Supporting entrepreneurial dreams – the story of Juana Haydee Lazo de Brunes

Entrepreneurial ecosystems, Upskilling and Reskilling
In Southeastern El Salvador in municipality of Santa Rosa de Lima, a hot dog cart has become a gastronomic oasis for hundreds of local residents and tourists travelling through the city. This venture called "Los Lacitos" – meaning little ties – has changed the life of its founder Juana Haydee Lazo de Brunes in a way no one could have imagined.

Born in Anamoros La Unión, the 32-year-old has shown that with an entrepreneurial spirit and a desire to learn one can overcome any obstacle. Her story is an inspiration to many in her community and beyond.

The beginning of "Los Lacitos" started in May 2021. Since then, the small hot dog business has grown to a loyal clientele of approximately 400 people a month. Customers, young and old, come to enjoy their delicious and affordable dishes. But what makes this venture even more special is the story of its founder and her unwavering commitment to her family.

Before diving into the world of gastronomy, Juana worked alongside her husband in a photography studio, earning a modest salary of USD 400 per month. Her love of cooking and the desire to generate additional income led her to become an entrepreneur.

Juana's passion for cooking stemmed from experience; it is based on online research and recipes passed down from her family. Her husband, Felix Antonio Brunes, encouraged her to turn her love of food into a profitable business. They started helping a relative with a hot dog stand in the city of Usulutan but as the partnership did not prosper Juana was forced to take over the hot dog business, and "Los Lacitos" was born.

However, Juana faced a major obstacle when she decided to emigrate to the United States in 2018 in search of a better life. She left behind her husband and four children in El Salvador as she ventured out on her own.

"I decided to untertake this journey on my own and I did it with the intention to improve our economic prospects, but it didn't go well. The idea was that I would arrive first and my family would then follow. It was a very difficult decision to leave my children and my husband because as a mother leaving your children is difficult, I didn't make it to the United States, I got as far as Mexico, and from there they returned me to El Salvador."
Juana Haydee Lazo de Brunes

Her dream of a better life in the US crumbled when she made it only as far as Mexico before being deported back to her country. This experience, though challenging, made her rethink her future and focus on building her business at home.

It was then that Juana learned about the Gene-Sis project through her husband. The project's business incubation programme trained her in a range of essential skills for successful entrepreneurship, from financial planning to cost management and customer loyalty.

Thanks to the project, she attended the Universidad de Oriente in San Miguel, where she took classes for several months.

"It was difficult for me, because leaving the house in the morning, sending three children to school and leaving the little one at home was tedious, but with a lot of sacrifice I made it."

The journey was arduous as she had to take a one-hour long bus ride from Santa Rosa de Lima to the university. The sacrifices she and her family made fuelled Juana's determination to learn and improve her business.

One of the most valuable aspects she learned was about costs and understanding her target market. Juana learned to break down all the expenses involved in her business and to identify opportunities to increase her profit margins. The project also helped her acquire essential equipment for her business, including a food processor and a stainless steel workbench. This allowed her to be more efficient in the preparation of her dishes, saving her time and money.

"Since the entrepreneurship training, I have increased my sales by 20% but I have also invested 40% in improving my business. I learned how to be more productive. I was one of the winners in the entrepreneurial challenge with a prize of USD 1500."
Juana Haydee Lazo de Brunes

Today, Juana operates two hot dog carts in Santa Rosa de Lima. Her customers consider her a beacon of quality and authenticity in a city where food is a serious business. In addition to her main business, Juana also offers catering services for local events.

The success of "Los Lacitos" has not only transformed Juana's life, but has also allowed her husband, Felix, to work alongside her to maintain and grow the business. They are now able to provide a better education and quality of life for their four children.

Juana Haydee Lazo de Brunes' story is an inspiring testimony of determination, perseverance and love for family. Through the support of Nuevas Oportunidades' Gene-Sis project, she was able to turn her passion for cooking into a successful business that also provides stability for her family.

Her story is a reminder that with the willingness to learn and an entrepreneurial spirit, challenges can be overcome and success can be achieved anywhere in the world. Juana Haydee Lazo de Brunes continues to inspire others to follow their dreams and turn their passions into entrepreneurial realities.

This project is financed by the Medicor Foundation, Green Leaves Education Foundation, and Däster-Schild Foundation, among other donors. It is part of the Swisscontact Development Programme, which is co-financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Federal Department of Foreign Affairs FDFA.  

El Salvador
Labour market insertion, Upskilling and Reskilling, Entrepreneurial ecosystems, Migration
Gene-Sis: Creating new opportunities for returned migrants
This project addresses one of the most pressing humanitarian crises in Central America. Thousands of migrants are forced every year to return to their home countries. Back in their country, many returning migrants face difficulties: although most returnees have no criminal background, the deportees are perceived as criminals by their fellow citizens and have difficulty integrating into the labour market. At the same time, these practically experienced skilled workers bear great potential as there is a demand for qualified workers in growing economic sectors.
El Salvador, Guatemala
Labour market insertion, Migration
Nuevas Oportunidades: productive reintegration of returned migrants
The project seeks the economic reintegration of returned migrants. It enables returned migrants to certify the skills they have acquired in the United States or Mexico. After certification, they are supported in finding a job or starting their own business.