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4 Easy office yoga poses for the busy Latina entrepreneur 

Did you know it only takes 11 minutes of exercise per day to make a difference and reap the health benefits of exercise? This is great news for the busy Latina entrepreneur! 

We know it can be tough to make time for exercise in your busy schedules between juggling a business and personal life responsibilities. However, health is important and just a few minutes of exercise per day can go a long way in helping you manage your stress and stay fit. 

For Hispanic and Latino populations, primary health concerns include high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Additionally, sitting for long hours at a desk each day can cause health issues and weaken muscles. 

Many believe you cannot reap the benefits of daily exercise unless you commit to an hour or more per day, but according to a recent study only 11 minutes of daily exercise is needed to start seeing health improvements.  

Below are a few simple and easy office yoga poses for the busy Latina entrepreneur.

Try these easy office yoga poses at your desk 

yoga poses

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.

Sitting Crescent Moon 

  1. Interlace the fingers, pointing the index finger up over the head, press the feet into the floor and reach the fingers and crown up while relaxing the shoulders down and back.
  2. Exhale and press the right hip out to the side, arching over to the left. Keep the feet grounded and the legs and buttocks engaged. Reach up and out through the fingers and crown.
  3. Breathe and hold for 2-6 breaths.
  4. To release: inhale and press into the feet as you reach the fingers back up towards the ceiling.
  5. Repeat on the other side.

Photo created by yanalya on freepik.

Seated Cat Cow Pose

  1. This common pose can be easily modified to do in a seated position. To begin, sit in a sturdy chair, feet flat on the ground. Sit toward the middle of the chair.
  2. Place the hands on the thighs.
  3. Inhale and arch the back, opening the chest and lifting the chin slightly.
  4. Exhale and round the back, drawing the chin toward the chest.
  5. Repeat slowly.

Shop yoga essentials and start your fitness journey today!

yoga poses

Photo by Dane Wetton on Unsplash.

Chair Twist 

  1. Sit sideways on a chair with the left side of the body against the back of the chair and the legs together. 
  2. On an exhalation, twist the body to the left and use your hands to grip the back of the chair, encouraging the torso deeper into the twist while the lower body maintains its position. 
  3. On an inhalation, release the hands and rotate the torso back to neutral. 
  4. Repeat the posture on the opposite side.
yoga poses

Photo by Elina Fairytale on Pexels.

Reverse Prayer Pose

  1. Sit near the edge of your chair. Reach your arms around behind you and bring your palms together, fingertips pointing down.
  2. Rotate your wrists and turn your fingertips in toward your spine until your fingertips are pointing up.
  3. Slide your palms back together in a prayer position.
  4. Use one hand to help pull the other hand up further on your back, to a comfortable spot. Be sure your shoulders are straight, not rounded.
  5. Press the outside edges of your palms lightly into your back. Press your palms together gently.
  6. Press your feet into the floor.
  7. Breathe deeply, completely filling and emptying your lungs. Hold the pose for 10 to 15 breaths.
  8. Exhale and release your arms.

Practicing a few simple poses a day will help you destress and remain healthy and balanced. If you’re looking to get more active this summer check out our 8 Relaxing summer activities for Latinas to recharge! 


*This article contains affiliated links. If you use these links to buy an item, we may earn a small commission.

Sources:

Yoga Basics

Yogapedia

Harvard Business Review

Tiny Sprouts Foods

Meet Tina and Kim, two South-Asian moms planting seeds for healthier childhoods with their brand Tiny Sprouts Foods

These days, we understand the importance of nutrition and the impact our foods have on growing children. However, when Tiny Sprouts Foods founders Tina and Kim were growing up, their parents, like many others, did not know that 90% of our brain was developed by age 5, and that every bite we ate in our first few years of life could impact our health as adults.

Tiny Sprouts Foods

Tiny Sprouts Foods co-founder, Kim. (Photo courtesy of Tiny Sprouts Foods.)

It was only after experiencing health issues as young adults that the two friends developed a passion for nutrition. Food turned into their medicine, and seeds like flax, chia and hemp became staples in their diets.

Then, they each became mothers and their children’s nutrient needs were at the top of their minds. They began including seeds into their children’s diets as seeds are the world’s TINIEST superfood, packed full of all the essential nutrients a child needs to develop and thrive. 

