Cultivate Small Business Supports Female Entrepreneurs


What began in August 2022 as a social media post from Santander Group Executive Chairman Ana Botín, grew into a once-in-a-lifetime event for five graduates of Santander US’ Cultivate Small Business (“CSB”) program. After Ana highlighted Tresia Smith, one of the 2022 CSB New York graduates, on LinkedIn, Tresia and Ana exchanged messages, prompting the idea of Ana and Tresia meeting in person.

On Oct. 17, in conjunction with Women in Small Business Month, Ana spent time with several CSB entrepreneurs (including Tresia), hosted at The Food Arts Center – a shared kitchen space in , Manhattan, NY, utilized by one of the participating small business owners, Tania Lopez of Coqui the Chef.

Along with Tresia and Tania, Ana also met Nicole and Carly DiLena of DiLena’s Dolcini, and Julie Wolf of MIX’T Snacks. In a conversation moderated by Santander US’ Head of Small Business Banking, Christina DeLay, the women spent time reflecting on the importance of the food industry in local economies, the challenges women entrepreneurs face, as well as the unique perspectives women bring to business ownership.

“It was striking to learn firsthand how Santander’s Cultivate Business program, our largest philanthropic initiative in the US, has helped them rethink and grow their businesses. They came out of this accelerator initiative with a clearer vision or, as Tresia put it, ‘I came to the program as a cook and left as a businesswoman.’ Santander´s grant was the first one she ever received.”

Ana Botín
Santander Group Executive Chairman

Since 2017 Santander US’ Cultivate Small Business program has helped early-stage, underserved food-based entrepreneurs and business owners. The program offers a 12-week industry-specific education taught by MBA professors through our university partners, as well as resources, networking and mentorship from industry experts. Additionally, graduates receive untethered capital grants to help their businesses grow. In the last year, the program has expanded to seven key markets across Santander’s footprint, including Boston, New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Rhode Island, Dallas and Miami. By December 2022, Santander will have mobilized $1.2 million in capital grants allocated directly to the 360 graduates of the program.

Learn more about Cultivate Small Business, and follow the entrepreneurs who met Ana.

Nicole and Carly Dilena, DiLena’s Dolcini
Website: Instagram: @dilenasdolcini

Tania Lopez, Coqui the Chef
Website: Instagram: @coquithechef

Tresia Smith, Tresia’s Catering

Website: Instagram: @tresiascatering

Julie Wolf, MIXT Snacks

Website: Instagram: @mixtsnacks

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