Proyecto Matria opens women-owned franchise Arepa Chic restaurant in Caguas
Arepa Chic, a restaurant launched as a socially conscious micro-franchise run by women entrepreneurs, has opened in the heart of Caguas, to sell “arepas with a purpose.”
Proyecto Matria, a nonprofit that provides support and options to women affected by situations of violence, created the Arepa Chic micro-franchise concept, investing $625,000 in donations from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Women Empowerment International and the Ángel Ramos Foundation.
The main restaurant and kitchen are located on 41 Ruiz Belvis Street at the Caguas Urban Center and generate nine jobs that will grow to 14 in the next few weeks. That number will again jump to 30, when new franchises open, as well as two carts and a food truck in the pipeline in coming months.
The restaurant is where the “arepas” are made and distributed, and where the new locations will get their inventories.
“Arepa Chic is a place where women can have their business and feel supported. Projecto Matria assumes the organization, marketing, accounting, training, concept development so that women entrepreneurs who are part of the franchise only have to open their kiosk and sell a quality product,” said Amárilis Pagán, executive director of Proyecto Matria.
“This will be a great space to eat some very tasty “arepas,” with creative recipes, which bear the names of great feminist women so that they know their history,” Pagán said.
“Through the tasty food in this special place, we not only create jobs but open the door for women who follow. That is Arepa Chic,” Pagán said.
Pagán said Proyecto Matria will fulfill a dual goal with the concept, which will provide work and entrepreneurship opportunities to women heads of families with a profile similar to that of the other participants in the organization and, at the same time, generate funds to make the nonprofit more sustainable through self-generated income.
Karla Berríos, manager of Arepa Chic and who has more than a decade of experience in food-related ventures said, “I have never worked in a place with so many purposes, that fill you, in which everything has a reason for being.”
“It’s a safe space for women, with positive energies, in which we help them to grow, to know that they are powerful,” Berríos said. “It’s the springboard for women to go into business, the platform they needed to be supported, listened to, be leaders of their families, work from love.”