Silvia’s Bakery’s Ingredients for Pandemic Success: Technical Assistance and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

Silvia Paulino of Silvia's Bakery

Silvia’s Bakery is a minority-owned, immigrant-owned, and woman-owned business specializing in baking pastries and creating Latin-inspired desserts for wholesale and retail clients. Silvia Paulino started her bakery as a home-based business in 2002, after arriving from the Dominican Republic five years earlier. Even at a young age in her home country, she had a love for the kitchen and a talent for creating delicious foods and pastries. Paulino outgrew her home-based bakery a year later and moved twice until she relocated to a 500 sq. ft. space in 2009. She saw the need to create a traditional Latino bakery in her community and in 2015 she undertook an expansion. In December 2019 she relocated to her current 1,500 sq. ft. manufacturing facility and retail store in an area designated as the American Street Empowerment Zone. The family-operated business includes her oldest daughter, a culinary-school graduate who runs production; her son manages the financial side; her sister-in-law serves as Silvia’s right-hand; and her husband manages distribution.

“Silvia has always taken her role as an entrepreneur seriously and is passionate about her results. I have the deepest personal and professional respect for her, and sincerely believe she always brings her unique energy, optimism, and tireless creativity to her business,” said Kersy Azocar, Senior Vice President, Microlending, FINANTA. “She has been a client of FINANTA since 2015 and has participated in countless technical assistance business classes. In 2019 she was part of the first cohort of Ella Emprende (She Undertakes), hosted in partnership with Widener University Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.”

Ella Emprende is a year-long women’s entrepreneurship program through which participants develop a personalized strategic growth plan. Through Widener SBDC’s bilingual consultants, Silvia was able to receive quality business services in Spanish that enabled her to strengthen, innovate, manage, and expand her business.

Following more than three years of due diligence, Paulino moved into the new location on 2nd St. FINANTA worked with her to identify a location that met her financial and geographical requirements, including a parking lot for retail clients. The bakery opened last December, and Silvia expected 2020 to bring in orders for local events, holidays, and important cultural and family moments such as weddings, birthdays, christenings, quinceañeras, and Christian saint celebrations. When the COVID-19 pandemic occurred, the business closed its retail offerings and concentrated on servicing wholesale accounts. Paulino relied on a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan to keep employees on payroll until she could reopen the retail store with health and safety requirements in place.

“I used 100% of the SBA PPP loan to retain my employees. I have a young workforce who needs stable employment and I am teaching them not just to bake, but to develop life-long skills that may one day lead to having their own business,” Paulino said. “We are thankful for the guidance and support received from Widener SBDC.”

“It’s a privilege to recognize the achievements of leading minority-owned Pennsylvania small businesses like Silvia’s Bakery,” said Steve Dixel, SBA Eastern Pennsylvania District Director. “Silvia is the true definition of a spirited entrepreneur who doesn’t limit success and seizes opportunities to create an impact in her local community’s economy. SBA is proud of the role that our SBA Microlender FINANTA plays in helping small businesses start, grow and succeed through their technical assistance and funding programs.”

Since arriving in Philadelphia, Paulino has been highly involved in her community. She graciously provides her products to two Catholic churches for celebrations and special events that foster fellowship and build community. For more than 20 years, Paulino has been involved with the House of the Poor Kids (Casa del Niño Pobre), a nonprofit organization helping children in the Dominican Republic. She also supports Wings to Fly (Alas para Volar), a nonprofit organization providing better education for Latinos in rural communities.