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UMKC Innovation Center

6 Multicultural Entrepreneurs Who Are Proud to Call Kansas City Home

multicultural entrepreneurs-collage
1WeekKC is fast approaching (May 20 through May 27, to be precise). This signature week of entrepreneurship is your invitation to connect with business-building resources in Kansas City, network with other entrepreneurs and learn from some of the best in KC business.

We are very excited to launch the week of celebrations and connections with a Multicultural Business Happy Hour on Monday, May 23. Many awesome organizations will be there or networking, including several of the Resource Partners who helped these six standouts:

Alpha Energy & Electric

This year Alpha Energy & Electric was selected as one of Kansas City Chamber of Commerce's Top 10 Small Businesses. This accolade will sit nicely by their 2014 recognition as the diverse-owned business of the year, also awarded by the KC Chamber of Commerce

Step by measured step, they’ve stayed on course, building their company and their portfolio.

In 2006, Alpha Energy and Electric was chosen to be a part of the first JE Dunn Construction Minority Contractor Business Development Program (MCBD Program), one of only 13 companies selected year out of a competitive pool of about 50. In 2008, they left the incubator and moved into a new, green energy 10,000 sq. foot corporate headquarters. In 2011, AlphaEE expanded, opening its second office in Knob Knoster, Missouri, quickly followed by offices in Lagos, Nigeria and Fort Riley, Kansas.

Recent projects include installing electrical systems in Dean Machinery, the Sprint Center, Kauffman Stadium, JE Dunn’s new corporate headquarters, and the new Arrowhead Stadium, among others. 

Learn more here. 

Mackech Jewelry 

"Starting a business in a new country is not easy. My English was poor, and I lacked the business contacts in the United States. I started out by working with an English tutor to improve my language skills. I also had to develop additional skills beyond my skills as a successful salesperson. I took courses in finance and business management, which included detailed instruction in budgeting, accounting, invoicing, retailing, Excel, strategic planning, etc. I continue to take additional business classes as I evolve as an entrepreneur.

'I decided to bring Mackech to the United States because of its previous success in other markets. I started by introducing the collection at little parties held in people’s homes.

'As I had anticipated, the brand was very well received. I started receiving phone calls from people who had seen the jewelry pieces on friends and wanted to purchase the jewelry for themselves. I was able to build a new clientele fairly quickly. At the same time, I worked at getting the brand in front of merchandisers at different retail stores.

'In May of 2011, I became an official supplier for a Sam’s Club store in Houston, Texas, that catered primarily to the Hispanic market. In 2013, I became an official supplier for all Sam’s Club stores in the United States. In 2014, I opened the first Mackech retail store in Leawood, Kansas. Currently, you can find Mackech brand in different retail stores around the United States." 

For more, go here.

Jazzy B's

The first three years were rough, Brandon admits. More and more trucks started roaming the streets, seduced by the prospects of a low overhead, lucrative business where you could set your own hours. Brandon had already survived the harsh realities behind that little piece of fiction. He’d also done his homework on how to build a thriving food truck business.

“I was watching the food truck movement in other cities and realized that the best way to attract new customers was to build awareness," he says.

He joined with Michael Bradbury, owner of the Funnel Cake Truck, and in 2014, they co-founded the Kansas City Food Truck Association, the first food truck organization in Kansas City. Through it, Simpson and Bradbury hoped to provide a single point of contact for the association’s trucks; mentor new operators; and create an organized way to work with municipalities and governmental bureaucracies to review codes, ordinances, procedures and enforcement that better address the realities of the food truck industry."

Finish this delicious story here. 

Panaderia de las Americas

An immigrant from Mexico, Hernandez brought more than a decades’ worth of experience with him when he opened his Latin American bakery, Panaderia de las Americas in 2013. With a $10,000 loan from Brotherhood Bank and assistance from the Hispanic Economic Development Corporation’s (HEDC) Business Development Program, his bakery now offers Central and South American flavors that, until now, couldn’t be found in other Kansas City panaderias.

Hernandez first visited the HEDC’s office in August 2012, a full year before he opened his business. Like any baker, Hernandez is the consummate planner, knowing firsthand how important it is to get the ingredients, the recipe, and his measurements right.

And he was thorough. Hernandez completed the Operation JumpStart –  PrimerPaso class, took a QuickBooks course at HEDC’s BTOP computer lab and received assistance registering his business. All steps to ensure that he launched (or kneaded) his business right, from the start.

Even though it’s just a year old, Panaderia de las Americas is a shining example for other businesses and entrepreneurs.

Termina la historia aquí.

El Padrino

El Padrino was named the Kansas City, Kansas Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year in 2015. 

El Padrino, which means 'godfather' in Spanish, is the name of the premier soccer league and apparel store Raul Villegas founded with his sister Miriam Villegas in 2007. Before ScaleUP!, business was booming, but the Villegases was at a crossroads. Their business had thrived on their personal touch with customers, many of whom are Hispanic families. That hands-on approach had to change given that the soccer league had grown to 200 youth and adult teams.

That’s exactly why Raul signed up to participate in ScaleUP! Kansas City.

His goals were to hire more staff and open a second indoor soccer facility. In fact, ScaleUP! immediately taught him the importance of adding key people to his staff.  This year, Raul hired a general manager to run the day-to-day operations, so he could concentrate on his plans to expand the business.  It also allows him to better target his customer base and generate more sponsors.

Currently, the Villegases employ 10 full-time employees and 20 to 25 part-time employees, depending on the season. The soccer league is housed at Soccer Nation, a 40,000-square-foot indoor soccer facility that they opened last year.

Keep reading. 

Paleterias Tropicanas

José Luis Valdez and Lucia Fonseca launched Paleterias Tropicana in 2004 in midtown Kansas City as a way to bring natural, authentic Mexican-style ice cream and paletas to KC’s growing Latino market.

But they didn’t stop there. They now offer an extensive menu of fresh fruit cocktails and juices, smoothies, freshly made and filled churros and traditional Mexican lunch and dinner items—and they recently launched a private label product, Freshata to help bring more Latin-themed products to the U.S. market. If you haven’t tried them out, you should. (You can find them in KCK, on Southwest Boulevard, in the Tomahawk Shopping Center—and even at the Kansas City Zoo and the T-Bones ballpark.)

Satisfy your sweet tooth here. 

For more stories from some of our favorite multicultural entrepreneurs, head this way. And be sure to join us on Monday, May 23 at the Multicultural Business Happy Hour!

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