Cristina Sanchez – Corn El Compadre

A Mexican family tradition crossed the border and has become a successful business selling corn and Chihuahua-style esquites. Cristina Sanchez and her husband began to sell corn cocktails, as they call them, among acquaintances and friends, but they did not imagine that It would lead them to create their own company.

Corn “El Compadre” is a business that emerged a year ago to meet the demand for esquites at events and birthdays. It has been such a success that a couple of months ago they had to formally register the business.

The success of the esquites

Esquites are a Mexican snack that consists of corn grains prepared with cream, cheese, chile, and lime. It is sold in all the states of Mexico and Cristina Sánchez makes them with her husband’s family recipe. The esquites are usually consumed in public places like parks and churches, but the Sanchez family prepares them to take to private parties in Phoenix.

Next challenge

For Corn “El Compadre” it’s next step is to open its own place so that the public who wants to consume esquites in the Phoenix area does not have to wait for a party or public event. At this moment they are working on the search for a place and developing the business plan.

The impact of the WBC

Cristina Sanchez learned about the Women’s Business Center (WBC) through the Mexican Consulate. She enrolled in the Dream Builder program and later in the business mentoring group. “I’ve loved it, they make you see things you don’t know, a lot of support and learning, I feel more prepared than before,” said this entrepreneur on her experience with Prestamos CDFI.

The support of Prestamos CDFI 

Mrs. Sánchez says she is very grateful for all the services and information she received through the various small business support programs from Prestamos CDFI. They helped her develop a business plan and register her LLC at no cost to her. She learned to plan her day-to-day, manage her emotions and balance her work and family time. She is already considering applying for a business loan.

Dr. Jayashri Sarkar – ImagiNexGen Institute of Excellence

Dr. Jayashri Sarkar is an immigrant from India. She came to USA to pursue her graduate degree. She has a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Rhode Island. She is an inventor specializing in nanotechnology. She has developed 2 patents her inventions. After the death of her parents, she started the ImagiNexGen Institute of Excellence, in 2022, to help people overcome emotional challenges through the different transitions in life and profession.

Grief and pain

Doctor Sarkar is an energetic and positive human being. But the death of her parents led her to feel hopeless, with mixed feelings and in a place where she did not want to be. It was then that she asked herself, what do I want to do? How do I want to live my life? That is when she started her initiative.

The daily routine

Jay Sarkar developed a tool of 5 activities that she does daily: pray, read, exercise, express emotions and be honest with her feelings. This led her to create her 12-week mentorship program. She says that “in a way, the industry chose me to start this initiative”. She admires the strength of her parents and how they lived. This inspires her daily to follow in their footsteps to share the education they gave her with the people around her. Her life is dedicated to educating people to grow their self-worth and confidence.

Main challenges

The biggest challenge for Dr. Sarkar is working in a new industry while also grieving the loss of her parents. Also, she believes it is a relatively challenging journey to market services rather than products. For her, her business is developing resilience and developing “personal engineering”. In her scientific career, she worked with the strength of materials to develop technologies, and now she works with people to develop their personal strengths to help them live to their fullest.

Relation with CPLC

Dr. Sarkar was introduced to the Prestamos Women’s Business Center by the Program Manager of Prestamos WBC – Laura Suarez. They met at a women’s business summit held by BBB. Dr. Sarkar participated in the Dream Builder program to develop her business plan. In the future, the ImagiNexGen Institute of Excellence will offer its services to women entrepreneurs, business owners, college students, and the military in transition. She also is planning to hire 2 part-time employees.

Liz Cervantes – High-End Reclaimed

We’ve all heard stories of people turning their hobby into a profitable business, this is precisely what happened to Liz Cervantes in 2022 with her furniture refinishing business, High-End Reclaimed.

Recognition of her work

After receiving very good compliments for renovating some furniture for her own house, she began to do her first jobs to sell through social media posting photos of her finished pieces. Now she visits several places in search of furniture that can be renovated, because she made it very clear that not every piece of furniture can go through the renovating process, they must be made of wood or metal.

All her “hats”

Liz Cervantes still works full-time in a banking institution, at the same time she is starting this business in her own garage and she is the mother of two teenagers, that is why her biggest challenge is to have enough time to fulfill all her responsibilities and grow her business. Her greatest motivation is to work with her own hands and see the finished work, which can be indoor furniture in wood or outdoor furniture in metal.

Next steps

Mrs. Cervantes plans to find a space or warehouse to do the renovation work and even said that she is planning to have her own place to sell her furniture. At this time, she is working with Prestamos CDFI and the Women’s Business Center (WBC) to improve her social media presence and create her own website. She also participates in a mentoring program for women entrepreneurs and already finished the Dream Builder Program to develop her business plan.

ImagiNexGen Institute of Excellence

Jayashri Sarkar

Jayashri Sarkar has a Ph.D. in chemistry and specializes in nanotechnology, she even has her own patents for some inventions, however, after the death of her parents, she started an emotional mentoring business in 2022, ImagiNexGen Institute of Excellence.

Dr. Sarkar used to be a very energetic and positive woman, but the death of her parents led her to feel hopeless, with mixed feelings, and in a place where she did not want to be, it was then that she asked herself, what do you want to do? Then she started this business project. Jay Sarkar developed a tool of 5 activities that she does daily: pray, read, exercise, express emotions and be honest with her feelings. This led her to create her 8-week Business Growth Mentorship Program in collaboration with the Prestamos Women’s Business Center, “this industry chose me to start this business” she said.

The Business Growth Mentorship Program (BGMP) was created after hearing hundreds of women entrepreneurs’ stories and realizing that many faced similar challenges; limited knowledge, lack of confidence, and fear of failure. These women needed support which led Dr. Sarkar to research what could be the cause. Her research found that many of these challenges were a result of inadequate entrepreneurial education. Women entrepreneurs have unique needs and they need to be addressed properly to succeed.

The program was designed to directly address these issues. It helps women cultivate existing skills and further expand the core competencies necessary to make their businesses successful. Participants develop the right mindset to make decisive, quality business decisions that then impacts our economy and our world. BGMP places an emphasis on helping participants with managing stress, grow confidence and form a work-life balance. This is done by combining education, an online support system, workshops, and proprietary tools. Graduates of the program can expect to gain: clarity in their business, confidence in themselves as entrepreneurs, work-life harmony, happiness & purposefulness about their business, and commitment to their goals.

After graduating from the BGMP, women can continue to expect support. Participants will receive it through the BGMP Support Network. It engages graduates by connecting them with other ambitious women and providing a safe space. They can collaborate with one another on finding solutions to problems, such as accessing funding. There will be monthly working sessions that help them to move forward and capitalize on what they have learned through the BGMP program. As more women finish the program and accomplish their goals, more women can then become speakers at BGMP events and become mentors to new cohorts.

For those interested in the next cohort of the class, the Business Growth Mentorship Program will be available twice a year–in the fall and spring. If you or anyone you know is interested in participating in the program, kindly fill out the BGMP Interest form: Selection for interviews will start in the late 2023 summer.

Hear what the first cohort of women entrepreneurs had to say about the program:

“I was able to bring just an idea closer to reality.”

“I’m able to make decisive/actionable plans and execute.”

“It helped a lot to focus my mindset and to only focus on 3 priorities for my business but as I moved forward with what I thought was necessary to begin turns out I needed other things to focus on first before I could complete what I thought I needed to do.”