AUSTIN, Texas - This week, the owners of La Cocina de Consuelo and Comadre Panaderia got an incredible surprise from the team at Austin-based Siete Foods: $15,000 and $10,000 grants to continue bringing comfort and nourishment to their customers.
"The Latino community in the business sector is typically underserved and underrepresented," Linda Garza, general council for Siete Family Foods, said. "We know how important it is to have access to funding."
Siete opened the Juntos Fund three years ago, with the goal of giving away $2 million over the next five years.
"In this nation, there are over 2 million businesses with Latina founders, but Latinas only receive 2 percent of venture capital funds," Garza said. "We can help them find success."
For women like Leticia Garcia and Mariela Camacho, working with food is all their immigrant families had.
"Restaurants is just where you go to work," Camacho, owner of Comadre Panaderia, said. "I grew up in restaurants, grew up working with food."
Comadre Panaderia, a bakery on the east side of Austin, is serving pan dulce, croissants and cookies, all based on recipes rich with the history of her family coming to the United States.
"It was really created out of survival," Comacho said.
"They started coming from Mexico in 1960," Garcia, owner of La Cocina de Consuelo, said. "Since then, they have been very very hard working persons."
Garcia's Aunt Consuelo, who came to be known as Connie in the U.S., opened La Cocina de Consuelo. She passed away in February.
"When I think about my aunt, I really admire her work," Garcia said. "The good thing is that she taught me how to be strong, and to know how to handle different problems that come out in the restaurant."
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Her memory, and the hard work of the generations before them, push their family to keep going.
"The next generation, we're trying out best," Garcia said. "I feel so proud."
"These particular businesses, the ones here in Austin, and really all the nine that were chosen, I think the one thing that stood out across all of them was how much of an inspiration they are," said Veronica Garza, co-founder of Siete Foods. "Their understanding of the impact that they can have on themselves, their families and future generations of Latinos."