Cuban Immigrant’s Food Company Selected For Accelerator Program

By David Nicklaus St. Louis Post-Dispatch

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Estie Cruz-Curoe, who was born in Cuba, started her company in 2004 because she couldn't find black beans like the ones she had grown up with. Her company "Del Carmen Foods" now makes six frozen products, including bean dip and soup.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Del Carmen Foods, which produces Cuban-style black beans in the St. Patrick Center's kitchen incubator downtown, has been selected for an accelerator program run by a New York private-equity firm.

The program will connect Estie Cruz-Curoe, Del Carmen's founder, with a former chief operating officer of Goya Foods, the nation's largest Hispanic-owned food company.

The former Goya executive, Andy Unanue, is a founder of AUA Private Equity, which chose Del Carmen for its AUAccelerates program.

Cruz-Curoe, who was born in Cuba, started her company in 2004 because she couldn't find black beans like the ones she had grown up with. Del Carmen makes six frozen products, including bean dip and soup. The products are sold in several St. Louis area supermarkets, including Whole Foods and Lucky's Market.

In a statement, Cruz-Curoe said the women's entrepreneurial group Brazen, formerly known as Prosper Women Entrepreneurs, helped her apply for the accelerator. With support from AUAccelerates, she hopes to take her products national.

AUAccelerates, launched by AUA a year ago with the help of the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, provides advice and technical expertise to women- and minority-owned businesses needing help with marketing, distribution or other functions.

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