Family Needs Met by Entrepreneurship

Maria Alvarado opened Alvarado’s Tax Services in 2006. Driven by the need for a more flexible schedule, Alvarado has built a successful business and won the Women and Company Microenterprise Boost Program award from the Center’s REAP program.

Maria Alvarado
Maria Alvarado moved her home-based business to a much more visible storefront office thanks to a $2000 Women & Company Microenterprise Boost Program award from the Center for Rural Affair's REAP program.
In 2005 Maria Alvarado faced a dilemma. She needed to generate more income than her $13 an hour job at a wireless company could provide, but she also needed the flexibility to be there for her five children. She realized that self-employment was her best option, and she opened Alvarado’s Tax Services in January 2006.

Until recently, Maria’s business operated out of her home and offered help with tax preparation and translation services. As Alvarado’s Tax Services started to grow, Maria wanted to learn how to better manage her business and looked to the Center for Rural Affairs’ REAP Women’s Business Center for help.

Maria enrolled in several of REAP’s business training courses including Computer Basics, E-commerce and QuickBooks. She also met with a business specialist mentor and participates in roundtable meetings with other REAP business owner clients. “REAP has helped me a lot with advice and classes. If it had not been for this program, I don’t think that I would have all the knowledge and resources I have now,” says Maria.

Alvarado’s Tax Service made the move from Maria’s home to a much more visible and accessible storefront thanks to the $2000 Women and Company Microenterprise Boost Program award she received from REAP. The award also allowed her to expand the services she offers. She enrolled in accounting classes and plans to offer small business bookkeeping services in the near future.

The storefront is a much more professional setting for Maria’s business and has helped her attract more customers. Since making the move, she estimates her client base has increased by about 20 percent, and she anticipates increases in revenue. Since receiving the award, Maria has hired a part-time tax advisor who assists with immigration forms and provides translation services.

The award came at a perfect time for Maria. She says, “I was very excited and happy, because with that extra money I was able to keep my business growing.” In early 2009, Maria renamed her business Columbus American Services. She added full Travel Agency services and Money Transfer services.

REAP is a microenterprise development program of the Center for Rural Affairs that works with startup and existing small businesses with five or fewer employees in Nebraska on a statewide rural basis. REAP is the largest full-service microenterprise development program in Nebraska (rural or urban) and strives to serve all of the state’s rural areas. Find out more at