grew up, she knew that she wanted to own a salon. After discovering that her uncle had his own barber shop, she quickly swept up his scissors and found herself  eager to give haircuts to family and friends. But after she got married, the time spent raising her family made her lose touch with her passion. It wasn’t until she came to the United States to get better care for her daughter’s medical condition that she began to entertain her dream once again.

After coming to the United States, Blanca realized her first step to achieving her dream was going to beauty school.

To accomplish this, she needed to save money for the expensive tuition fees. After working two jobs for several years, she finally decided it was time and enrolled in California Beauty School. But Blanca could not transform into a full time student over night; she still had to work eight hours each day on top of her studies.

“I was working, working, working; but I never gave up,” she said.

Upon graduating, Blanca went in search of salon jobs. She worked for little or no pay to learn everything she could taking jobs at different salons throughout the Bay Area, even though they were hesitant to train her.

“At every single salon, I learned a little something new.”

Once she built up her list of clientele and had accumulated a great deal of expertise, she saw her opportunity to move to salon owner. Opening up a new salon often requires taking out loans, so Blanca was determined to build up her credit to access them.

Though she sought advice from local credit-building and finance organizations, Blanca left these conversations “depressed and confused.”

Mission Asset Fund soon connected her to several business classes where she gained a better grasp on what it would take to get her business up and running, and she slowly began mapping out her business plan. Through MAF, she accessed business loans so when the chance to purchase a salon came knocking at her door, she was prepared. The owner of the salon she was working in was ready for retirement and looking to sell, so it was a prime opportunity for Bianca.

Though the transition to salon ownership was by no means smooth sailing.

Like every other stage of her life, Blanca had to fight hard to get the right documentation to establish ownership. Mountains of paperwork and licensing agreements delayed the process. Finally on October 1st, 2014, the salon became hers. Now Blanca can finally turn her focus on expanding her dream. Knowing all too well the difficulties that arise as a new employee of a salon, her goal is to attract people with a drive to learn and pay them well as they are trained. “I want the best for them and the best for the business.” She recognizes that certain employees may learn faster than others and may have strengths in specific areas.

“Like the fingers on your hand, all of us are different.”

The salon is now a family affair. Bianca and her daughters all manage a piece of the business. In the future Blanca wants to expand her business to include a beauty store, make up salon, and multiple hair salons. And with her drive and motivation, it’s hard not to believe in her success.

Leonor Brings Sunshine to the Community


Find out how Leonor used Lending Circles to launch a business to promote good health in her community

For as long as Leonor Garcia can recall, the driving force in her life was to support her community. Even when she was a little girl in El Salvador, Leonor says she always had a keen sense for business, but would use her savviness to help the people around her.

She grew up on a sprawling tobacco farm which her father and mother were in charge of. On the side, her mother owned a small shop that sold food, beverages and other items for the men working in the field. Leonor would spend all of her time tagging along with her father as he inspected the fields, managed the workers, and tended to the crops. When the growing season had ended, she would go with her mother and watch her negotiate sales prices and contracts with various companies and stores that wanted to purchase the tobacco.

Leonor learned a great deal about business and the relationship between products and money, but she also learned that working for the community yields the greatest rewards.

Leonor went on to become a teacher in a local school. For her, teaching children was a dream job. She worked her way up to become the headmaster of the school. During this time, Leonor kept her dream of entrepreneurship alive by owning and running a highly successful grocery store. After she retired from teaching, she decided that it was also time to sell the store. Leonor needed a new adventure and she knew just where to find it. She knew that in the US she would have more opportunities and more freedoms to grow a business.

After moving to the US in 2001, Leonor wanted to start her new business immediately, but she was blocked. Whenever she went for a loan, she was denied because she had no credit. For Leonor, that was a slap in the face. She had run a highly successful business in El Salvador while running a school. She also grew up watching and learning everything she could from her parents.

Leonor wouldn’t give up, but she needed a reliable way of getting money and building her credit. That’s when she found out about Mission Asset Fund through one of her friends. She was able to get a micro loan and build up her credit for future investment. The loan helped her purchase a generator, display shelves and other medical equipment to open up her business, Leonor’s Nature Sunshine.

