This Hispanic Heritage Month, we are proud to feature Colombian-owned home-based bakery, The Choclo. They participated in The Center’s Spanish cohort of the Digital Literacy Accelerator to gain the tools to reach their customers effectively.

Pilar Rengifo is the CEO of The Choclo, a gluten-free Colombian home-based bakery in California’s Bay Area. They offer freshly made bread, frozen dough, and flour mixes to make traditional Colombian cheese breads.

Pilar moved to the US from Colombia 20 years ago with her husband and two sons. Several years later, she began to suffer from health problems and was prescribed medication that she would need to take for the rest of her life. Alarmed at the medication’s potential side effects, Pilar began to look for natural alternatives.

Through lengthy research, Pilar discovered that a gluten-free diet might alleviate her ailments. She learned that corn, cassava, rice, and potatoes – all staples in Colombian cuisine – do not contain gluten. Pilar began experimenting with these ingredients to create traditional breads until she was satisfied with the results. Initially seeking natural remedies to alleviate her discomfort, Pilar saw the opportunity to realize her dream of owning a business.

After creating her formulas and learning about sourcing materials, Pilar began developing her business strategy. Two years later, her dream of business ownership became a reality. Her business has slowly grown since its founding. Pilar has introduced her Colombian products to the community, and it was her customers that have helped her expand. Today, Pilar’s breads can be found in cafes and supermarkets throughout the Bay Area. Her products are also available for home delivery anywhere in the US.

Digital literacy is crucial to the success of a small business in today’s technology-driven world. It’s not just about using technology, but understanding how to use it strategically to achieve business goals. Yet small businesses are often ill-equipped with the resources to do so effectively. That is why The Center launched the Digital Literacy Accelerator to help small business owners, like Pilar, effectively reach their customers.

As a person who is always looking for an opportunity to improve her business, Pilar participated in the Spanish cohort of the accelerator, where she gained knowledge in several areas, including how to improve her business’s existing website, how to utilize Google business profiles, implement email marketing, and optimize LinkedIn to attract more customers. Since completing the program, Pilar has seen an increase in views and engagement on The Choclo’s social media channels. She hopes to grow the number of local and nationwide businesses that sell her products.

“The Digital Literacy Accelerator program has changed how I see social networks and email marketing. The program helped me to focus on creating relevant content for our audience. The support I’ve received has allowed us to improve our social networks to focus on our goals.”

The Digital Literacy Accelerator is made possible with support from U.S. Bank and the California Office of the Small Business Advocate.

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September 19, 2023
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