Rafael Aguero may have started his life in Cuba, but now he is living the American dream. After Rafael came to the United States in 2005, he found work in the food distribution industry, and a year later his wife Yaniset Valdes and daughter Gretel came to join him in America.
Our part of Rafael and Yaniset’s story began in 2006. The couple came to Jewish Family & Career Services to participate in the Refugee Savings Program, which helps refugees save money to purchase a home, start a business or pursue education. They completed a financial education course and “Your Own Business” training with the Navigate Enterprise Center team. After building a foundation of business education, they were able to start RYG Refrigeration Services, a business that distributed Hispanic food items and snacks to grocery and convenience stores.
The Aguero-Valdes family quickly expanded its business to serve customers in Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee and Ohio. Rafael and Yaniset returned to JFCS in 2009 to complete the Microenterprise Business Planning course and to apply for a small loan; their aim was to double food sales by improving their ability to hold additional inventory. The plan for the business expansion was a success, which was very well-timed since the Aguero-Valdes family expanded soon afterward with the arrival of a son, Anthony.
Having repaid their first loan, as 90% of our loan recipients do, Rafael and Yaniset came back to JFCS in 2010 to apply for a second loan to increase their product lines. With the additional capital, they were able to offer a new variety of products and improve their operations. The business flourished, and the parents were able to provide for their two growing children, including special medical needs for their daughter, Gretel.
Over time, RYG Refrigeration Services adapted to changes in local opportunities, adding cargo transportation as a supplement to the food distribution model. In late 2013, Rafael and Yaniset contracted with the local Ford factory to pick-up goods in Ohio and transport them back to the Louisville plant. This contract provided a 33% increase in income for the family, but it required them to get out of the food distribution industry and acquire a larger truck.
Through additional training and assistance and a third loan from JFCS, finalized in April 2014, the Aguero-Valdes family was able to once again expand its business, providing a more stable economic future for themselves and their children.
Our Navigate Enterprise Center specializes in helping low-income individuals and families to learn more about entrepreneurship and open their own microbusinesses. We are so pleased to have helped a local family to become self-sufficient, and to have helped a small local business to thrive and grow.
Pictured above: The Aguero-Valdes family met with Dan Heffernan to finalize RYG Refrigeration’s loan in early April. (Left to right: Dan, Gretel, Anthony, Yaniset and Rafael.)
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