The reality of a ‘sweet’ American Dream

In half an hour, Monica Gonzalez drank, at least, two cups of coffee.
            But who would blame her? This energetic pastry chef turned business woman runs two bakeries in two boroughs and on top of that manages the distribution of her delicious desserts to a little more than a dozen restaurants. Gonzalez says she does it because she’s living her dream.
            “I don’t believe a lot in luck,” said the 40-something Venezuelan. “I believe in perseverance, hard work and dedication.”
            Gonzalez, whose bakeries/cafes – Tanto Dulce – are located on 74-08 Grand Avenue in Elmhurst and on 3446 Broadway in Manhattan – did have a little bit of luck, however. She came across information about Acción USA, an organization aimed to help small businesses with micro financing and financial education.
            “One day I was at the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) [at LaGuardia Community College] and they told me about the Accion loans,” said Gonzalez. “I remembered it because I always wanted to one day start my own thing.”
            Gonzalez started at first making traditional Latin American desserts like Tres Leche and Flan from a kitchen she rented from a restaurant. She then sold her tasty treats from her brother’s mobile food pushcart. Then she began to sell to restaurants too.
            So after nine years in the United States, two years ago Gonzalez – armed with a business plan in hand – went to Accion USA for help. According to her, after they analyzed and made sure that “everything was legal” with her small business they lent her $10,000 to help her open the Manhattan location. Then Accion USA lent her $15,000 more.
            “They lent me the money and I opened the business with little money but with pure creativity and passion,” said the Elmhurst resident. “I am confident I know what I’m doing.”
            Now, two years later and with the second location that opened in December 2009, Gonzalez has more floor space and can offer more gourmet sweets like almond peach tarts, biscotti, croissants and a weekend brunch of homemade Challah with fresh fruits and syrup.
            To top it all off, Gonzalez now forms part of the pilot group of business owners in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Initiative at LaGuardia Community College.
Between Accion USA, the SBDC and the Goldman Sachs program, Gonzalez feels grateful that her dreams have come true.
            “Every two minutes I say, ‘Thank you, Thank you,’” she said.

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