Entrepreneur Profile

Entrepreneur Profile

How to Run a Business with Your Significant Other

Owning a business can be stressful…especially, if you're running a business with your significant other. How do people do it? Many of AnewAmerica’s clients are married and co-own businesses – we interviewed a couple of them to find out how they make it work!

Let’s Recognize…it’s HARD WORK and it’s WORTH IT!

We interviewed two AnewAmerica business couples – Maria Cristina & Marcelo Mauri, Mauri Concrete Construction, and Christian Perez & Ana Lilia Heredia, Cortez Catering. Both couples agreed that owning a business together is a difficult, but grand adventure.

Christian and Ana Lilia just started their catering business less than two years ago, are still working full time jobs, and raising two young boys. Even grabbing a cup of coffee together can be a big deal. Maria and Marcelo, owners of Mauri Concrete, a more established business, spend most of their time growing the business together. As Maria put it, “(Y)ou have to have patience.” Check out the following tips on how these couples make it work!

Cortez Catering 

“The best thing is that we are achieving this dream together, and we’ll be together to embrace the success.” – Ana Lilia Heredia

Tips for Running a Business with Your Partner

Interested in starting a business with your significant other? Before starting on that adventure, do your business and relationship a favor by doing the following:


Agree on the big things so that you both are reaching for the same goals. Sometimes couples and business partners argue and get stuck on big and small issues. What color should the walls be? Who should we hire? Having clearly articulated, agreed upon goals makes working as a team easier and helps couples stay motivated because you can celebrate your successes together.


After you agree on common goals, set up a game plan. This recognizes that everyone has their own set of strengths and helps keep both parties moving forward without dealing with feelings of unfairness or resentment. One piece of key advice is to make time for each other and create an environment for open communication.


In business, you learn a lot about yourself and your significant other, helping to strengthen your partnership in all aspects of life. Ana Lilia, of Cortez Catering, discovered that she was more capable of running a business than she thought and credited that to her teamwork with her husband. Cristina, from Mauri Concrete, learned that her and her partner shared lots of “ganas para progresar” (ambition to advance in life) and used that shared drive to agree on the big things and enjoy their life together both in business and on a personal level. Being an entrepreneur is not for everyone and though the journey is difficult, it can be fun and enlightening sharing it with your life partner.

Mauri Concrete Construction


The biggest advantage to running a business with your partner is that you are constantly pushing each other to be better and achieve more. Accessing resources like AnewAmerica's helps business owners stay on track to grow their businesses and manage their finances.

Cortez Catering’s first step was to connect with AnewAmerica where they received the business development and asset building training to support their dream of starting a family owned business. With clear goals and action plan, they recently received a $3,000 interest free loan from Kiva to expand their business.

Mauri Concrete recently completed AnewAmerica matched savings program for business capitalization. This helped build up their savings and savings behaviors while also providing a down payment for new equipment to expand their current services. AnewAmerica’s program provided them with a solid plan to ensure that they continue to grow their business of 16 employees and financial assets.

AnewAmerica thanks Ana Lilia & Christian as well as Maria & Marcelo for sharing these great tips!

If you’re interested in learning more about AnewAmerica Community Corporation or any of our programs, visit anewamerica.org or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Healthy Community, Healthy Economy

Pioneer Entrepreneur of the Year

At this year's EXPO, AnewAmerica proudly introduced the Pioneer Entrepreneur of the Year Award - a brand new award for entrepreneurs dedicated to pioneering innovative business models. We honored Elisabeth Cruz, owner of Benitez Produce and outstanding pioneer in the establishment and growth of the Fresh Carts Silicon Valley program in San Jose.

Elisabeth Cruz being presented with the Pioneer Entrepreneur of the Year 2015 Award

Elisabeth Cruz, Benitez Produce (Good.To.Go. Fresh Cart) & her family being presented with the 2015 Pioneer Entrepreneur of the Year Award by The Health Trust COO, Todd Hansen, joined by AnewAmerica CEO, Viola Gonzales, AnewAmerica Board Chair, Steve Dial, and EXPO emcee, Univision Host, Kira Vilanova.

Elisabeth’s success is attributed to her talent, tenacity, and commitment to this new program that utilizes cross-sector approaches in addressing health, social, and economic issues. The Health Trust, as part of its Healthy Eating Initiative, launched The Fresh Carts Silicon Valley Program, to increase access to healthy foods in low‑income neighborhoods while creating income generating opportunities. AnewAmerica proudly manages the entrepreneurial training and technical business assistance components of the program, training local residents to own and operate their own mobile fruit and vegetable carts. Elisabeth completed the program in 2014 and has since created a livelihood for her family and championed the cause for healthier food options in food deserts like the one where she lives.

“I started with the Fresh Carts project because I am concerned about the health of my family and my community. Our community suffers greatly from diabetes. Our community needs and deserves better food options to prevent these illnesses, especially for our children.”- Elisabeth Cruz on why she started her own Fresh Cart.

Find out more about all of our 2015 Award recipients here.

Julio Leiva, Socially Conscious Entrepreneur

Today, we celebrate AnewAmerica entrepreneur, Julio Leiva, owner of Lotus Cleaning Services, a flourishing green cleaning business that employs over 40 individuals in the East Bay.

Prior to joining AnewAmerica's program, Julio found himself starting from scratch in a new country with little capital and limited proficiency in English - but armed with a dream and determination.

