Michelle Cruz, owner of the East Harlem Cafe and Sharon Sinaswee, owner of Armada Building Services, Inc., both based in El Barrio/East Harlem, were profiled in two New York Daily News articles today, after being selected for an entrepreneurship program run by Goldman Sachs. Ms. Cruz and Ms. Sinaswee were two of 23 local businesses who received training and assistance through the “10,000 Small Businesses” program.
Below are excerpts from the articles. We congratulate these inspiring women for their participation in this program.
At age 9, Michelle Cruz decided that she would one day run her own business. The moment came while watching a TV program that showed some of the city’s blighted areas. An image flashed on the screen of her East Harlem neighborhood.
“I realized I was poor,” Cruz said. But she was determined to do better.
She studied accounting and pursued a career in banking while nurturing a dream to open her own restaurant.
Two and a half years ago, she opened the East Harlem Cafe at E. 104th St. and Lexington Ave. It’s become a community hub to see local musicians, artists and authors. A second cafe will be in the Caribbean Cultural Center when it relocates next year.
Sharon Sinaswee, the Trinidad-born owner of a small janitorial company in East Harlem, didn’t know what to expect last summer when she rode the elevator to the 43rd floor of the new headquarters of Goldman Sachs.
Then one of the most powerful execs in the world, Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein, sat next to her.
Sinaswee, the 42-year-old founder of Armada Building Services, was a member of the first class of an entrepreneurship program sponsored by Goldman called 10,000 Small Businesses. It was time for execs from the investment bank to read participants’ business plans. She’d been paired with Blankfein.
They spent an hour together as the Wall Street titan grilled her about her business. Among his tips: Sinaswee should cultivate a large pool of freelance handymen to tap at peak times.
“He said I was on the right track,” said Sinaswee, who recently added two employees to her four-person staff and scored a contract from the city’s Department of Education. “I was flattered that someone in that position was so interested in me.”