Daisy Garcia-Montoya 
Education Reporter

Businesses located in Northeast Kansas City, Missouri, and Kansas City, Kansas, were selected to receive a $10,000 grant as part of the Folklore. The program, created through a collaboration between the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Wells Fargo, and Fresco Marketing, returned for the second consecutive year offering grants to local small businesses.

The development of the program began with the creation of Folklore, an annual event celebrating the Hispanic community, organized by Fresco Marketing, a multicultural marketing agency based in Kansas City, Missouri. Luis Padilla, owner of Fresco Marketing, noticed that there was a lack of new events that would bring together the Hispanic community where young professionals, students, businesses, organizations and his own clients could connect while celebrating and recognizing the year’s accomplishments. At the same time, Padilla  wanted to find ways in which his company could give back to the Hispanic community.

With this in mind, Folklore was born in 2021 and was held in September during Hispanic Heritage Month. Wanting the event to become more than just a celebration, Padilla, along with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Wells Fargo, developed the Folklore Hispanic Small Business Grant Program in 2022 to help small businesses in the Hispanic community. 

“The idea of this grant is to continue encouraging people to open their business. I know that $10,000 won’t change the world for them, it’s an extra help but at the same time a recognition,” Padilla said. “It’s a recognition of Okay, we see you, we want to help you, keep going, it’s not easy but here is something that can help you.”

In its inaugural year, the $10,000 grant was open to applications from businesses that will remain in the 64108 zip code, in the Westside neighborhood of Kansas City, Missouri, given the concentration of Hispanic population in the area.

This year the demographic area grew to include Kansas City, Kansas, and the Northeast neighborhoods in Kansas City, Missouri, also chosen for their Hispanic population. The grant recognized 10 different businesses, 5 on the Missouri side and 5 on the Kansas side. Requirements for the businesses that applied included being Hispanic-owned, must have been in operation for at least 1 year prior to November 1, 2023, have 10 or fewer employees, possess a physical location or brick and mortar establishment, be to the standard of the Missouri and/or Kansas Secretary of State requirements and be registered and remain within zip codes: 64124, 64123, 64127, 64126, 64125, 66101, 66102, 66104, and 66105.

The application process begins in September when it is announced during the Folklore event and closes at the end of November with the announcement of the winners in December. This year, due to a high number of applications, the announcement of the winners was moved back a couple of months so that the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Wells Fargo could select the winners for the 2023 grants and present the owners  with the funds.

In addition, it was important to have diversity among the types of businesses that were selected and showing that the grant is open to businesses of all Hispanic backgrounds and not just Mexican-owned businesses. Among those selected are a jewelry store, a supermarket, a salon, stores, and restaurants. 

“The stories of the businesses, there are many stories that some businesses were already thinking about closing and now this fund will help them pay their rent for another couple of months. Another business didn’t have air conditioning and they were having a hard time and they were raising money to get it installed. There are a lot of positive stories about these businesses,” Padilla said. 

In the Northeast, winners include Leon Jewelry, Jose Fiestas Rental, La Cubana Restaurant, Taqueria Tres Hermanos LLC, and Kasanova Hair Studio LLC. 

Lester Ruiz Garcia, owner of La Cubana Restaurant, located at 5402 Winner Road, said he was happy when he learned that his business had been one of the selected among so many others in the city. 

“It is truly a blessing. First of all, we thank God and then we have to keep working and keep working hard. This fund helps us a lot in the sense that we are a small business, our budget is very small. When it comes to growing and expanding, we do make money, but we are not a franchise, we are not McDonalds or Burger King. We are not a franchise that makes millions of dollars. We are a business that makes money but on a smaller scale,” Ruiz Garcia said. 

La Cubana Restaurant hopes to expand to North Kansas City and expects to use the funds for the expenses it will incur during that expansion. 

On the Kansas side, owner Isabel Hernandez of El Nopal supermarket said the $10,000 will help her improve her business and expand into more products. Hernandez opened her business two years ago after seeing that there was a lack of stores in her neighborhood where she could buy Hispanic items.

“We Latinos are very used to being served in person. For example, many of us don’t know English or how to pay a bill if you have to go online and many of us didn’t have  the opportunity to study or know how to use technology,” Hernandez said. “Latinos come with the desire to progress and keep going, so it’s good that these opportunities are offered. We all have dreams and for them to see that it is possible, that there is help for the Latino community.”

For the 2024 application, the plan is to be able to open the application to the entire Kansas City Metro area to continue to grow in impact.

“Thanks to Wells Fargo and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for their continued support and in September be on the lookout for the applications to open. We at Fresco Marketing will be working to continue creating programs to support the community and look for other ways to create funding for other future programs,” said Padillo.  

The full list of winners:

Kansas City, Missouri (Northeast area) 

  • Joyería León 
  • José Fiestas Rental 
  • La Cubana Restaurant 
  • Taquería Tres Hermanos LLC 
  • Kasanova Hair Studio LLC 

Kansas City, Kansas 

  • El Nopal 
  • VIVE Brand Co LLC 
  • Thunderlight Work Boots 
  • Osuna Bakery Inc 
  • GGs Barbacoa Café Inc