Ana Leonardo is Preserving her Culture

Something Planted, Something Green

“Even though I’m a city girl, I can’t exist without something to plant, something green.” Growing up in the Dominican Republic, Ana’s favorite days were the trips she and her father took to their family-owned farm. “We would spend the day there running through the trees and playing in the fields.” These memories, along with her close relationship with her father, instilled in Ana a deep love of nature. “I grew up watching my father. He loves plants, animals, everything natural and I developed that passion from him.”

 

Spreading the Love Around

After moving to the United States, Ana began working an office job to support herself, but coming from a family of entrepreneurs, she knew she wanted to own her own business. Not only that, she wanted to create a product that would share both her love of nature and a piece of culture with her new community. Inspired by the fruits of her family’s passionfruit plantation in the Dominican Republic, Ana founded Hacienda Del Sol, a company offering gourmet preserves made from all-natural ingredients.

 

Making the Trip

After developing numerous recipes, Ana began sharing her products with the public at local farmer’s markets. However, without her own car, transporting her supplies to each market proved unsustainable. She knew she needed to purchase a car if she wanted to continue, and would need financial support in doing so. Ana discovered Accion through a business event and decided to apply for a loan. “My loan consultant guided me through the whole application process.” With her loan, Ana was able to purchase a car as well as cooking equipment for events, enabling her to overcome numerous challenges. “My products weren’t in stores yet, so this was my primary source of income, and having my own car enabled me to transport everything to the markets more effectively.”

 

A Taste of Home

With passionfruit as the key ingredient in many of her products, Ana has found a way for her heritage to shine as well as to connect on a personal level with residents of her community. “By sharing these creations, I’m sharing my culture. In the U.S., passionfruit is very unique. For the Hispanic community here, whenever they see my product at a fair or farmer’s market, they get so excited because they can identify.” For Ana, owning her own business has never been a question and she encourages others to act on their passion as well. “I don’t think there’s another option for me. If you have the tools, that flame within you, you can create a source of employment for yourself.”