Spring 2011 Newsletter

Springtime at AnewAmerica

This springtime at AnewAmerica we are celebrating, improving, and growing our dedication to cultivating environmentally and socially-responsible businesses.

Since 2008, AnewAmerica has offered Green Business curriculum to entrepreneurs enrolled in our Business Planning Classes. Our entrepreneurs are implementing green business strategies in a variety of creative ways to offer consumers healthy goods and services.

AnewAmerica Certified Green Businesses are involved in a diverse array of industries. The most popular green industry is cleaning services, which represents 24% of AnewAmerica Certified Green Businesses. Other popular industries include day care (13%), food businesses (13%), and retail, apparel and office spaces (7%)

Change of Leadership at AnewAmerica

Viola Gonzales

At the beginning of the year, AnewAmerica welcomed our new Chief Executive Officer, Viola Gonzales. Viola comes to AnewAmerica with a strong small business background and a long history of serving the new American population. She has a Masters of Business Administration from Harvard University. She has previously owned her own small business; worked in the accounting and regulatory arms of a larger corporation; advocated within city government on local policies and strategies to support small business development; and has managed non-profits. Viola has served as Executive Director of the Latino Community Foundation, a Northern California regional philanthropic institution, and the Executive Director of Latino Issues Forum, a California based public policy and advocacy institute. In addition, Viola serves on a variety of community boards.

Viola states, “ I look forward to leading AnewAmerica as it continues to broaden its capacity and reach in supporting small business formation and expansion, and supporting new American families to build their assets and realize their own American Dream.”

Donor Spotlight: Steve Dial

Vice President, Citi At Work Relationship Manager, Citi
Member of AnewAmerica’s Board of Directors and Donor Since 2005

Steve Dial

What inspires you to support the work of AnewAmerica, as a Board member and as a donor?

As a Board Member and donor, I am proud of AnewAmerica's commitment to empower individuals to take charge and build their own financial business and personal wealth in a manner that also emphasizes social responsibility.

What do you view is the importance of AnewAmerica’s work? How does AnewAmerica’s work to empower new Americans to lift themselves and their families from poverty fit within your values?

AnewAmerica's work is important because it gives entrepreneurs the tools to build businesses that not only personally benefit them, but also strengthen the vitality of the economic growth and development of the greater community at large. This coincides with my belief in giving individuals access to the education and tools that can help them build and improve their economic opportunities and thus create a stronger economic community at large. AnewAmerica gives individuals the tools to build themselves, their families and the overall community.

What do you view is the role or importance of giving during these challenging economic times?

During these challenging economic times that a great number of people are experiencing, support at all levels becomes vitally important for organizations like AnewAmerica. Because of the nature of AnewAmerica’s work, being a donor is, in effect, participating in the economic turn around, since each successful new business will lead to new employment opportunities for others.

Entrepreneur Spotlight: Cleaning Green For the Planet

Maria Potter, AnewAmerica Entrepreneur, Class of 2010

Maria Potter

“I want to run a cleaning business that is totally environmentally conscious!” exclaims Maria Potter. Maria’s road toward her entrepreneurial vision has been long and adventurous. She first traveled to the U.S. from her home country of El Salvador as a student. Maria established her new home in San Francisco, where she graduated from high school and went on to complete her college degree. Then, she returned home to El Salvador.

In 1980, when civil war erupted in El Salvador, Maria fled her home for Guatemala. She lived in Guatemala for a few years, where she learned how to run a restaurant and hotel. When violence increased in Guatemala and business owners were being murdered, Maria fled to the U.S., fearful that if she stayed she would be killed.

Over the next few decades, Maria followed her passion for travel and entrepreneurship. She operated businesses in Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, and El Salvador. Maria states, “I had a good friend in El Salvador who showed me the benefits of being a business owner and helped me learn what I needed to know to operate a business in Latin America.”

In 2002, Maria moved back to San Francisco, and found a job as a household manager and child care provider for a large family. Maria’s duties included house cleaning, and she immediately became aware of the impact of conventional cleaning products on children’s health.

Maria states, “I started using all green products because of the children. It has been proven that many children are allergic to conventional cleaning products, and that the onset of childhood asthma is due to all of the unnecessary chemicals we use in our home environment.”

This experience inspired Maria to pursue environmentally-friendly cleaning as a business. While Maria had owned and operated many businesses in the past, she was not familiar with how to create and maintain one in the U.S. She states, “I was scared to start a business here because I didn’t have the experience.”

