Women and Latina's overcoming financial barriers when starting a business thanks to unique program

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Non-profit lender Opportunity Fund offers the Opportunity Fund Empowering Women program for women wanting to start businesses.

Mexican American comfort food will soon be served from Yolanda Garcia's new food trailer-- Yo Mommas!

"Every time you come to my house there is food. This is what I do. This is my passion. This is what I love to do. It's like anybody that loves to do a sport."

Garcia is the owner of Yo Mommas! and quit her job to pursue her dream of feeding others. She was recently helped by non-profit lender Opportunity Fund with the Opportunity Fund Empowering Women program.

The Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation is partnering to educate, mentor, and provide access to capital for women-owned small businesses.

Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation CEO Dora Westerlund said, "I know there are a lot of women out there that are at home and they're doing something that maybe is a hobby, but it could turn into a business if they would like it to. We are here to support them and help them start their business or expand their business."

Westerlund said the loans can start at $5,000 and go up to $100,000 plus. If they qualify, they can get a two-percent reduction rate.

Latina businesses have grown 137-percent since 2006, but many of them face challenges with funding. Lilian Arizola runs Senjor Aji Peruvian in Northwest Fresno now but remembers having a rough start.

"It was really hard because it was a startup business. We went to so many different places, banks, trying to get a loan to start our dream. Everybody was like no you can't."

They applied to a microloan program and were able to start their business and pay for equipment.

As for Garcia, she feels like she is living a dream come true.

To date, the program has helped about 50 women including Yolanda start their business or access resources. The Empowering Women campaign is available now.
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