By Ivette Peralta [email protected]
Mario and Gloria Alonso show a sign for a thrift shop Gloria Alonso hopes to open after completing the Santa Maria-based advanced Spanish Self-Employment Training (SSET) program. Gloria Alonso gave a speech during the graduation ceremony Nov. 20
Gloria Alonso, from left, Sergio Zepeda and Maria Alonso join Guillermo Chavez, WEV Spanish program coordinator, during a graduation ceremony Nov. 20 for participants in the Spanish Self-Employment Training (SSET) program. Mario Alonso is showcasing the face mask he designed for fieldworkers.
Women’s Economic Ventures celebrated graduates who completed employment training during a ceremony Nov. 20 that also put the spotlight on a program that has empowered its participants.
WEV’s Spanish Self-Employment Training program is designed to help women and men start, stabilize and grow small businesses.
During three months, the participants received training on topics including finances, marketing and sales, public relations and advertising, legal and insurance issues, record keeping and how to write a business plan.
The graduates had the opportunity to present their business goals to the audience — their family and friends — who gathered for the ceremony at United Domestic Workers Hall at 402 S. Miller St. in Santa Maria.
Participants expressed how much more confident they feel entering the world of business now that they have acquired the necessary tools and support needed to start and run a business or grow an existing business.
“We are inspired by the accomplishments of our newest Spanish Self-Employment Training graduates and welcome them to the WEV family,” said Guillermo Chavez, WEV Spanish program coordinator.
“Through this program, each graduate now has the expanded knowledge and resources to take their businesses to the next level.”
The graduates agreed.
“I think that opening a store, and with my work effort and the help of the community, it’s very likely that we will be able to give scholarships, to support high school students who are in need of resources to go to college,” said Gloria Alonso, who plans to open Pegasus Thrift Store next year.
“Something I have always wanted to do is give back to this country that has given me so much,” she added.
Gloria’s husband, Mario Alonso, also wants to start a business and call it 4M Innovations.
“I got to this age, and I don’t know where all the creativity is coming from,” said Mario Alonso, who designed a cape and hat as an attire prototype for sports fans.
“Sport fanatics go crazy for their teams,” he explained. “I can create a cape and hat for different sport teams to wear it during games.”
For fieldworkers, he designed a face mask that covers the face and neck from the sun.
Father and son Jose and Jorge Chavez took the course together. They own La Tradicional Michoacana Ice Cream Shop.
“We have a business already, but we sure learned how to improve our administration skills and how to advertise our brand in this course,” Jose Chavez said.
“Our goal is to give a taste of some of our delicious, authentic handcrafted ice cream flavors,” he added.
“We want to open a second store in the southern part of Santa Maria very soon,” Jorge Chavez said.
Entrepreneurs or already business owners, all of the graduates celebrated the beginning of a new chapter in their lives.
With some music, a warm bowl of pozole, a Mexican dish, and ice cream for dessert, the enthusiastic new graduates filled the room with joy.
Another Spanish Self-Employment Training course will be offered in Feburary.
To participate in training
To be part of WEV’s 14-week Self-Employment Training (SET) course in English or Spanish, visit https://www.wevonline.org/orientations or call 965-6073