During this time, the women began to wonder why there were no seed products designed for children? Seeds are a perfect, easy addition to any meal after all, with their small size, neutral taste, and versatility. They’re also an excellent way to sneak in some extra nutrition for even the pickiest of eaters. 

So Tina and Kim began brainstorming and finally the foundation of Tiny Sprouts Foods ‘sprouted’ and was ironically born on Mother’s Day 2020, at the height of the global pandemic. 

Uniting their passion for children’s nutrition and functional foods, along with their combined 30 years experience in the consumer goods industry, Kim and Tina bravely left their secure corporate jobs to fully commit to their mission of planting the seeds for healthier childhood development through their business venture. 

Tiny Sprouts Foods

Tiny Sprouts Organic Superseed Boosters, which combine wholesome ingredients and contain a wide range of essential vitamins and minerals. (Photo courtesy of Tiny Sprouts Foods.)

Today, Tiny Sprouts Foods is a minority-female-founded children’s nutrition company focused on producing easy, nutrient-rich products that offer functional health benefits to the developing child. 

Their top products are their Tiny Sprouts Organic Superseed Boosters, which combine wholesome ingredients and contain a wide range of essential vitamins and minerals while boosting your little one’s nutrition and help them meet their daily health needs. 

 

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From sprouting to thriving 

While they have overcome hurdles to get to where they are today, starting a small business at the height of the pandemic was not without its challenges. One challenge was the fact that both women lived in different countries. 

Tiny Sprouts Foods

Tiny Sprouts Foods co-founder, Tina. (Photo courtesy of Tiny Sprouts Foods.)

“We are a team of two South Asian moms who reside in different countries; Kim in the USA and Tina in Canada,” they say. 

However, despite the physical distance, they found their vision and passion for the business keeps them together. 

Another struggle that many entrepreneurs, especially those in the food industry understand, was supplying, manufacturing, and sourcing. Kim and Tina encountered many roadblocks, pushing back their original launch date, but quality and food safety was a top priority so they persevered through these hurdles. 

“From product development, ingredient sourcing, manufacturing through to testing of our final products, quality and safety of our boosters will always be our number one priority. With that, however, comes a ton of extra precautions thus adding costs and always more time!” Tina and Kim share. 

“We have had to change co-packers, deal with suppliers sending us incorrect materials, and ingredients not meeting our high-quality standards. All this combined led to a launch date that was severely delayed and time & money wasted. Surely, the thought of giving up came up endlessly, but we pushed through, got to the finish line and are extremely proud of the products we developed.”

Both Kim and Tina were raised by hard working immigrant parents, so they learned firsthand the value of hard work and determination, which they now apply to their daily work at Tiny Sprouts. 

“We saw the daily struggles and sacrifices that our parents endured to provide for our families.  It has made us more resilient and flexible in a world where minority female entrepreneurs still aren’t the norm.”

Tiny Sprouts Foods

“We pushed through, got to the finish line and are extremely proud of the products we developed.” (Photo courtesy of Tiny Sprouts Foods.)

Tina and Kim are also motivated to succeed and continue to grow their business and push past challenges when they hear feedback and review of how their products have helped parents and families. 

We hear the relief and happiness in their messages knowing that their babies and children are getting adequate nutrition despite ongoing picky eating habits or other mealtime issues. Mealtime stress is real and feeding children can be deflating and frustrating – knowing that we are making this easier and less stressful for fellow moms is the best reward we can get.” 

Knowing that they are not only helping to improve the health trajectory of the next generation, but are also providing parents with the peace of mind they deserve is a great motivator and the best reward. 

“There is no greater motivation than helping fellow parents do the same for their own children.” 

You might be interested: Black and Latina moms are becoming entrepreneurs now more than ever 

To other minority women entrepreneurs and aspiring business owners, Kim and Tina offer a few words of advice learned from their own journey. 

“The struggle is real,” they say, “but the reward is unreal. There will be some very tough times, but if you truly believe in your idea, stick with it and the reward will come. It’s a journey.  It takes grit and determination to start a new business from scratch. Always keep the end goal in mind, and always remember your mission. This is what truly got us through the hard times.” 

Another reason to exercise every day during the holidays

William B. Farquhar, Professor at University of Delaware shares how daily exercise can prevent high blood pressure–a primary health concern for Hispanic and Latino populations. 

