Rosa Guerrero, California Vegan Food Company

Rosa Guerrero Contreras had a dream of launching her own plant-based food business for the last five years. What started as a hobby soon became a passion, but Rosa wasn’t quite sure of how to convert that passion into a business. Last spring, Rosa joined Centro’s Basic Entrepreneurship Program to launch California Vegan Food Company (CVFC).

Koy Saichow, Stony Point Strawberry Farm

Koy Saichow grew up in a subsistence farming community in Thailand, where each season relatives, friends and neighbors would come together to harvest in their family’s vegetable and rice fields. When the Saichow family immigrated to the Bay Area in 1989, they brought along their values of self-sufficiency and generosity and continued to grow Southeast Asian vegetables in their backyard for themselves and their neighbors.

Pancho Kachingwe, The Hatch

Pancho Kachingwe founded The Hatch Oakland Bar & Restaurant in 2014 to cater to a booming downtown Oakland. “Everything was self-funded,” he recalls. “It was myself doing the cooking, bartending, cleaning, shopping, everything.” But the business grew fast, and by year two, he had 18 employees.

Robin King, Rene TreVor Jewelry

Robin King always dreamed of having her own business but never imagined it would come from such tragic circumstances. On the same day that she lost her mother to her battle against cancer, her 25-year-old son’s life was also taken. But part of her healing came through creativity. Not long after their deaths, Robin began making keepsake jewelry for herself and a few family members as a way of dealing with their recent losses and to keep their loved ones close. In loving memory of her mother and son, the name and concept for her business were conceived. 

Brenda Buenviaje, Brenda’s French Soul Food

Brenda Buenviaje had worked as a chef for years but lacked business experience. When she wanted to open her own restaurant in 2007, not just banks turned her down but “friends, co-workers, my own parents were like, ‘No thank you,’” she said. Opportunity Fund said yes, taking out a lien against her condo to secure the $100,000 loan.

Donald Jacko Sr., DAD Services

DAD Services of Oakland, California is a janitorial company that specializes in providing top-notch commercial cleaning for San Francisco Bay Area businesses. The company was established in 1998 by Donald Jacko Sr., a native Oakland resident, and has always been a minority-owned, family-run business. DAD Services serves a diverse group of clients including medical institutions, investigative services, and security companies at their various locations. As part of his business philosophy, DAD Services aims to employ disadvantaged people, particularly formerly incarcerated individuals.

Rosario Sotelo and Rodnia Attiq, El Borrego

Mother-and-daughter Rosario Sotelo and Rodnia Attiq are the owners of El Borrego, the first restaurant in San Diego to serve lamb barbacoa. While El Borrego is now a full-service restaurant, they started out very small almost fifteen years ago by selling barbacoa under a tent in a driveway on the weekends. By word-of-mouth, Rosario and Rodnia’s customers started telling their friends about “El Borrego,” which means “the lamb.”

Manuel Guerrero, Hope Cafe and Creperie

Manuel Guerrero grew up surrounded by a family of entrepreneurs. He embraced this spirit and chose to pursue his entrepreneurial passion through his love of food. After attending culinary school in Mexico where he focused on international cuisine, Manuel furthered his learning by completing a barista training program in Seattle, Washington.

Maria Harrington, Casa de Español

Before Maria Harrington was a business owner or even a teacher, she was a student at Berkeley exploring a question: How are indigenous cultures changing in terms of language and culture, given mass migration to the US? In her research, she followed a connection to Chiapas, the southernmost state in Mexico. There, she lodged with the indigenous family of a friend in their jungle community.

Marcia Charles, Pinky Rose Boutique

Marcia Charles has worked in fashion for her whole life. When Marcia was 15-years-old, she started working at department store warehouses in the Bronx. Over the next 35 years, Marcia grew into a self-taught fashion designer and merchandiser, and eventually a self-made small business owner.