Entrepreneur Profile

Entrepreneur Profile

Entrepreneur Profile: Fernando Alvarado

Building Green

Fernando Alvarado: AnewAmerica Class of 2010

A Colombia native, Fernando Alvarado immigrated to California in 2000 with his family in search of a new home and a more prosperous livelihood. In his home country, Fernando received a degree in Civil Engineering and worked for the government, but felt unsafe in the politically unstable situation of Colombia. When Fernando arrived in U.S., he knew he wanted to put his education and experience to use in the field of construction.

Fernando started his career in the U.S. by getting contract work with other construction companies, which provided him with great experience with U.S. construction businesses, but was not always reliable and did not give him with the flexibility and independence he desired. In 2006, Fernando began thinking about starting his own business in order to achieve his personal and professional goals, but was unsure of where to start. “Starting a new business is difficult; especially when you are unsure of the state and federal laws you need to follow. It also takes a lot of start up money, which I did not have,” Fernando explains. Two and a half years after his initial thoughts of creating his own business, Fernando excitedly found AnewAmerica and knew this was his opportunity to get started. In 2009, he enrolled in AnewAmerica’s Assets for New Americans: Virtual Business Incubator program and completed the twenty-five week certificate in Business Planning. Fernando describes his experience, “AnewAmerica offered me everything I needed to start my own business. They helped me to understand the laws for starting a new business and provided me with the initial financial support I needed. This has really helped my business to grow and will continue to support it into the future. I would not have been able to do this without AnewAmerica.”

Fernando has now operated his construction business, Alvarado Constructions, for almost three years. His business is an AnewAmerica Certified Green Business, as he is taking steps to ensure his construction operations are environmentally-friendly. When discussing some of the challenges around creating a new business, Fernando states, “It is difficult to get started, as you need people to know about you, to help build a positive reputation in the community. This takes time, and has to be done step by step to make sure your business grows sustainably. AnewAmerica has helped me with these challenges by setting up several events each year that my company participates in. This helps new customers learn about my work and allows my business’ name to grow. AnewAmerica has also hired me for projects. I have put in hardwood floors and have built cabinets and tables for them. In this way, others can see the quality of my work.”

Fernando still has many hopes and dreams for the future, and AnewAmerica continues to support him in this process. AnewAmerica’s Business Planning program helped Fernando to outline his future goals in a ten year business plan and to create new marketing strategies to expand his clientele. Fernando hopes for his business to continue to grow, to become a model for green construction, and to someday construct a home for his family. Fernando’s vision for the future of Alvarado Constructions is to help revitalize communities by renovating old and dilapidated buildings so they can be made livable and a source of pride in the community.

With the financial support and training Fernando received from AnewAmerica, he is now in the position to support other immigrants in his community who want to start new construction businesses. At his church, Fernando is now leading a Sunday school class to help others study for the construction certification exam. Fernando feels this is an important part of owning a local business and explains, “These people are in the same position I was three years ago, and I am now in the position to help them. I want to help provide them with the same opportunities I had to start my own business and to achieve my dreams.”

Alvarado Constructions works throughout the Bay Area on a variety of construction and renovation projects. Click here to visit their website. You can contact Fernando Alvarado by email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone: (510) 467-3634 to learn more about his green construction projects.

*Story by Alison Fischman

*Photo courtesy of Anne Hamersky



Entrepreneur Profile: Rebekah Peterkin

Rebekah Peterkin: Fair Trade and Online!

AnewAmerica Class of 2008

rebekah peterkin

Rebekah’s Ugandan roots inspire her to share the artistry of her homeland with her business, Lwanga Design.  Lwanga boasts a unique array of African home décor, kitchen accents, jewelry, and bags, made by village craftswomen in Uganda.  Rebekah is also a talented artisan: she creates consignment, high-quality pieces to complement the work of her partners in Africa.  Rebekah is currently in the process of becoming a certified Fair Trade business.

Rebekah’s dedication to social responsibility is inherent in her business practices. She views her business as a way to help improve the lives of women in Uganda.  Many of the women who produce her crafts are HIV positive and depend on a market for their goods to purchase anti-viral medication for themselves and their children.  Rebekah’s work is addressing the need for a systemized distribution for their products, as environmental and social factors (such as bad weather or violence) often prevent products from making their way to the metropolitan markets.

AnewAmerica’s program appealed to Rebekah because it spoke to her needs as an immigrant: “When you come from another country, you have to start from scratch.  It’s easier to work alongside entrepreneurs from other countries because we have different needs.  When I see [fellow entrepreneurs] working with their own businesses, I feel a sense of enthusiasm and reinforcement of my own goals.  AnewAmerica offers so many connections in the areas of community development, social responsibility, financial literacy and homeownership that apply to people from all different social statuses.”

Rebekah is currently renting space in Bayfair Mall in San Leandro where she was a finalist in the mall’s Retail*Star competition, an innovative retail business incubator program designed as a competition for aspiring entrepreneurs who would use their individual drive, retail expertise, engaging personality and competitive edge to impress an expert-judging panel in this one-of-a-kind competition. Rebekah will soon open a studio space in an artist co-operative in downtown Oakland.

Rebekah sells her products on the Anew E-Store, operated through a partnership with E-Bay’s Worldofgood.com.  AnewAmerica launched the Anew E-Store to help bring the benefits and opportunities of e-commerce to low-income new American entrepreneurs.  In order to keep pace with the high-speed demands of online transactions, Rebekah utilizes the AnewAmerica and Comcast Computing and Communications Lab, located in the incubator building.  The lab enables her to keep track of her Anew E-Store orders, design business cards and marketing material, research new products, and stay in touch with her loyal customers.  She states, “I’m getting a hand on online technology.  Six months ago I felt like I couldn’t post anything.  Now I feel confident.  I’m beginning to sell more items—at least one a day.  Now I have customers in Nebraska and Hawaii, and I am able to expand my inventory and design scope.”

Rebekah is just one entrepreneur who has benefited from AnewAmerica’s comprehensive microenterprise development services.  Thanks to the help of AnewAmerica, her African-inspired products are finding a global marketplace, enabling her to work toward the economic security of her family.

Support Rebekah's work by shopping at Lwanga Designs today!  Click here to visit Rebekah's eStore on Worldofgood.com.

Entrepreneur Profile: Penny Baldado

Penny Baldado: Opening Her Dream Green Café

AnewAmerica Class of 2009

Penny Baldado

Penny Baldado moved to the U.S. from the Philippines in 1999, to reunite with her father who had been living in the states for many years.  She viewed the move as a way to expand her opportunities.  However, Penny found the transition to life in America difficult, and she felt powerless after leaving her support system in the Philippines.  Eventually, she found a job bussing and waiting tables at a Filipino restaurant.  Then, she took the opportunity to work in the kitchen as a sous-chef.  Gradually, she gained a grasp of cooking and working in the kitchen.  Before long, she was promoted to Head Chef.

Read more: Entrepreneur Profile: Penny Baldado