Yes, of course we all know we should exercise every day during the holiday season to help counter the onslaught of excess calories that started on Thanksgiving and will mercifully end with a New Year’s toast.

We may even tire of hearing about exercise and weight from family, friends and the media. But an equally important reason to exercise every day is related to blood pressure, not waistline.

As a physiologist who has studied exercise and health for over 20 years, I can tell you that exercise lowers blood pressure – and does so right away.
Whether you go for a daily run or brisk walk, every time you finish exercising your blood pressure goes down, and stays down for many hours, which is good for your overall health. Here’s why.

Immediate drop in blood pressure occurs

The immediate blood pressure lowering effect of exercise is referred to as “post-exercise hypotension,” and many studies have shown that blood pressure declines 5 to 7 mmHg after every exercise session. The mechanisms responsible for lowering blood pressure immediately after exercise are not fully understood, but involve dilation of the blood vessels. Whatever the precise cause, this phenomenon is clearly beneficial.

During exercise the opposite occurs, blood pressure actually increases dramatically. Why? We are hardwired to exercise. When we exercise, our working muscles need oxygen-rich blood. Our brain signals the heart to increase blood flow and blood pressure rises. Systolic blood pressure (top number) can exceed 180 mmHg during hard exercise.

This sounds like a crazy-high number, and it would be if a reading like this were taken while seated, but it is not unusual during strenuous exercise. High blood pressure values during exercise are offset by the many low values recorded after exercise, to the benefit of the body.

high blood pressure, hypertension

Photo by Thirdman from Pexels

Why worry about blood pressure? Simply put, high blood pressure (i.e., hypertension) kills. It is estimated that hypertension is a primary or contributing cause of death of more than 400,000 Americans annually. Estimates suggest that one billion people worldwide have hypertension. Here in the U.S., one-third of the population is hypertensive, and these numbers are projected to rise 7 percent by 2030. This is not just a concern for older adults – one estimate suggests that 19 percent of young adults have hypertension.

Hypertension increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. The societal costs of hypertension are astronomical. When you consider the cost of health care services, medications and missed days of work, estimates suggest that hypertension costs the U.S. US$46 billion per year. Often, there are no signs or symptoms of hypertension, which is why it is referred to as the “silent killer.” Even among adults who have been diagnosed with hypertension, nearly half do not have it under control despite taking medications. Needless to say, anything you can do to lower your blood pressure will lower your risk of disease.

Great news: You don’t have to spend hours on this

As my colleagues and I point out in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, exercise guidelines for those with hypertension emphasize the importance of daily or near-daily exercise to lower blood pressure. While the guidelines focus on those diagnosed with hypertension, daily exercise can benefit everyone.

To some, daily exercise may seem onerous, but the good news is that the exercise need not be intense or lengthy – moderate intensity exercise such as brisk walking for 30 minutes will lead to reductions in blood pressure. There is even evidence that short exercise bouts throughout the day (e.g., 10 minutes, three times per day) can lower blood pressure.

The bottom line is that exercising every day (and obviously eating less) will help prevent holiday weight gain, but an equally important benefit of daily exercise is lower blood pressure.The Conversation

You might be interested: Start the conversation about Latino health concerns this Family Health History Day 


William B. Farquhar, Professor of Kinesiology & Applied Physiology, University of Delaware

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Start the conversation about Latino health concerns this Family Health History Day 

Did you know, Thanksgiving is also National Family Health History Day? Officially designated as such in 2004 by the surgeon general, this day is dedicated to learning your family health history and starting conversations about the topic with your loved ones. 

Knowing your family health history is important and can help you prevent and watch for certain health risks that may run in your family.  It’s especially important to know your family health history when it comes to diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. These diseases are often inherited and knowing your family health history can help you be aware and take preventive measures. By knowing your health risks, you can make lifestyle changes and screen for illnesses before they happen. 

Additionally, some of these diseases can also skip generations. You may think you have a pretty good understanding of your family’s health history, but usually this only includes one or two generations that you have known in your lifetime. Asking grandparents about their parents and other relatives will help give a fuller picture of what health risks may run in your family and what diseases may pop up again after skipping generations. 

Starting these conversations with family members may be hard, but they are necessary not only for your health but for the health, but for the health of everyone in your family and of future generations. 

