In 2019 the Arkansas Women’s Business Center at Winrock International piloted Momentum, a first-of-its-kind business accelerator targeting minority women in Arkansas. Momentum provided 10 minority woman-owned businesses with professional development training, mentorship and $500 in seed funding for business development. The five-week accelerator led to the launch and expansion of 10 new minority woman-owned businesses in Arkansas.
It wasn’t long after moving to Arkansas from Venezuela that sisters Mercedes and Consuelo Jaimes discovered a gap in the Little Rock food scene: Latin American food. So they researched the food truck business, purchased a small bus originally used to transport people with disabilities, and retrofitted it to work as a food truck with the help of a friend and two family members. They named their new business Tren Al Sur, meaning “Train to the South” in Spanish.
The train got rolling in late fall of 2018 at the Bramble Harvest Festival Oct. 20, then started a sensation at the opening for the new Rail Yard, an “urban beer garden” in up-and-coming east Little Rock. Today, Tren Al Sur dishes out six types of arepas and five kinds of empanadas off its fusion menu from its regular spot at 1222 W. Capitol Ave., while catering private events as well.
Through Momentum, the owners received mentorship on building their brand, and put technical assistance funds toward $500 of branding and marketing assistance to spread the word through the community about their new enterprise.
“I really appreciate the opportunity to be a part of Momentum,” said Eyllen Calderon. “It’s a great asset to our community to have them guiding us to be better entrepreneurs.”