Mary “Karen” Cruz

Santo Nino Filipino Market

Las Vegas, Nevada


Mary “Karen” Cruz enjoys raising a family while managing a business seven days a week. When she comes to work after preparing food for her two older daughters early in the morning, she focuses on helping customers and the future of her family-owned Filipino market in Las Vegas.


The Santo Nino market sells drinks, biscuits, fresh meat, frozen goods, cookies, and other products from the Philippines. Karen often writes down recipes for her customers, including practical cooking advice for Filipino dishes. “I like being a mom and a business person,” Karen says. “My family inspires me, and the business provides us with extra income.”


Her husband, who owns the business, works at a casino full-time. Though they both had good credit, Karen and her husband did not qualify for a loan from their bank when they opened.


“Getting money itself was hard,” Karen says. “We used our savings to start the business. The bank wouldn’t allow us to get credit if we didn’t have 2-3 years of experience.” With the help of Accion, Karen was able to stock her shelves with inventory and used some of the funds for cash flow to help pay rent. Accion staff also gave Karen business coaching to advise her on how to better manage her finances.


With sights on expanding the business to increase revenues, Karen and her husband are hoping to add a snack bar to sell some of her baked goods. “I know what we’re capable of,” Karen says. “When you see that people are very thankful for you, and they can find what they want, it feels good.”