Miami franchisees Cindy Zabala and Wilfredo Figueroa were recently profiled in the South Florida Business Journal.
Hopeless about the shortage of opportunities in Venezuela, Cindy Zabala and Wilfredo Figueroa decided to leave behind a “bad situation” in their native country to build new lives in the United States.
The newlyweds would immigrate to Florida, and Figueroa would leave for Miami on the day of the couple’s first wedding anniversary in 2005. Zabala would join her husband two months later.
The couple, originally from Caracas, left behind their friends and family members, who they are still trying to help move to the U.S. as Venezuela remains embroiled in political and economic woes. Zabala and Figueroa say the South American country is in a “much worse” state than when they left it.
“It was a sacrifice in the beginning, but we’re being rewarded now,” Figueroa told the South Florida Business Journal.
By the end of the year, the husband and wife will have opened two companies in Miami’s Kendall neighborhood, where they also live. It’s a feat they don’t believe they could have accomplished in Venezuela.
Figueroa is a new franchisee of Postal Connections and will open the chain’s first Miami store at 8765 S.W. 165th Ave. The South Florida office supplies retail store – which also offers mailing, IT and business services – is expected to debut Dec. 14.
In March, Zabala opened Grocers Group Corp., a wholesaler that exports foods to different countries. The company officially began operations in October.
The couple’s businesses employ two people each, and the entrepreneurs say they aim to hire more in the future. They expect to grow quickly as commercial and residential developments spring up around their businesses.
Before the husband and wife became entrepreneurs, Figueroa was rebuilding the IT career he left behind in Venezuela as a network engineer. Zabala, who aimed to be a lawyer before she arrived in the U.S., worked at an export company in Doral for eight years. The couple have a 6-year-old boy and 20-month-old girl together.
“Everything is for them,” Zabala said. “We’re happy to be here. It’s a lot of work, even though we have separate businesses, we help each other. Everything we do, we do it together.”
Things seem to be turning around politically for Venezuela, which may lead to fewer talented workers like Zabala and Figueroa leaving the country for better opportunities. Venezuela’s opposition, recently victorious in an election, vowed to revive the nation’s troubled economy after 16 years of socialist rule, according to Reuters.
“It looks like there’s going to be changes, so there’s a light at the end of the tunnel for our family who is still there,” Zabala said.