Oakland Micro-Lending Effort Breeds ‘Chino-Latino’ Fusion Tamales

Oakland Micro-Lending Effort Breeds ‘Chino-Latino’ Fusion Tamales

OAKLAND (KCBS)— A “fusion taqueria” in downtown Oakland is the latest fruit of a unique micro-lending effort that is jumpstarting East Bay entrepreneurs.

Thanks to an interest-free loan, there is more interest than ever in the “Tamale Girl.”

Tina “Tamale Girl” Ramos and her Chinese-American partner have been whipping up what they call “Chino-Latino” food and selling it from carts at street fairs.

“Basically if you had a Latina grandmother; she went shopping in Chinatown and made you lunch,” Ramos said.

Oakland Micro-Lending Effort Breeds ‘Chino-Latino’ Fusion Tamales

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Their quesadillas are stuffed with char siu pork and the churros are made out of wontons. As of last night, Ramos is selling them at her new restaurant—La Snackeria in Old Oakland.

The city sponsored her for a micro-loan through a crowd funding site, Kiva Zip, so she could go from a pop-up to a start-up.

“What’s amazing about Kiva-Zip is how mindful they are of how entrepreneurship works. We’re really scrappy people. We try to figure out creative, interesting ways to make it happen,” she said.

Kiva began in Africa. So far, Oakland and Philadelphia are the only U.S. cities participating in the program.

Ramos calls herself a “third-generation tamale girl” whose dreams have come true.