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

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- 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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