From Mathew Harkins. Email him at mharkins[AT]borderstan.com.
Back in 2010, Wesley Tahsir-Rodriguez moved to Washington, DC for a job in health policy. In addition to bringing along the suits and books that many of us carry to DC, Tahsir-Rodriguez brought along his food business, Los Verracos Foods, a caterer and supper club with ambitions for selling products at retail shops around DC.
Tahsir-Rodriguez started Los Verracos in New Jersey not that long before he made his move to DC. He chose pork as the unifying meat and then brought together the flavors of his respective cultures (Puerto Rican and Guyanese for Tahsir-Rodriguez).
A Start at DC Grey Markets
Since then, Los Verracos has slowly grown in popularity while Tahsir-Rodriguez has maintained his day job in HIV/AIDS policy. He has brought Los Verracos to three DC Grey Markets, participated in different events around town and has even brought his culinary creations to a handful of places around the country.
But for all the excitement and praise, Los Verracos has continued to struggle for the funding that will offer stability and growth through marketing, advertising and a push in different kinds of food sales.
A Kiva Zip Loan to Expand
On April 29, Tahsir-Rodriguez listed Los Verracos on Kiva Zip and began fundraising. Just three days later, on May 2, the $5,000 loan had been fully funded. Tahsir-Rodriguez says, “We raised [the loan] in record time. No one has raised it in three days before.” As is required for all loans on Kiva Zip, Los Verracos has a trustee (Union Kitchen) that vouches for their credibility.
One of the major steps Tahsir-Rodriguez is planning to take with this loan is to begin the production and sale of Argentinean alfajores cookies. The idea is to rent commercial kitchen space from Union Kitchen where he will be able to begin large-scale production of these cookies. He will then look to sell them in food trucks, through different online venues and eventually in grocery stores. This will help to spread the Los Verracos name and brand faster and further than simply through unique events.
According to his Kiva Zip page, the rest of the loan is intended to go toward graphic and packaging design.
Like the best of us, Tahsir-Rodriguez says “I’d like this to be a family owned business that can grow and succeed in any economic environment.” It’s a pitch that’s easy to understand and can even make the food taste better.