Located in the heart of Costa Rica, San José is home to exquisite architecture, lush rainforests, and friendly locals. It is also home to an abundance of entrepreneurs and bustling small businesses. One family-owned business in particular stands out to its community—Costa Rica Beer Factory, co-founded six years ago by Mónica Mendoza and Jaime Zuluaga as just a small restaurant. Today, Costa Rica Beer Factory has four restaurants, a brewery, a small distributorship, and an event venue that hosts craft beer fests and other cultural events. Costa Rica Beer Factory is just one example of when government reduces or removes barriers entirely, small businesses can prosper beyond their wildest dreams.
While they pride themselves on CRBF’s delicious meals and assortment of craft beers, what the Zuluaga family is most proud of is what they rally together to do on Thursdays. The CRBF team sets up a street kitchen, feeding the homeless and needy in what many in Costa Rica call the roughest neighborhood in the country. Distributing food is often a frantic process for the Zuluaga family and their team, but “Foundation Day,” as they call the weekly gathering, is certainly a rewarding experience as they give back to their community by serving hundreds of meals to people in need.
The Atlas Network team and Luis Loria of the Instituto de Desarrollo Empresarial y Acción Social (IDEAS), a San José-based free market think tank, met the Zuluaga family on one of these Thursdays. IDEAS led a widespread effort to remove barriers to doing business, and their success at improving access to credit has had an enormous impact on small businesses like CRBF.
Over a hundred people were already waiting. It became clear that CRBF’s work goes well beyond providing meals as the Zuluaga family embraced familiar visitors and graciously welcomed new ones. As people continued to come by for a meal, Mónica explained, “our success allows us to do this, but we want to do even more.”
Mónica and her team were prepared with boxes and boxes of bowls, utensils, and cups, but it is still standard for them to run out on the nights with the most traffic. Nevertheless, their spirits are always high as they see the positive impact that their success is having on this struggling community.
The hard work by Mónica, Jaime, and the entire Zuluaga family is an example of how a small business can flourish when barriers are eliminated and entrepreneurs are given the tools to succeed.
Costa Rica Beer Factory is more than just a beer lover’s paradise. The hard work by Mónica, Jaime, and the entire Zuluaga family is an example of how a small business can flourish when barriers are eliminated and entrepreneurs are given the tools to succeed. And with an ever-growing platform, the Zuluaga family is making the most out of their success by uplifting the communities that need it the most—and inspiring other small businesses to prevail.
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