Meet Prospera’s Entrepreneur
Pilar Rengifo, born in Bogota, Colombia, began her journey towards entrepreneurship after completing her degree in Marketing and Advertising, followed by a postgraduate degree in business in her home country. In 1999, Pilar relocated to the United States with her husband and two children, settling in California. Initially, she found work as a babysitter to support her family.
In 2001, Pilar joined the Palo Alto Unified School District as a school bus driver for special needs children, where she has dedicated the last 20 years of her professional life.
Despite her successful career as a school bus driver, Pilar faced health problems due to a lack of gluten-free, nutritious food options. As a result, she decided to channel her spare time between 9-11 a.m. and 4:30-6:30 p.m. into a gluten-free and Colombian cheese bread baked goods venture.
In 2016, Pilar launched her business with a name that pays homage to the Quechua Indians of South America. She aptly named her business “The Choclo” as a tribute to the way in which the Quechua people refer to corn. Pilar’s commitment to creating a product that is accessible and appealing to a wide range of customers is evident in the name she chose for her business. Pilar also recognizes that without God’s help, The Choclo would not have been possible. She is grateful to God for the opportunity to pursue her dreams and for the blessings that have allowed her to turn her passion into a successful business.
In 2019, Pilar’s project was recognized as one of the top three Latina women’s projects. She participated in a boot camp sponsored by Univision, Televisa, and Eva Longoria, further fueling her entrepreneurial spirit.
In 2022, Prospera selected Pilar to participate in their Acompaña (Accompany) program. Through this program, she receives invaluable support, advice, and tools to grow The Choclo.
By February 2023, Pilar’s hard work and dedication paid off, as she was selected to participate in Prospera’s prestigious Fellowship program. This opportunity provides Pilar with the guidance and expertise needed to take The Choclo to the next level, including expanding her business from her home to a traditional storefront and launching an industry of Colombian products.
Ultimately, Pilar’s goal is to create a cooperative that will assist Colombian migrants in establishing their businesses.
Steph Brews Coffee
Hola, my name is Stephanie (Steph) Segovia. I am a multi-generational immigrant, born in
Southern California but raised in El Salvador. Coffee is more than a beverage for me; coffee
is part of my culture and family. Growing up in El Salvador surrounded by coffee mountains
and drinking coffee as a kid was the perfect match to make me a coffee expert. Before I
became a coffee entrepreneur and connoisseur, I worked as a nonprofit and educational
leader in the Bay Area, including the counties of Santa Clara, Alameda, San Francisco,
San Mateo, and Sonoma. Plus, I am proudly a first-generation college graduate from
Sonoma State University, University of San Francisco, and UC Irvine. And yes, I drank too
many cups of coffee to #pick-me-up.
During the pandemic, I took care of myself by brewing a caffeinated idea, “Steph Brews
Coffee,” a social media platform where I have been sharing my experience of brewing
coffee and becoming a coffee connoisseur. In 2021 I took a 4 month trip back to el
Salvador to get my Specialty Coffee Certifications in Green Coffee, Brewing, Latte Art, and
Sensory. In addition, I have mastered the art of roasting coffee, working as a coffee roaster
at Nirvana Soul Coffee in San Jose, CA.
I am taking my coffee passion along with my professional background in education to
elevate the work of all coffee professionals, especially coffee farmers. In 2023, Steph Brews
Coffee will launch its first coffee workshop series. These coffee workshops will focus on the
origins of coffee, the stories of coffee farmers, and the work of all coffee professionals who
ensure you can enjoy your cup of coffee. Plus, it will make you a coffee expert being able to
find, brew, and sip the best specialty coffees at home. I hope you can come along on this
journey full of adventures, new places, and the tastiest cups of coffee!
I am proud and honored to be part of the new Prospera Fellowship Cohort. As a Fellow,
Steph Brews Coffee and I are committed to supporting other entrepreneurs seeking to grow
their coffee businesses! Si eres una emprendedora o dueña de negocio de café te invito a
tomar una taza de café y colaborar juntas en nuestros proyectos.
¡Disfruta tu cafecito!
Enjoy your cup!
Meet Prospera’s Entrepreneur
Martha Franco proudly Latina, born in Mexico and raised in the Bay Area since she was a child, has worked in family businesses and sought her development without forgetting her culture. She is passionate about supporting her community; in 2017 she became one of the initiators of Doulas Telar and in 2018 she had the joy of becoming a grandmother. All this led her to fall more in love with her profession and look for ways to align her passions of helping her community and her work. Most recently, she has managed to found Casa Doulas, where she trains and supports Latina Doulas and moms, so they can have a safe and accompanied childbirth. She has joined her voice to the fight for the law so that the Doula is recognized as a profession. Martha dreams of seeing more and more doulas trained and recognized as a profession because this is what fills her heart.
Jenny Conejo is the founder of Karany Arts, a business dedicated to supporting sustainable livelihoods for Indigenous communities through the marketing of artisanal products from Latin America. She has been a longtime participant in Prospera and is currently in the process of restructuring her business to have a dual focus on wholesale and retail through an online storefront.
