When Santiago “Santi” Castillo’s mother, Socorro, came to America in the 1990s, she brought with her a dream of one day owning her own business. Over the years, that dream would evolve from pushing a fruit cart, to running a fruit stand, to opening her own brick-and-mortar storefront: Las Delicias ICT, a small juice and ice cream shop situated inside a north Wichita, Kansas, strip mall.
“Coming from where we came from to where we are now, it’s taken so much,” says Santi, reflecting on his mom’s dream, which has since become the family’s dream. “We’re learning at the same time. We’ve all had to take a step back, improvise on the fly and learn together.”
With two years of experience working as a product control analyst with Koch Minerals and Trading, Santi has been able to take the skills and knowledge he’s gained as a Koch employee and apply some of the company’s Market-Based Management™ principles to the way his family runs Las Delicias. But there’s another way Koch has indirectly had an impact on the Castillo family’s small business, and that’s through the company’s partnership with Empower Evergreen.
Empower Evergreen is a nonprofit organization that launched in 2021 with a mission to provide educational programming, workforce development, life skills training, guidance and support to small businesses within Wichita’s North End Hispanic community – businesses just like Las Delicias. For Santi, working with Empower Evergreen is a mutually beneficial opportunity to better learn how he and his family can take their business to the next level. But it’s also a platform through which he can offer up his own experience and background as a resource for others.
“We’re in an area where the poverty rate is a little bit higher and a knowledge gap (exists) when it comes to different business practices in general,” says Santi. “I think this is going to help bridge that gap, letting people know that there are organizations, loans and different resources they can use to start their dreams and become successful.”
As Las Delicias continues to grow, so does the Castillo family’s dream for what it can ultimately become. As an entrepreneur, Socorro now sees a future where the business could expand across town, and across Kansas, as her north Wichita storefront remains a fixture in the Hispanic community. Because that community is the very reason Las Delicias exists today.
“We’ve said it many times, it’s just the beginning,” says Santi. “We want to give back more than anything – give back to our community and keep growing – because our community got us to where we are now. We also want to keep expanding and create an establishment on the north side that other businesses can look up to.”
Hear more from Santi and Socorro in this episode of The Picture, a Koch Industries Spotlight Series telling inspirational stories from Koch's hometown, Wichita, Kansas.