News Column

Nonprofit Helps Entrepreneurs Secure Future

July 3, 2013

Staff -- HispanicBusiness

Margarita Ruiz, business owner of Ricos Tacos Doña Mari. (Courtesy photo by Michael Connors.)
Margarita Ruiz, business owner of Ricos Tacos Doña Mari. (Courtesy photo by Michael Connors.)

Oak View Renewal Partnership in Huntington Beach, Calif., and Goodwill of Orange County created a micro-enterprise program that will help entrepreneurs fulfill their dreams.

Founded in 2005, OVRP makes it its business to narrow the gap between Oak View residents and the rest of Huntington Beach while serving as a model for community development. Of Oak View's 10,000 residents, 92 percent are Hispanic.

The micro-enterprise development program is one element of OVRP's Workforce Development Initiative led by its director, Patrice Mariscal, who has worked for years as a consultant on life-skills development in Hispanic communities.

The idea is to address Oak View's high unemployment rate by implementing a job readiness program for young adults and another for older adults, among other initiatives. OVRP hopes to attract the support of a national foundation over multiple years to fully realize the potential of the Workforce Development Initiative.

About 10 Oak View residents went through the micro-enterprise program. One business has become fully operational and will serve as an example for others to follow.

That business is Margarita Ruiz's Ricos Tacos Doņa Mari -- named for Ruiz's mother, who supplies the secret recipes -- has doubled its revenues within three months of completing the program. OVRP also helped Ricos Tacos become fully licensed and incorporated.

Ruiz was already helping run a catering business with her family, but the OVRP and Goodwill micro-enterprise program gave them an extra edge. OVRP provided $2,000 in seed money -- a $1,000 loan and a $1,000 grant. The small business is now on its own two feet without any additional funding, supporting the tax base with steady, profitable catering jobs throughout the city and county.

"We were about to give up on all this," Ruiz said. "Then we took the classes and saw a different perspective. We saw that we could do it if we tried and that we now had the resources to help us."

Following Ricos Tacos Doņa Mari's success, OVRP has developed a "best practice" model and is ready to help more residents become business owners.

"We've seen that Oak View residents have a natural entrepreneurial spirit," said OVRP Executive Director Iosefa Alofaituli. "Why not use the micro-loan model here that's proven successful in international development? At the end of the day, people don't want your money. They want your commitment."

Source: (c) 2013. All rights reserved.

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