“Look for help because there is support and you are not alone.” – Paola

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Paola Alvarado is a Latina entrepreneur who changed her outlook on work and life in the midst of the pandemic, and take control of her own fate. Paola worked as a bartender until the during pandemic she lost her job and she decided to start her own mobile bar business Pao Craft Cocktails in East Palo Alto, California. Paola comes from a family of entrepreneurs, with her parents owning a small shoe business in Mexico. Thanks to the experience with her family, she discovered at a young age that she wanted to have her own business one day.


Although she dreamed about being an entrepreneur, making the decision in the middle of the pandemic was a challenge for Paola, due to doubts about capital and administrative issues. Paola had 4 years of experience as a bartender so she had a lot of knowledge in the industry, but no business experience. Thanks to a friend’s recommendation, she decided to take Centro’s Basic Entrepreneurship Program.

“The program helped me get a clearer sense of my business: to understand the operations a little bit better, where each operation breaks down and how to work in each one of them. I have already implemented in my business a lot of what I learned in the Programs.”

During the 9-week basic program, Paola created Pao Craft Cocktails’ first Business Plan and consolidated the foundation to start her business. She also received one-on-one Business Coaching that helped her overcome her doubts and create goals for her business. Paola was aware that she needed capital to take her business to the next level with her business and buy a van that would help her work at events. With the help of the Centro Capital Hub she decided to create her Kiva fundraising campaign. Paola raised the $15,000 from her campaign and just bought the van for her business to transport more equipment and hold larger events.

Paola’s strength and ability to overcome challenges and take a big leap with her business motivated her to take the Advanced Entrepreneurship Program while running her Kiva campaign. Thanks to this program, Paola worked alongside with entrepreneurs who were in her same situation and with whom she created important friendships and networks to support each other’s businesses.


Pao Craft Cocktails is a craft cocktail business that focuses on creating fun and different environments with a delicious drink tailored to the needs of its customers. Pao Craft Cocktails is a mobile bar and they serve their customers at the location of their choice.

One of Paola’s biggest challenges as a Latina immigrant has been the language barrier since she arrived in the United States at the age of 21. This has been an especially big challenge while creating her business, and it is one that she continues to face on a daily basis.

When she began her journey as an entrepreneur, Paola had to trade in her bartender’s hat for a business owner’s, and it wasn’t easy: “Another big challenge was figuring out how to sell my product and make the packages. I had to research everything that goes into making a bar because it’s a lot of calculations and all that cost me months of research.” In addition, she had to get special alcohol licenses and learn how to manage documentation and taxes.

Thanks to the daily support of her husband and her 9-year-old daughter, she has fought for her dream of being an entrepreneur and owning her own business. For her daughter, she is a great example of strength and sacrifice, as she sees how hard she works to train and establish her business. She is also an example of success for her Latina community and in the Facebook group, where she started writing posts to promote her business. No


Her main goal in the coming months is to promote her business and build customer loyalty. She is also working on her prices and on improving her operations. She has 3 people working for her as contractors and is considering hiring them as full-time employees, due to her rapid growth and success.

“To entrepreneurs I would say look for help because there is support and you are not alone. Now thanks to Centro and Kiva I know, and I can tell you that.”

If you want to enjoy her wonderful handcrafted cocktails in the Bay Area and support Paola Alvarado’s business, visit her website Pao Craft Cocktails. You can also support her business on her social media Instagram and Facebook.