One of the superpowers we Latinas are most proud of is our ability to juggle many things on many fronts. We wear many hats and manage to do it almost always in time. Just look at Marisol Villalobos Rivera, a supermom who heads her family and the successful eco-friendly and sustainable food brand Amasar.

It all began with a serendipitous trip to Italy with her husband, Jesús. Marisol realized her professional path was about to radically change, all thanks to breadfruit.

Loading the player...

Her journey to becoming an entrepreneur while raising three kids is both incredible and inspiring.

When the Universe’s signs are crystal clear

Marisol and her husband were on a work assignment in Italy for two years. As the Latina mom that she is, she was constantly worrying about what healthy and tasty foods she could serve her children. “I wanted their food to nurture their bodies,” she told FIERCE, admitting she was inspired by how Italians embraced and worshiped healthy eating.

“My godmother sent me a breadfruit all the way from Puerto Rico to Milan,” she remembers. “My family and I greatly enjoyed being able to eat it in Europe. I remember saying: ‘Hey, we could bring Breadfruit to Europe!'”

As she puts it, there were so many signs from the universe to start Amasar. “After the breadfruit my godmother sent to Milan arrived perfectly, we visited special friends in Spain. Breadfruit naturally became a topic of conversation again. We told our friends that we had [a] farm in Puerto Rico and could grow breadfruit there.”

Then, Marisol and her family attended a festival celebrating the saint of agriculture, San Isidro Labrador. “This was not intentional,” she said. “We knew nothing about the festival! Once I saw the saint, I remember saying, ‘We will do this – and it will be with breadfruit.'”

They got their hands ‘en la masa’ almost immediately

With a 20-acre farm in the heart of Puerto Rico, the challenge was now to finetune the product. “To start the farm, we had to first learn everything about the breadfruit crop itself,” Marisol explained. “This allowed us to work with other small farmers.” In fact, Amasar supports the growers of breadfruit in her homeland.

“Our breadfruit farm provides us with raw material essential in all of our products, based on the breadfruit flour we manufacture,” she explained. We have over 12 acres of breadfruit trees that are already in production. We also grow coffee, cocoa, and many varieties of bananas.”

However, Marisol and her husband’s first real challenge was figuring out how to process the breadfruit they harvested on their farm in Puerto Rico. Their goal was to turn it into “delicious flour.” 

This superfood, which we Latinos call Panapén, is widely planted in the Caribbean. Since the European navigators brought the seedless fruit to our communities, it has become a staple food in our culture. From building ships and houses, the breadfruit tree and fruit are deeply connected to our roots.

And this is part of the message behind Marisol’s brand, Amasar.

While there was “a lot of trial and error,” this fierce Latina persevered, organized focal groups and pilots, and embarked on “a lot of research and development.” Along with her husband, Marisol also participated in the Bravo Family Foundation’s Rising Entrepreneurs Program, which provided them with opportunities to grow both their knowledge as entrepreneurs and business as a whole.

A sustainable product for the family and the community

Marisol’s farming model is agroforestry and agroecological, which means they don’t apply chemicals or pesticides. Amasar’s foundation is also biodiverse in flora and fauna, focusing on sustainable farming practices, which Marisol describes as “very important” to their goal.

This mindset makes Amasar products different from the rest of the market. They are uniquely made out of breadfruit, all-natural, gluten-free, high in fiber, and with no added sugar. These products include pancake and waffle mixes and an all-purpose breadfruit mix.

The best part is that one of Amasar’s core values is family. “When our family is well, we are all well,” Marisol explains. You know how mothers are when it comes to their families! Family always comes first!” Amasar is a family agribusiness, and Marisol’s kids, who are in their twenties, are also engaged in the business.

And this Jefa has taught her kids by example. She had to take care of her dad until he passed away while raising her own family. And she did it all by self-organizing and identifying “all the helping hands you can count on.”

“Routines are very helpful for a family, especially those with small children who are finding the time to study and do homework,” she explains. “I strongly believe that the calendar is your best friend! Meal prepping is wonderful – especially with Amasar since you have great, nutritious options!”

Credit: Amasar.

And for other Latina entrepreneurs looking to create a successful business, Marisol has a couple of tips

For Marisol Villalobos Rivera, being a Latina entrepreneur “fills her heart with pride.” Knowing too well that health issues like cardiovascular conditions and diabetes affect the Latino communities, bringing a brand like Amasar to life is nothing short of an inspiring feat.

“Have respectful and clear communication with those in your inner circle,” Marisol says. “For example, at Amasar, we are very supportive when someone needs to step away to attend a special day for their child in school or to deal with the health issues of a family member.”

After all, family always comes first.

Finally, Marisol aspires for Amasar to be recognized as the healthiest and tastiest alternative flour option. She hopes to achieve this thanks to the breadfruit itself and through responsible, consumer-first, planet-friendly activities that contribute to food industry necessities.

“As an agribusiness, we also aim to increase the production of breadfruit in small farms throughout our Caribbean region,” she concludes. “The University of British Columbia predicts breadfruit will be the next superfood in the world. At Amasar, we have already embarked on this new breadfruit journey. We invite you all to be part of this breadfruit (pana) movement, as well!”