Originally from El Salvador, Julio immigrated to the United States during the Salvadorean Civil War. Though he had obtained an advanced degree and owned a business in his country of origin, he had to start over when he came to the U.S.


Since becoming a client, AnewAmerica has provided Julio with the tools he has needed to realize his dreams of starting a business and becoming a successful, socially-responsible entrepreneur.

Key milestones in Julio's Entrepreneurial Journey:

  • Graduated from one of AnewAmerica's first business planning cohorts in 2002
  • Developed green methods of cleaning, with AnewAmerica's guidance
  • Received AnewAmerica Green Business Certification
  • Quickly started to experience 25-30% growth per year
  • Employed others, paying them well above minimum wage

Now successful with 42 employees and annual robust sales, Julio gives back to AnewAmerica by mentoring other entrepreneurs. He trains people in business practices and green cleaning methods - both one-on-one and in AnewAmerica workshops.

Julio says, "It is not like me to have a business that doesn't have some level of social responsibility. And it must be combined with a lot of ethics, professionalism, and high quality service."

We are proud of Julio's accomplishments! Help us continue to strengthen communities through entrepreneurship and donate this May 5th via East Bay Gives 2015!

Ernesto and Mireya, Chef-Entrepreneurs


Ernesto Prada and Mireya Baez, a husband-wife team, run one of San Jose's beloved neighborhood institutions - Milohas Bakery. Milohas's local fame centers on its delicious empanadas and its family-centered environment.

Ernesto and Mireya started their first bakery in Colombia, but a deep economic crisis caused them to move to the United States in search of opportunity. They never gave up on the dream of opening Milohas. With AnewAmerica's support, they accomplished the following:

  • Graduated from AnewAmerica's business planning class in 2012
  • Received AnewAmerica Green Business Certification in 2012
  • Secured a business grant of $1,900 to purchase a commercial oven

By 2014, they were ready to find a storefront. For this, AnewAmerica helped them obtain a $25,000 commercial loan from Heritage Bank of Commerce.
Today, Ernesto and Mireya have:

  • Created a total of 3 full-time jobs and 7 part-time jobs
  • Rapidly increased sales

Milohas Bakery continues to thrive and expand. Mireya says, "The advice that I give is to always strive for what you want - persevere, and work with faith and discipline."

"AnewAmerica helped us with everything... in how to start and manage a business, how to manage finances, the administration..." - Ernesto Prada

Help us continue to strengthen families through entrepreneurship! Donate to Silicon Valley Gives 2015 on May 5th!

Dori Duncan, Youth-Focused Fashion Entrepreneur

Throughout March, we highlighted Xochitl Guerrero, Lourdes & Fatima Lara, and Penny Baldado - women who pursued and achieved their entrepreneurial dreams. Today, we feature our final #WomensHistoryMonth entrepreneur, Dori Duncan, a fashion designer who translated her talents into a successful start-up with the help of AnewAmerica. Camp Fashionista provides a place where children and young adults of all skill levels learn how to create and sew their own designs.

Business Name: Camp Fashionista
Type of Business: Design school for children and young adults
Location: San Jose

Dori Duncan owns and operates Camp Fashionista, a flourishing design school for children and young adults. In San Jose since 2010, Camp Fashionista fills the gap for young people who want to get trained on the craft of sewing and clothes creation. Dori runs workshops and classes that are accessible to learners of all ages.

Dori considers herself a role model for young people interested in design. For example, one of her students is a 16-year-old boy who has a passion for making designs. Through Camp Fashionista, Dori helps him build his skills and confidence. Dori also provides classes to youth in foster care and donates her studio once a month to Sew for Love, a community group that makes teddy bears and blankets for children in foster care and homeless shelters.

Dori Duncan, owner of Camp Fashionista

Turning A Lifelong Passion Into A Business

Having grown up in Los Angeles, Dori took an interest in fashion since childhood. She studied fashion design, graduating from the prestigious Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles. Though she moved away from design for a time when her children were young, she eventually returned to her passion, developing her business concept. However, she had little business experience.

One of Camp Fashionista's students, sewing her own design

AnewAmerica and the Success of Camp Fashionista

AnewAmerica helped Dori understand her business financials. Dori learned how to effectively use QuickBooks, social media, and participate in business competitions. Overall, AnewAmerica has helped Dori develop customer relations, understand her business fundamentals, and recast herself as a designer and business owner.

Camp Fashionista's Future

After five years in business, Dori now analyzes her past sales and surveys her customers on what they want to improve her operations. During the next five years, her goals include establishing a second location, franchising her business, and developing an exit strategy for her eventual retirement. Dori is thrilled that she has created a space for children and young people to pursue their passion for design - just as she pursued hers.

AnewAmerica salutes its women entrepreneurs who from all walks of life follow their passions and with their creative energy create a new opportunity for themselves and others.

We thank Xochitl, Lourdes & Fatima, Penny, and Dori for sharing their inspiring entrepreneurial journeys, and we thank you for joining us in honoring women entrepreneurs during #WomensHistoryMonth!



Check out Camp Fashionista's website: www.campfashionista.net

"We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community." - Civil Rights Leader and Human Rights Champion, Cesar Chavez #CesarChavezDay #SiSePuede

Follow us on Facebook, check us out on Twitter or join us on LinkedIn - in April, we'll be talking about environmentally responsible AnewAmerica entrepreneurs, just in time for Earth Day!

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