President Biden announced important changes to the PPP, including a two-week window for businesses with fewer than 20 employees.

Young Entrepreneur Finds Success with Determination and a Blend of SBA Assistance

In 2009, at the age of 19 and in his second year of Engineering studies in college, upon learning that he was about to become a father Edwin Tirado decided that starting his own business would be the best way to provide for his family.

He began baking in the garage at his parents’ home in Naranjito, a town in the central region of Puerto Rico. Naming the business Charlotte’s Sweets after his child’s mother, Edwin set up shop at a shopping mall in Naranjito, and over the following six months sold cakes and other sweets.

His baked goods proved to be successful, and Edwin decided to expand his offerings, venturing into making various flavors of frappes, including a Nutella-based that remains the most famous to this day.

“All our frappes have a natural fruit base and we add the sweets of your choosing,” Edwin says. “You name it, and we decorate it the way you want.”

Edwin moved from Naranjito and set up a four feet by eight feet wagon on the road from Añasco to Rincón --this time on the island’s west coast—and renamed his business Don Frappe, adding 35 flavors to his list of frappe flavors, including every chocolate variation imaginable and a decadent red velvet.

He later drafted a business proposal and submitted it to the Center for Business Development at the University of Puerto Rico’s Mayagüez Campus, which resulted in his winning a $13,500 grant in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds through Acción Social, a local economic reinvestment organization that helps create jobs and self-employment opportunities.

With his newfound capital, Edwin built a bigger wagon and moved operations to a lot adjacent to a shopping center.  The business flourished so much that some of the nearby communities began complaining about the volume of people coming to the area to visit Don Frappe. Edwin felt compelled to close his business and think of setting up in a different location.

“That has been, perhaps, my greatest obstacle so far,” Edwin says. “It was three months of wondering what I was going to do next, but I persevered.”

Looking for another place to start again, Edwin found a piece of land on Road 2, at the intersection between the towns of Aguada and Añasco, where more than 60,000 cars transit on a daily basis. In this new and more spacious location, Don Frappe was even more successful, becoming a staple eatery on the island’s west coast, with much acclaim from locals everywhere.

But Edwin didn’t stop there; he decided to expand again, this time adding a restaurant with the concept of “bringing Old San Juan to the west coast.”  In 2014 Don Maceta was born, specializing in Puerto Rican cuisine, all served inside a wooden mortar with pestle or ‘maceta’, as it is known locally.

To accomplish this new venture, Edwin approached Banco Popular de Puerto Rico and applied for a revolving line of credit under the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 7(a) Loan Guaranty program.

With the loan proceeds, Edwin put down the restaurant’s floor and after paying off the loan he applied for another 7(a) in a higher amount to expand again.  

“To have been able to open the restaurant is my greatest satisfaction,” says the entrepreneur who still has not reached the age of 30. “Of course, I had SBA’s help but after achieving that, it was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I felt liberated, because I had made that dream come true and I am contributing directly to Puerto Rico’s economy.”

The restaurant counts with seating capacity for 600 people.  Later, Edwin built an area for local artisans to sell their crafts and another with ponies for children to ride.  He also paved the parking lot to provide easier access for vehicles.

“I wish there were more organizations out there like the SBA to help us entrepreneurs,” he says. “It is a privilege to work with SBA, after everything it does for us. Imagine how difficult it would have been if when I visited the bank for help, the SBA didn’t exist.”

Over the past few years, Edwin has continued expanding his businesses. Two of the most recent additions are Doña Paleta --which sells all kinds of ice cream bars-- and Somos de Aquí, a small track that opened on Christmas Day 2018 with 17 go-carts for children and adults alike. All businesses together employ more than 70 people.

In May 2019, Edwin signed-off on an SBA 504 loan with the support of Banco Popular de Puerto Rico and Corporación para el Fomento Empresarial del Comercio y de las Comunidades to purchase the entire land where all his businesses are located.

Edwin is currently participating in SBA’s Emerging Leaders program, and will graduate in September 2019 with a three-year Strategic Growth Action Plan for his company.

“I am so grateful to the SBA for the assistance it provides. It is very much needed to help businesses move forward. And with Emerging Leaders, I finally found something than can help me along the way,” edwin conlucludes.


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