Common Latino and Hispanic health concerns 

For Latino and Hispanic families, some health concerns you may want to look out for include: high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, cancer, and heart disease. 

According to the CDC, heart disease and cancer in Hispanics are the two leading causes of death, accounting for about 2 of 5 deaths. Statistically, Latinos are more likely to suffer from heart disease and on average, Hispanic women at risk of heart disease are likely to develop the condition 10 years earlier than non-Hispanics according to data from Go Red for Women

Other health concerns that Latinos and Hispanics should discuss with family members are chronic liver disease, chronic kidney diseases, and strokes. 

Data shows that Hispanic Americans have twice the rate of chronic liver disease compared to non-Hispanic whites and are more likely than whites to die of chronic liver disease. 

Hispanics are also 1.5 times more likely to have kidney failure compared to other Americans, and 20 percent of people on the kidney transplant waiting list are Hispanic. 

Getting the conversation started

To get started talking about your family health history with your loved ones, begin by asking questions. The CDC outlines questions you can use to get the conversation started such as: 

  • Do you have any chronic diseases, such as heart disease or diabetes, or health conditions, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol?
  • Have you had any other serious diseases, such as cancer or stroke? What type of cancer?
  • How old were you when each of these diseases or health conditions was diagnosed? (If your relative doesn’t remember the exact age, knowing the approximate age is still useful.)
  • What is your family’s ancestry? From what countries or regions did your ancestors come to the United States?
  • What were the causes and ages of death for relatives who have died?

Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels

After asking these questions, record the information and update it as you learn more about your family health history. 

The CDC offers a free web-based tool called My Family Health Portrait, to help you organize the information. My Family Health Portrait also allows you to share this information easily with your doctor and other family members.

Once you have collected this information, you can then discuss these concerns with your doctor and make plans for screening tests and other examinations. 

Start the conversation this Thanksgiving with your loved ones and help each other learn more about your family health history to keep each other healthy for years to come!

Fatigue, brain fog, joint pain? You may be suffering from long-Covid

Asymptomatic Covid-19 and “long-Covid” are becoming a greater concern as many may be suffering from the virus without even knowing. 

Asymptomatic Covid and long-Covid have been flying under the radar however, the affects of both should not be overlooked. It’s estimated that 1 in 3 people who have Covid-19 are asymptomatic. Asymptomatic Covid is more likely to occur in healthy and younger age groups, including children and in households where another member has contracted Covid. Individuals who have been in contact with others who have tested positive for the virus but do not display symptoms after contact could be asymptomatic. 

Additionally, about a fifth of asymptomatic individuals went on to develop what has been termed “long-Covid,” according to an analysis by FAIR Health. Current research suggests older individuals are more likely to contract long Covid, but it has been found in many younger individuals as well. Data from a study conducted by King’s College London found that 1-2% of people in their 20s who had the virus would develop long Covid. For people in their 60s that number increased to about 5%. Long-Covid has also been found to be twice as common among women according to the BBC. 

Photo by Liza Summer from Pexels

What is long-Covid and how does it affect the body? 

Long-Covid is characterized by symptoms continuing for more than 12 weeks after infection which cannot be explained by another cause. Those who contracted Covid and were asymptomatic may not even know they are suffering from long-Covid afterwards. 

“There’s a myth out there that it only occurs with severe COVID, and obviously it occurs far more frequently in mild COVID,” said Eric Topol, founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, in an article with National Geographic

Many symptoms of long-Covid are often overlooked or written off as unrelated making the syndrome hard to pin down. Long-Covid can include a large range of symptoms such as pain, breathing difficulties, fatigue, brain fog, dizziness, sleep disturbance, and hypertension.

These symptoms can range from mild to severe and can impact your daily life, making ordinary tasks more difficult, and in extreme cases can lead to debilitating effects such as hallucinations, skin conditions, short-term memory loss, insomnia, hearing and vision changes, and gastro-intestinal problems.

Other symptoms according to the CDC, include: 

  • Cough
  • Joint pain
  • Chest pain
  • Memory, concentration or sleep problems
  • Muscle pain or headache
  • Fast or pounding heartbeat
  • Loss of smell or taste
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Fever
  • Worsened symptoms after physical or mental activities

The potential debilitating effects of long-Covid is cause for concern and individuals should keep an eye out for any changes to their health, even if they do not believe they have contracted Covid-19.

