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A Filipino Woman-Owned Business Invites Conversation about Heritage Through Food with Help from SBA Financing

Headshot of Chera Amlag with desserts 

A Filipino Woman-Owned Business Invites Conversation about Heritage Through Food with Help from SBA Financing  


In 2013, Chera Amlag and her husband Geo Quibuyen started a passion project, monthly Filipino pop-up dinners, where they could share their Filipino culture through food. Drawing inspiration from her first memories of cooking a Filipino dessert Halaya with her mother, Amlag combined her love of Ube, a purple yam, and cheesecake to create Ube Cheesecake, which people started requesting long after its debut during their second pop-up. In 2014, Amlag started wholesaling batches of hand-crafted Ube cheesecake to Uwajimaya andHood Famous Bakeshop was born. As the demand for her popular Filipino desserts grew, so did her need for a commercial kitchen. On Amlag’s bootstrapped startup budget, she struggled to find affordable commercial space. As a first-generation business owner, she didn’t know how to access the support and capital her business needed to grow. With a little bit of luck, Amlag was able to find a 400 square foot space in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle that would be her first brick and mortar location if she could find the money to turn her ideas into reality.


Amlag reached out to Joe Sky-Tucker, CEO of Business Impact NW, a nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that provides education, training, and financial services to underbanked and underserved entrepreneurs. Through Business Impact NW, Amlag was able to obtain a $35,000 SBA guaranteed loan which she used to renovate her Ballard location, purchase equipment, and use as working capital. Amlag tapped into SBA financing again in 2018 through a collaboration between Craft3 and Business Impact NW to launch her second location, Hood Famous Café + Bar, in Seattle’s historic Chinatown-International District. As the COVID-19 pandemic slowed the opening of her second location, Amlag was able to turn to SBA financing options again and obtained a First and Second Draw Paycheck Protection Program loans, and an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL).


Unlocking access to capital was a turning point for Amlag’s personal and business growth. Through the support she got from Business Impact NW and Craft3, she gained confidence in understanding how to access business financing and learned how to communicate the intangible social and cultural value her business had to potential funders. Not only was Amlag able to open two locations, she got connected to the small business ecosystem where she got training through the Washington Women’s Business Center. Like many business owners, Amlag saw her revenues decline 30 – 40% from 2019 to 2020 due to the pandemic. She was able to tap back into her support network at Business Impact NW to get both of her Paycheck Protection Program loans which have helped keep her business going.

From the Business Owner

“I never knew how powerful one food item can be, Ube Cheesecake really started the business; I didn’t start the business to sell Ube Cheesecakes. For me, business ownership is about the impact we have in our community and seeing Filipino culture represented in the local food scene.” Amlag said. “It took someone like Joe Sky-Tucker from BINW believing not in just our concept, but in me to take our business to the next level. Now I have this amazing platform to share Filipino culture, give back to the local community, and show what happens when we invest in women of color.”

Company Name: 
Hood Famous Bakeshop & Hood Famous Café + Bar
Seattle, WA