Jenny’s story is one of resilience and persistence. When the pandemic began, Jenny had already reserved her spot in her usual 12 fairs throughout California to sell her artisan products. The 2020 fairs were all canceled, and many could not refund the money she had invested to hold her spot. In 2021 fairs were canceled as well. With no income entering from her business, Jenny focused on working elsewhere in order to survive. However, she held onto her business and her dream of making it grow. At the end of 2021, Jenny applied for the Fellowship and became a Fellow.
Jenny is working with a consultant to create a business plan for the growth of Karany Arts and is also receiving coaching to improve her financial management skills. In November, she held a virtual store via Facebook Live and showcased her products in the Levantando Nuestras Voces Coalition’s Mercadito Virtual.
Meet Prospera’s Entrepreneur
Celia Alvarez was born in Guadalajara, México and is the single mother of two young students. She came to the U.S. at 19 years old in search of the American Dream and quickly realized that without preparation it would be very difficult to achieve her goals. She started studying ESL at night and eventually at school during the day until she got her GED. She began her path as a promoter in 2008 with Sacred Heart Community Service helping to facilitate collective actions, as a spokesperson for the media, and sharing testimonies to repeal policies such as the seizure of cars from people without driver’s licenses. In 2010, she joined SOMOS Mayfair—an organization focused on the development of community leadership—as a participant in support groups and parenting workshops. Soon she was invited to be a facilitator. Her leadership is developing little by little as she earns different certifications within the organization, advocating for parents and students in the school district, demanding affordable housing from the city, and always fighting for equity and justice for underprivileged immigrants. At the same time, she was collaborating with organizations like Bring Me a Book and Literacy Lab showing parents of young children the positive impact of starting literacy early.
Celia always wanted to be in control of her time and work. In 2016 SOMOS Mayfair gave her the opportunity to make her dream come true by incubating a cooperative business with 20 other women, of which she was a member for two years. Upon leaving, she founded a second cooperative called De Colores Consulting with three other friends using her own resources and experience. De Colores helps organizations whose main focus is working with the Latino immigrant community by doing grassroots organizing, workshops, focus groups, outreach and interpretation.
Celia’s hopes for her Fellowship:
“Having been chosen as a Fellow in the Prospera program, I seek to take my cooperative to the next level of clientele, capacity and income. With an openness and eagerness to learn what is necessary for my business, I feel excited (and a little nervous, too) about making the commitment to represent De Colores, but I am determined to do whatever it takes to achieve my growth goals.”
Meet Prospera’s Entrepreneur
Ana is from Michoacan, Mexico where she lived until 1996 when she came to California. She is the proud mother of Metzli, Alitzel and Erendira. She has worked with the LGBT and immigrant communities through activism. She previously worked as a teacher in rural areas throughout various Mexican regions. She also began a cooperative in 2014, which she ended two years later. She is now in the beginning stages of starting a second coop for childcare in the Bay Area, The Nanny Collective. She has five years experience as a nanny and has grown very passionate about being a nurturing presence in the lives of children which is what is motivating this next entrepreneurial endeavor.
At the age of 20 Anahi was on track to study law and was working for a local politician in Mexico when she decided to migrate to the United States. Her plan was to return with enough financial resources to develop college student housing in her hometown and help address critical issues her peers were experiencing such as drug addiction. In the U.S. she started out working in bakeries, grocery stores and restaurants where she experienced exploitative working conditions. She then spent the next several years as a worker-owner for various house cleaning cooperatives in the San Francisco Bay Area where she pursued every possible learning opportunity for developing a business. One of those opportunities has been with Prospera, a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing Latina-owned worker cooperatives. In 2017 Anahi launched Professional Eco-clean, an eco-friendly house cleaning business that is dedicated to the personal and professional development of its employees. All this time she has continued to provide financial and moral support to her family in Mexico, which has led to her mother launching a stationery store. Today, in addition to growing her business, she presents workshops for emerging Latina entrepreneurs on developing businesses with cooperative values. She is also actively engaged in feminist movements in Mexico and the United States, and is in the process of developing a social enterprise that has an explicit feminist mission. She is the proud mother of two with whom she instills her entrepreneurial and feminist values. She continues aiming for a life that has deep roots in both Mexico and the United States.
Nancy Rosales is a Bay Area native and a first generation Mexican American whose parents migrated to Watsonville to pick strawberries through the Bracero program. Pepitos Paletas began in 2007 as an ice cream company. The business later transitioned to paletas when Nancy realized that there wasn’t a choice for organic and authentic paletas in the area. She is a vibrant and determined entrepreneur with so much creativity that shines through her product. Nancy aspires to involve many more Latina women in her project to expand the model and be present with paletas in all the corners of the Bay Area. She values authentic traditions and makes sure that every paleta flavor is connected to her Mexican roots. The paletas are all abuelita (grandma) approved!