You might be interested: Brain fog can be alerting you about these medical conditions

Diagnosing and treating long-Covid 

While the cause of long-Covid is not yet known, experts theorize that the infection may make some people’s immune systems “go into overdrive,” attacking other parts of the body while combating the virus. 

Another theory presented in a BBC article stated that “fragments of the virus could remain in the body, possibly lying dormant and then becoming reactivated.” However, there is little evidence to support this theory at the moment.

The range of long-Covid’s symptoms has made it difficult to detect and treat. BBC reported that a study conducted by University College London found “200 symptoms affecting 10 organ systems in people with long Covid.”

According to Melissa Pinto, associate professor in the Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing at University of California Irvine, researchers found that some people who tested positive for Covid-19 but hadn’t reported symptoms at the time of infection  later came in with symptoms associated with long-Covid. 

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

In diagnosing long-Covid, researchers and medical professionals must first test for any other underlying or preexisting conditions that may be causing symptoms.

Ann Parker, assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins and a specialist in post-acute COVID-19 care, said, “When a patient comes to see us, we do a very thorough evaluation because we still don’t know exactly what to attribute to COVID and what might be a pre-existing underlying syndrome. The last thing I want to have happen is to say to a patient, yes, this is because you had COVID and miss something else that we could have addressed.”

We are only just beginning to understand the effects of long-Covid and how to detect and treat it. With so much still unknown, it is important for individuals who have contracted Covid-19 to continue monitoring their health even after recovery. For those who may have been asymptomatic, you may not even know you had Covid or have long-Covid. In this case, individuals who have been in contact with people who tested positive for the virus should consider getting tested even if no symptoms are present. 

schools reopen

Schools reopen this fall: Is it safe? 

New Jersey announces students will be back for full-time, in-person for the 2021-2022 school year as schools reopen statewide. 

It’s time to say goodbye to virtual learning as schools reopen this fall. According to the official site of the state of New Jersey, schools will be reopening full-time and in-person for the upcoming school year. Schools first closed back in March 2020, when the pandemic began and instruction moved online. Throughout the 2020 – 2021 school year, the majority of NJ schools remained virtual or offered hybrid learning options, with a mix of in-person and virtual students. Now, officials say parents or guardians will not be able to opt children out of in-person instruction for this upcoming school year. 

Photo by MChe Lee on Unsplash

The closing of schools last year led to mixed responses from parents and families. Some welcomed the opportunity to spend more time with their children. Others worried about the quality of their children’s education and wondered if virtual learning would be enough to keep children on track. Many working parents also struggled, juggling homeschooling and working from home. And parents who did not have the luxury to work from home faced the challenge of finding childcare for their children amid the pandemic. 

Now, schools are reopening, and feelings are once again mixed. Some worry that it’s not safe, especially with new, stronger COVID-19 variants spreading quickly across the globe, such as the more contagious Delta variant that has been particularly infectious among the young and unvaccinated–aka the prime population of students. Other parents are glad to see a sense of normalcy return to their children’s lives and routines. 

Regardless of where you stand in the debate, without the option to opt out of in-person learning this year, it is important for NJ parents to familiarize themselves with the new rules, guidelines, and safety precautions that will be in place for students this fall. 

Safety precautions for returning students 

According to NJ.gov, all students, educators, staff, and visitors will be required to wear face masks inside of school buildings, regardless of vaccination status, for the start of the 2021-2022 academic year.  Effective Monday, August 9, 2021, masks are required in the indoor premises of all public, private, and parochial preschool, elementary, and secondary school buildings, with limited exceptions.

Exceptions to the mask requirement include:

  • When doing so would inhibit the individual’s health, such as when the individual is exposed to extreme heat indoors;
  • When the individual has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove a face covering without assistance;
  • When a student’s documented medical condition or disability, as reflected in an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Educational Plan pursuant to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, precludes use of a face covering;
  • When the individual is under two (2) years of age;
  • When an individual is engaged in an activity that cannot be performed while wearing a mask, such as eating and drinking or playing an instrument that would be obstructed by the face covering;
  • When the individual is engaged in high-intensity aerobic or anerobic activity;
  • When a student is participating in high-intensity physical activities during a physical education class in a well-ventilated location and able to maintain a physical distance of six feet from all other individuals; or
  • When wearing a face covering creates an unsafe condition in which to operate equipment or execute a task.

