Ana Gonzalez, of Grand Island, Nebraska, was named the Center for Rural Affairs’ 2016 Latino Business Center Entrepreneur of the Year award. She was recognized at an award dinner on March 10 in York, Nebraska.
The Latino Business Center Entrepreneur of the Year Award is presented annually to an entrepreneur who has effectively utilized the services of the Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP) Latino Business Center, is successfully operating and growing their business, and who best exemplifies the entrepreneurial spirit that is so crucial to Latino-owned businesses and the rural Nebraska communities they call home.
Ana opened The Enchanted Bakery in 2008, baking cakes in her home in Hastings. She took deliveries to clients in Grand Island twice a day because all of the cakes would not all fit in her car. She received a REAP loan for the purchase of a van, cutting her trips to one per day.
“Ana was very excited to work with us and to receive technical assistance and training in addition to her loan,” said Juan Sandoval, REAP Latino Business Center director. “Her bakery’s mission is an enchanted experience for every bite her customers take. These are cakes you won’t find in any other store.”
REAP Latino loan specialist Griselda Rendon began working with Ana in 2014. The baker was working out of her basement at the time.
“She decided to look into moving her bakery to Grand Island,” Griselda said. “She basically started from ground zero with the building an empty shell. We helped her and guided her through the process.”
In November 2015, Ana received a second REAP loan to move the bakery to a storefront in Grand Island. Since opening in Grand Island, her sales have tripled.
“The business has been very successful,” Griselda said. “She participates in a lot of REAP trainings and does an excellent job of following recommendations. That’s why I think she’s so successful as a business owner.”
Ana has participated in the Nebraska Passport Program, and has also been featured on television and in magazine articles. She participates in REAP’s Coffee Tables, a training for entrepreneurs, and continues to receive counseling for her accounting needs.
“For Ana, the bakery is a dream that became a reality,” Sandoval said.
At the award dinner, Ana thanked REAP for all the help she’s received.
“Thank you for the opportunity that’s provided to all the Latino entrepreneurs,” Ana said through Griselda who was translating. “You believe in their dreams and make their dreams come true.”
Feature photo: Ana Gonzalez, center, is pictured with Juan Sandoval, REAP Latino Business Center director, and Griselda Rendon, REAP Latino loan specialist, at the award dinner on March 10 in York.