Helena Zerfu immigrated to Los Angeles from Ethiopia in 2004. After many years of working in the restaurant industry, she opened her own restaurant “Buna Ethiopian Market” in 2011. She realized immediately that her customers enjoyed the dishes she prepared using her family recipes. Though she was a master in preparing these wonderful dishes, Helena also realized that she had little knowledge of how to run a business. She came to PACE Women’s Business Center (WBC) looking to increase her business skills.
Helena enrolled in the five-week intensive Entrepreneur Training Program (ETP) and learned about how to run a successful business. She completed the program,but she continued her business training. She met one-on-one with PACE WBC Director, Swann Do. In 2014, PACE helped Helena secure a $21,000 Small Business Administration (SBA) microloan to upgrade her restaurant’s kitchen equipment.
In March of 2015, Buna Ethiopian Market was recognized in an LA Weekly list of ‘99 Essential Restaurants’ in Los Angeles. This recognition has helped her restaurant stand out in her neighborhood and her sales have more than doubled. Helena’s five-year plan now includes creating a more casual family-style menu and opening additional locations in Los Angeles. She contributes much of her success to great mentors and access to resources with the help of PACE Women’s Business Center.