Additionally, the Department of Education, in partnership with the Department of Health, has produced a health and safety guidance document detailing recommendations designed to provide a healthy and safe environment for students and staff during the 2021-2022 school year.

These strategies are recommendations, not mandatory standards. The absence of one or more of these strategies should not prevent school facilities from opening for full-day, in-person operation.

You might be interested: Reopening schools during Covid-19? Educator and activist Maria Santiago-Valentin weighs in

Vaccinations, social distancing, and more: Will it be enough? 

Alongside the mask mandate, schools will also be enforcing social distancing, promoting vaccinations and testing, and encouraging parents and caregivers to monitor their children for symptoms. 

Vaccinations are currently not required, however strongly encouraged for students and staff who are eligible to be vaccinated. Since most K-12 schools will have a mixed population of fully vaccinated, partially vaccinated, and unvaccinated individuals at any given time, schools will require the layering of preventive measures to protect individuals who are not fully vaccinated. This will include social distancing within the classroom and an effort to screen and report when children are displaying symptoms. Caregivers are encouraged to actively keep watch of their child’s health and report symptoms to the school. Students who are sick should not attend school until symptoms subside. 

All these precautions are crucial to ensuring the safety of students as they return to full-time, in-person instruction. It is unclear if schools will remain fully open throughout this upcoming school year, however, for now, we can say goodbye to virtual learning as schools reopen for this fall. 

For information on the status of school reopenings in other states, be sure to visit your state’s official website. To check for your state’s mask mandate, see here

Latina entrepreneur achieves American Dream growing healthy food

Cindy Cruz Agropek founder and CEO in Puerto Rico

Cindy Cruz Agropek founder and CEO in Puerto Rico

Cindy Cruz Torres is the CEO of Agropek LLC, a small agricultural business dedicated to the cultivation, harvest, and sale of healthy food. Cindy, one of AccessLatina Accelerator finalists, has proven once again that hard work, perseverance and dedication can overcome any obstacle and bring success. However, the road to success for Cindy was anything but easy.

According to the Brookings Institution, nearly 13 percent of the US population is foreign born accounting for nearly 40 million individuals. Immigrants coming to the USA are allured by the American Dream, the belief that if they work hard and play by the rules, they can achieve success.

This belief universally resonates in many people like Cindy Cruz. Even though there is no guarantee that they will achieve success, Cindy stands at the top of the heap revealing that the American Dream is still alive and well.

So how did it all start?

According to Cruz, she was not a business-minded person and like many nationals from Puerto Rico, had little money working for someone else. However, the economic crisis in 2010 led to her being laid off.

“At the time I was pregnant with my first child. Living with my parents gave the time to ponder about my future,” she recalls, and soon the first seeds of a business venture evolved in her mother-in-law’s backyard.

She glanced over the landscape and thought that perhaps she should venture into the agriculture business. Locally, there was a serious shortage of quality foods; however, Cindy had no acumen in business, had never taken any economic classes and knew of no one in business.

“I did not even know what being an entrepreneur meant and had no idea how to start a business,” she shared with LIBizus.

Facing the challenges to achieve healthy food

Agropek workers healthy food

Cindy with Agropek workers in beautiful Puerto Rico

Although she had attended the University of Puerto Rico in Ponce and obtained degrees in accounting and forensic psychology, Cindy faced a major obstacle, lack of capital investment.

Everyone she spoke to asked about prior experience in agriculture and her business plan, none of which she had.

But most importantly, her biggest challenge was lack of confidence, great insecurity and the fear of failing. “I did not have a lot of savings and it would destroy many lives if I lost everything in a foolish business venture,” she affirmed.

She did not know what the toll of a new business venture would have on her lifestyle and pregnancy. Would she be able to cope as a mother, wife, daughter and business woman all at the same time?

Preparing for the future takes time and investment

Cindy then spent the next few months reading about her potential future business in agriculture. She spoke to many people, read the local laws, invested in workshops and seminars. She spoke to other business people and her family.

“The conclusion was that if I did not try I would never know,” she recalls. She was keenly aware that the path to any business was fraught with difficulty because the economy was poor and unpredictable.

In 2010, she finally launched Agropek on a small scale offering non-processed foods. However, her competitive edge was that her products were distinguished by quality and freshness. Then in 2015 Agropek added new products as processed (value-added products).

