Colombian Daniel Cepeda Mejía was destined to be a businessman. He was born in Bogotá 41 years ago, has been married to Paola Andrea Rincón for nearly 20 and they have 4 children. “Ever since I was a child I wanted to have a company, but I began to realize it wasn’t easy; before I set up Tu Carrito Ofiexpress there were two attempts that didn’t work out”, recounts Daniel Cepeda, remembering that he had the original idea of setting up a trolley from which to sell food and beverages 10 years ago, when he was the soft drinks supplier for events in an organization.
Names of big multinationals such as Coca-Cola figured at the beginning of Daniel’s working life: “one of the jobs I had was store-to-store sales and the sun was really hot, not having money was also really hard; you reached the middle of the month, and you still had another two weeks before the next pay check. Looking after four children wasn't at all straightforward either", recalls this entrepreneur, whose life changed five years ago.
When the company for which he worked started putting in orders for its employees with him, the seed of a new enterprise in food products was planted. “Then they put us in contact with Bancamía so that we could offer them our service, with the added value that all the people working there could buy essential food at their workplace, without having to travel long distances, making the most of their time and eating fresh, healthy food”, continues this entrepreneur.
So Daniel built a cart on wheels, to carry fruit, packaged food, sandwiches and desserts around all the offices at Bancamía’s headquarters in Bogotá. His wife Paola was the first person to open it for business in July 2010. The take-up was instantaneous and very positive, with people asking for a wider range of products. It was then that Bancamía offered them a loan so that they could grow their production unit.
The effort and hard work have paid off. In the five years of operations, Daniel Cepeda’s business has expanded its services to other companies; now they have eight carts selling food and beverages to seven organizations: “it is hugely satisfying for us when we recall that at the beginning we didn’t have the facilities to work in the most efficient way possible but that now, although the premises are not ours, we have an area for getting the product ready, a storeroom and offices. What is more, in our micro-enterprise, 90% of the women are the main breadwinners in their family, and their working terms and conditions are fully in compliance with the law”, notes the entrepreneur.
Creating jobs is one of Daniel’s greatest satisfactions; he adds: “it is so great to be providing a job instead of asking for one”. He currently provides employment to 13 people who work every day in something which started off as a good idea, a great dream to be built up and that has come true.
“Thanks to the first Bancamía loan we were able to get our company off the ground; to start with, the cart service only had a few products and we couldn’t buy directly from suppliers; now with four credit solutions that the bank has offered us, our business has grown much more than we could ever have imagined”.
Daniel won the 2015 Citi Micro-entrepreneurship Award in the Trade category, which recognizes growth in small companies having a high impact on economic development in regions, families or communities. He was nominated by Bancamía itself.