Leonor’s Nature Sunshine is a business built upon Leonor’s desire to help people live healthier lives.

She provides the latest natural health products, supplements, diagnostic tests and homeopathic remedies for people’s needs. A few minutes in her chair and Leonor will know exactly what ails you and how to fix it! Leonor believes in finding affordable products that treat the root of the problem and the whole system. Her most popular products are for digestion, chlorophyll and probiotics.

Leonor’s store used to be located in a flea market in Richmond, but after her surgery, she moved it to the comfort of her home which was also more private and confidential for clients. She is so client-centered that if they can’t pay her upfront, clients are able to pay her in installments for their purchases. Leonor has become so popular that people come to her house daily to have a meeting with her.

After she appeared on local TV last year, Leonor said she was inundated with calls as soon as the interview was over.

“People said ‘it’s such a blessing to have your phone number!’,” she recalls with a laugh.

Through her successful business Leonor has been able to focus on healing her community and she’s got big dreams for her future. “ I want to have more capacity and more recognition to help people have a satisfied, healthy life,” she says. Leonor also wants to challenge herself new trends in her field, attend conferences and become savvier with social media. She hopes to improve her economic status and begin training others as health promoters.

Right now, Leonor is training her husband, a welder, to work with her in the business. Her interest in nonprofits motivated her to be an ambassador and funder for A New America’s first entrepreneurship class as well as donate funds and time to various nonprofits around the Bay Area. She says that without MAF, none of this could have ever happened and she is thankful every day that she has been given this amazing opportunity to be Mother Nature in her community.

Little Plates, Big Heart


Find out how MAF’s microloans can turn little plates into big business

In the middle of La Cocina’s large kitchen in the Mission District, a small woman moved with the graceful precision of a swan.

Gliding between steaming trays, boiling pots, and simmering pans like a gentle breeze, she smelled, tasted, and seasoned everything in a dreamlike blur. Around her were three other women, all moving with the thoughtful synchronicity of a well trained dance crew. Each woman was conducting a symphony of tasks over an orchestra of pots and pans.

Ximena and I felt like interlopers when we entered into the kitchen and asked for Guadalupe. But without missing a beat, the stout woman sprinkled a little salt into a pan and walked over to us beaming with pride.

“Ah”, she said “we missed you last week.”

Ximena and I apologized for not being able to visit her at the El Pipila tent at Off The Grid, San Francisco’s hub for the best food the city has to offer.

“It’s OK,” she said, waving her hand gently.

“I was so busy, I could barely talk to anyone!” she said with a giggle. For Guadalupe, life was not always as good as it was today.

When Guadalupe was a child in Acambaro, a small city in Mexico, she had a large loving family.

Her father, like many others, had to leave them and travel to the United States as an undocumented worker to support his family. He would send whatever pay he could to her mother so that she could take care of the children. Because of his status, he couldn’t visit with them, and had to stay separated from them for a better part of Guadalupe’s childhood. In 1986, her father received amnesty as an undocumented person, and in 2004, he finally became a citizen. Unfortunately, Guadalupe and her siblings were unable to get citizenship themselves, as they were now older than 18.

Like her father,Guadalupe ended up leaving her two daughters behind for the opportunities that the U.S. provided. As she recounts having to say goodbye to her daughters, tears begin to well up in her eyes. She remembers the moment she had to leave her little girls, how she knew she would never see them grow up, go to school, or attend their first dance.

She quickly composes herself, then turns around and points to one of the women cooking behind her.

“That’s one of my daughters”, she says proudly. The woman gives us the same beaming smile as Guadalupe. Her daughter is not just another chef, but a partner in the business.

The other women in the kitchen with Guadalupe was her mother, who had come to see the business her daughter had built. Guadalupe’s daughter was there as well, working alongside her mother. Three generations of women, together, building a business based upon cultural traditions and hometown flavors.

