Entrepreneur Profile

Penny Baldado, Community-Minded Chef and Entrepreneur

Now in our third week of #WomensHistoryMonth, AnewAmerica features Penny Baldado, who brought together talent, hard work and a sense of social responsibility to create Cafe Gabriela in Downtown Oakland. She runs a green business that provides healthy food to the local community while giving back in creative ways.


Business Name: Cafe Gabriela

Type of Business: Oakland community cafe serving local, love-inspired coffee and food

Location: Downtown Oakland

Since 2010, Penny Baldado has served up delicious espressos and pulled pork adobo sandwiches to the public at Cafe Gabriela in Downtown Oakland at Broadway and 10th Street. She donates to the local community, mentors foster youth in culinary skills, and uses her space to feature local artists at no cost. Having established herself in her first location, Penny now wants to open a second cafe and begin roasting her own beans. She plans to buy her beans directly from farmers in the Philippines.


An art exhibit commemorating the victims of police brutality, featured until May at Cafe Gabriela

Realizing Her Vision

Penny moved from the Philippines to the U.S. in 1999. As an immigrant, she struggled at first to find employment. She began by bussing tables at a restaurant, but she felt exploited and unsupported.

Penny persevered, and through her talent and industry, she became the Head Chef. This experience gave her the confidence to realize her own vision of an environmentally- and community-friendly restaurant. So in 2007, she sought out AnewAmerica's business development program.

The art gallery inside Cafe Gabriela

Growing A Business with AnewAmerica

Through the intensive training provided in the business classes and follow-up 1:1 technical assistance, she learned how to write and implement marketing, business and asset plans that incorporated social responsibility. With the help of AnewAmerica, Penny found the perfect site for Cafe Gabriela in Downtown Oakland. She named her restaurant after Gabriela Silang, a Filipina hero who fought against oppression.

To help cover her start-up expenses, AnewAmerica enrolled Penny in its matched savings program, through which she earned $6,000, and assisted her to obtain a 360Microfinance business loan. In addition, AnewAmerica gave Penny an AnewAmerica Business Grant made possible by the support of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Job Opportunities for Low-income Individuals program.

Penny, proud owner of Cafe Gabriela

A Thriving Cafe Focusing On Community, Health and Environmental Sustainability

Penny's cafe opened in May of 2010. In the spirit of being environmentally-conscious and saving money, she purchased second-hand equipment and materials. She made contacts with suppliers that shared her commitment to green business practices. During her menu-creation process, she remains dedicated to using local, fresh, and organic products.

Penny credits AnewAmerica in helping her dream cafe become a reality. She states, "AnewAmerica is very instrumental in bringing Cafe Gabriela into fruition. They have supported me through the whole endeavor. They've provided me with incredible classes, and contacts that are vital in the business preparation stages, such as legal services, grants, loans, and teaching me how to manage my budgets. I am definitely lucky to be a part of AnewAmerica. They have been with me from the very beginning."

For aspiring and existing entrepreneurs, Penny has the following advice:
1) Never stop educating yourself, and
2) Ask for help.

You can check out Cafe Gabriela's Facebook page or visit Penny at 988 Broadway, Oakland, CA.

To find out more about how to start your own business, go to our website: http://anewamerica.org/

For the rest of March, follow us on Facebook, check us out on Twitter or join us on LinkedIn - we'll be bringing you stories about our awesome women entrepreneurs, as well as useful tips on how to start and grow your own business!