In 2010, Maria enrolled in AnewAmerica’s three-year holistic microenterprise development program, Assets for New Americans: Virtual Business Incubator. She completed the twenty-five week certificate program in business planning offered by AnewAmerica at Holy Names University in Oakland. During the course, Maria used the AnewAmerica and Comcast Computing and Communications Lab, where she had access to state-of-the-art technology to help her plan her business. Maria states, “Even though I had managed several businesses in my life, I had never taken a business course. AnewAmerica really opened my eyes. They showed me how to do it. The most important skill I learned was how to manage cash flow. For me, the most difficult aspect of operating a business is understanding how to balance my income and expenditures. Also, I had never written a business plan before. AnewAmerica gave me all of these skills, and more. AnewAmerica put me on my feet.”

Maria’s business, Gaia Natural Cleaning, is an AnewAmerica Certified Green Business located in Richmond. Maria is dedicated to using safe, environmentally-friendly and biodegradable cleaning products. Maria states, “I am very concerned about the state of the planet. In every way possible, I want to implement steps that lead to less environmental impact and less waste. I drive a Prius and I recycle everything. You name it, I know how to recycle it.”

Maria has clear aspirations for the future of her business once it has grown large enough for her to hire employees. She states, “I want to operate a business where everyone working for me enjoys their work because they are paid a living wage and they enjoy a healthy working environment.”

Maria is just one of many AnewAmerica entrepreneurs whose commitment to operating a socially and environmentally-responsible business is reshaping the power of microenterprise. To have your home or office cleaned by Gaia Natural Cleaners, contact Maria at (510) 406-8461.

Entrepreneur Spotlight: Cultivating Healthy Entrepreneurship

Francis Casenas, AnewAmerica Entrepreneur, Class of 2010

Francis Casenas

Ever since Francis Casenas was a young child, he wanted to be an entrepreneur. He states, “My grandfather was a successful businessman, and he has been my role model. Like him, I want to be my own boss, to be in control of my time and the level of success I am able to achieve.”

While growing up in the Philippines, Francis developed an interest in natural medicine. He states, “Through interest in maintaining my health, I became educated about the value of natural and herbal medicine. I believe in finding a holistic solution to basic ailments before turning to synthetic medications.” Over time, Francis realized that his passion for health was a potential avenue for his entrepreneurial ambitions. He states, “The more I learned about natural supplements, the more passionate I became about sharing my knowledge with others. I want to encourage everyone to try natural products.”
Francis moved to the U.S. in 2004 to reunite with his mother and sister. He wanted to live in a country with more economic opportunities for entrepreneurs.

Francis’s questions about how to launch a business in the U.S. were answered when he discovered AnewAmerica’s office in San Jose as he was walking past the San Jose Innovation Center building. When he met AnewAmerica’s staff, he knew immediately that he had found the resources he needed to help him develop his business ideas.

Francis joined AnewAmerica’s three-year holistic microenterprise development program, Assets for New Americans: Virtual Business Incubator, and completed AnewAmerica’s twenty-five week program in business planning. Francis states, “The course educated me about all aspects of running a business: writing a business plan, developing marketing strategies and asset plans, networking, and how to green my business. AnewAmerica continues to provide me with information about financial support for my business, technical training, professional coaching and advice, social and cultural teaching, and overall encouragement to keep pursuing my business goals.”

Francis’s business, Francis Enterprises, focuses on marketing and selling organic herbal supplements. Francis sells his products in five retail locations in the South Bay. He is dedicated to selling organic products, and because he believes strongly in the principles of environmentally-friendly living, Francis takes extra care to re-use and recycle resources. His business is an AnewAmerica Certified Green Business.

Two years ago, Francis purchased a home. He is using the profits from his business to help pay his mortgage. He plans to continue to expanding Francis Enterprises so that he can leave his current job and focus solely on his primary passions: natural medicine and entrepreneurship.

If you are interested in purchasing natural supplements from Francis Enterprises, you can contact Francis at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at 408-375-9736.

Upcoming Green Events

Join AnewAmerica at the following upcoming events!

Upcoming Events

Berkeley Earth Day
Saturday, April 24th, 12pm-5pm
MLK Civic Center Park, Berkeley

Oakland EarthEXPO
Wednesday, April 13th, 10:pm-2:pm
Frank Ogawa Plaza, Oakland

AnewAmerica at the San Francisco Green Festival
Saturday, April 9th, 10am—7pm & Sunday, April 10th, 11am-6pm
SF Concourse Exhibition Center
635 8th Street (at Brannan)
San Francisco, CA 94103

Save the Date! AnewAmerica’s 12th Anniversary Gala & Microbusiness Expo
Thursday, November 10th, 2011