Within a few months, her customers started to make positive comments about the high nutritional value and durability of the healthy food. Over the next few years, her business started to expand.

By 2015, she had enlisted several other Latino business women to help start other stores in Puerto Rico. Today, Agropek is a profitable business that has created jobs for Latinos and Americans as well.

Looking back at the past five years, Cindy points out that her success was largely due to her ability to function as a leader who was able to multitask.

“I knew that failure was not an option and had prepared well for the business, despite having no background in the corporate world,” she shares.

Reaping what you sow

Value-added products are natural with no preservatives

Value-added products are natural with no preservatives

Today, she continually faces challenges but is not afraid to tackle them. “Success,” she says, “ also builds confidence.”

Even though she initially aimed her business at Latinos, the overwhelming popularity of her products has attracted people of all races and cultures. She strongly feels there is a need for more Latino women to enter the business world because there are opportunities for those who work hard.

“Latino women have always had the ‘work-hard’ spirit , one virtue which is difficult to find. For Latinas who want to venture into business, I encourage them to create good work ethics and develop strong social bonds. There will be disappointments and failures along the way, but the path for those who persist is marked with success,” Cindy said.

As to why Agropek has succeeded when there are so many other similar businesses, Cindy believes her foods are focused on “Healthy and Responsible Eating.”

What makes a good entrepreneur? “A successful entrepreneur should have the following qualities: passion, vision and perseverance. My favorite quote, which she abides by in daily life is, ‘Make a habit of helping others, or at least to do no harm’,” she shared.

As our politicians continue to debate the economic benefits of Hispanic immigrants, they should constantly be reminded that many profitable American companies were developed by individuals born outside continental USA such as Cindy.

Foreign born individuals are more likely to start a business than someone born in the USA. Businesses like one that Cindy Cruz operates also employ many Americans. Her success epitomizes that even today, one can achieve the American Dream.

 


affordable care act, medicare, indetity theft

Identity theft in healthcare coverage

affordable care act, medicare, indetity theftBy Lisa Weintraub Schifferle
Attorney, FTC

October and November are the time of year when you need to pay attention to your healthcare coverage. Whether you need to switch, revise or renew your health coverage, here are some important tips from the Consumer Information page at the Federal Trade Commission.

It’s open season for everyone who wants to switch health coverage. As you select your health insurance plan, watch out for scams. Whether you are on Medicare, selecting a plan through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or have private insurance, here are some tips to help you more safely navigate the open enrollment season.

Affordable Care Act

If you are shopping in the Health Insurance Marketplace, only shop at HealthCare.gov. People who try to sign you up elsewhere may be scammers. If you’re overwhelmed, you can find free official helpers at HealthCare.gov. Official helpers will never ask for money or try to sell you a particular plan.

Another important tip: the government will not call to sell you health insurance. And no one from the government will ask you to verify your Social Security number or bank information over the phone.

Private insurance

If you’re looking for health insurance, make sure that’s what you’re buying. Be on the lookout for medical discount plans. They’re not the same as health insurance, even though they sometimes pretend to be. Many of these plans are scams that don’t deliver on the services promised. Others are just a way for identity thieves to get your personal information. Your state insurance commissioner’s office can tell you if a plan isn’t insurance and whether the seller is licensed in your state.

Medicare

A variety of scams take advantage of Medicare recipients. Here are a few:

  • An “official Medicare agent” knocks on your door selling Medicare insurance that can save you money. Stop. It’s a scam. There are no Medicare sales representatives. It’s probably someone who wants to use your information to commit fraud or identity theft.
  • Someone calls and says you must join their prescription plan or else you’ll lose your Medicare coverage. Don’t believe it. The Medicare prescription drug plan (also known as Part D) is voluntary.
  • Someone calls claiming that you need to give your Medicare number in order for you to keep your Medicare coverage under ACA. It’s a scam. Don’t give your personal information over the phone. If you need help with Medicare, call 1-800-MEDICARE or go to medicare.gov.

Report health care scams

If you think you may be a victim of a health care scam, report it to the FTC. If the scam is Medicare-related, report it at medicare.gov.

If you gave out personal information, then call your banks, credit card providers, health insurance company, and credit reporting agencies immediately. The FTC’s website has more information on health care scams and medical identity theft.

(Read this information in Spanish here.)