He describes his first years in America as the classic immigrant story. Though he was the owner of two businesses in Venezuela and specialized in sales, lack of English skills meant he had to work his way up again. He was employed as a truck driver, dishwasher and construction worker while taking English courses so he could achieve his dream of providing for his family through operating his own business in the U.S.
After working in a contractor position for several years, he was laid off. Looking back, Daniel says this setback is actually proving beneficial, providing him with the time to pursue a degree and open his first business in America.
Daniel is currently studying psychology through Regis University’s dual-language program, and is also enrolled in Mi Casa’s Exito para Negocios (Business Success) course to organize his ideas for his new business and put his business plan in writing.
His new company, El Pimiento, will offer empanadas inspired by recipes all across Latin American. An empanada is flour dough, stuffed with a sweet or savory filling, and then baked or fried. Daniel believes his empanadas will gain popularity as lunch items, since they are small and convenient to eat.
Daniel has developed recipes for seven different empanadas, including meet, vegetarian and dessert options. Using fresh ingredients and organic local produce, Daniel will bake his empanadas on site. El Pimiento will begin offering empanadas at Denver’s Cherry Creek Farmers Market this summer. A variety of Latin American beverages will also be available for purchase, including horchata (a rice drink sweetened with cinnamon and vanilla), agua de jaimaca (sweet water with hibiscus juice), and limonada con pilocillo (limeade made with unrefined sugar).
“I want to create a new perception of Latin American food through El Pimiento,” said Daniel, who also started a successful empanada selling business while living in Venezuela. “I am striving to combine the many amazing flavors of Latin American cuisine, its mixture of European influence as well as the traditions of pre-Hispanic populations.”
Daniel was recently approved for a $5,000 Kiva Zip loan to purchase the equipment needed to start his business, including a portable convention oven, refrigerator, freezer and trailer. This loan will also be used to rent a commercial kitchen space and hire a graphic designer to create marketing materials.
“Daniel is really committed to starting and growing his own business,” said Mi Casa. “He has never missed a class and has been meeting regularly with a business consultant to develop a solid business plan. And he’s an excellent cook!”
To help support Daniel’s business or read his full story, click here.