The entrepreneurial spirit is increasingly palpable in Puerto Rico, especially among young people, who with audacity, courage and determination are starting to develop their own businesses.  And not necessarily all of them do it because they can’t find a job, many of them do it because they genuinely have the desire to start a business and put their efforts into making their business a success.

One of those young people is Jezreel David García Barragán, who at 26, is the owner of the Yemi, LLC., a family business devoted to manufacturing frozen foods.  Currently, Yemi manufactures hazelnut chocolate-filled pastries, cheese fingers, cheese and guava pastries, and tapas.  The latter are squared-shaped pieces of dough that are fried and eaten as a snack with guacamole or different sauces.

In an interview with Negocios, García Barragán said that he inherited his entrepreneurial spirit from his mother, a high-level executive of the beauty firm L’Bel, who has always been his inspiration in his quest for excellence.  The young man is Colombian and is married to Sharayma Bey Hernández from Puerto Rico, his right-hand woman in the business.

“Ever since I was a little boy I envisioned having a food business,” said García Barragán, who opened his frozen products factory earlier this year in the town of San Germán.

He came to Puerto Rico five years ago from the Dominican Republic, where he had lived since he was 13 years old, thanks to an athletic scholarship -he plays soccer- awarded to him by the Inter-American University of San Germán.  He graduated last year with a bachelor’s degree in Business Development and completed his internship at Inter-American’s Small Business Technology and Development Center (SBTDC).

He said that having done his internship at the SBTDC helped him become an entrepreneur, since he took advantage of the opportunity to develop a business plan and make contacts that supported him in this initiative.

With an investment of $15,000, from his own savings and a loan from his mother, he started production.  “I focused on finding an economical location, I purchased several second-hand pieces of equipment, and an artist friend of mine helped me design the logo.  I’m knocking on doors to have them open for me,” he said with total confidence.

The dough recipe is his own creation.  Cheese fingers were the first product he developed; the dough is rolled and filled with white cheese.  Then, he created the chocolate and hazelnut pastries. These are sold at retail in half-dozen packages, while the little fingers come in one-dozen packages.

Both are already available at 16 Econo Supermarkets, including the one in Altamira in Guaynabo, Trujillo Alto, Rincón and San Germán.  In fact, the San Germán Econo was the first to open its doors and give him the opportunity to sell the product.  In the coming weeks, Yemi products will also arrive at Pueblo Supermarkets and SuperMax; and they’re already available in independent supermarkets.

As a strategy to advertise the Yemi brand, whose slogan is “Taste it”, the young couple holds tastings on weekends in various supermarkets.  They’re also on Facebook and Instagram.

García Barragán also sells to restaurants and inns, but in larger packages. For that sector he makes the four products, and doesn’t rule out that eventually the cheese and guava pastries and tapas will also reach supermarkets. “We want to position the other two products first, before launching more variety”.

As it happens in any small business, this young couple divides the tasks, since there are multiple functions that they must perform, as if they were a large corporation.  He’s in charge of obtaining customers, delivering orders and negotiating with suppliers, while his wife works in administration, follows up with customers, and is finishing her studies in psychology.  They both work in production, create the recipes and do the tastings, while also taking time to care for their two-year-old daughter.

“I envision Yemi as a global brand. We’re just starting out and I know we have a long way to go. But I’ll tell you something, I looked for a job and thank God I didn’t find it because it led me to create what I had always dreamed of”, the young man emotionally stated.

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