Guadalupe built her business, El Pipila, from the ground up. She worked almost every job possible in the restaurant business, until one day her friend Alicia told her, “You should just open a restaurant.” From there she built her credit and finances at Mission Asset Fund, went through La Cocina’s incubator program, and received one of MAF’s microloans. When she started her business it was just her. Now, she employs her whole family in one way or another.

Cooking for Guadalupe has always been a family affair, and today was no different. Guadalupe drifts in and out of thought as she talked about how she and her mother would make the tastiest tortillas from scratch and now, she and her daughters do the same.

She fondly remembers all the time spent with her siblings and mother in the kitchen. Each child had a specific duty and would always take the utmost care in completing it. For them food wasn’t just sustenance, it was the love of family made tangible and delicious.

With one of MAF’s microloans, Guadalupe was able to buy equipment and partially pay for a van for her thriving catering business. She is careful to tell us that even though she is doing well now, when she started she thought her catering business would never make it. Her food didn’t immediately catch on so she had to be very patient. It took her a few months, but people started coming to her booth and requesting her for events and dinner parties.

She now dreams of one day having a small food stand, a brick and mortar location that families can come to. When we asked why she is doing this, she looks back at her daughter and says, “I am doing this for her and her sister. I want to make sure that neither of them has to work for anyone but themselves”.

Bruno: Design dream team

Bruno and his wife came to Lending Circles to jump start their graphic design business.

Bruno and his wife, Micaela came to the United States ten years ago with dream of owning their own business. They had years of professional experience as screen printers in Mexico City but with little savings, were worried they wouldn’t be able to see their dream come true. Two separate micro lenders denied Bruno’s applications for a small business loan, both citing his lack of credit history as the reason.

Starting over

After Bruno joined a Lending Circles, his savings and credit score began to increase. In October of 2010 Bruno and Micaela become proud owners of Our Mission Graphics, a custom t-shirt and graphic design store in San Francisco. Eventually, Bruno needed a new vehicle so he applied for a car loan from a local credit union.

When the bank called and told him his credit history qualified him for the loan, he was overjoyed. Bruno says, “I was very happy to know that I had a credit score. I am hoping this car loan will also help me to secure future business loans.”

Our Mission Graphics is growing, but so are the demands of his customers.

“Even if they love a shirt design, if I don’t have the exact color and size in stock, the customer sometimes decides to go elsewhere,” Bruno says.  In the next few years, he hopes to apply for a small business loan to build a larger inventory for Our Mission Graphics, move to a larger location, and hire his first employee.

Luis and Zenaida: A family of chefs

An exhausting work schedule motivated Luis and Zenaida to envision a different future for themselves. Lending Circles helped them get there.

Zenaida and Luis reacted differently when they found out Zenaida was pregnant. While Luis shed joyful tears, Zenaida worried about morning sickness.

“But everything happened to Luis. He was sleepy, he was tired, he was sick – I was fine!” she said.

The spunky thirty-something couple from El Salvador had very different experiences with their fathers.  Luis never really knew his dad, while Zenaida still feels the sting of her father’s passing three years ago.

“I was very close to my father and I wanted the same for Luis and Mateo,” she said.

In 2012, Luis found himself working brutal hours with little time left over for his son, Mateo.  He often worked 14-hour days juggling two jobs as a chef.  Zenaida knew it was just a matter of time before he just couldn’t stand it anymore.

A new business idea

So, the couple started their own business, D’maize Catering, in hopes of spending more time together as a family. They quickly learned that they needed credit to take on bigger orders. But, Zenaida had no credit history because she always paid bills in cash.

Zenaida joined a Lending Circle and established a credit score for the first time, an impressive 750! She qualified for a small loan to invest in a car for the business and plans to apply for more to invest in a commercial kitchen and a home for her family.

Now, the couple has 8 employees and regularly cater events for Silicon Valley companies like Foursquare and at food festivals in San Francisco. They continue to be inspired by their son, Mateo, who also wants to be a chef when he grows up.

“Everyone has a dream, but sometimes you need help,” Luis said. “We’re not special. We did it with help from our community.”

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.

Rave reviews

“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!”