The challenge of keeping a business afloat today cannot be overstated. Yet, business leaders persist not only to continue putting food on the table, but also to promote something they strongly believe in that has value in other people’s lives. This is true for Francis Almeda, a passionate entrepreneur who has been inspiring others to “start something”.

Francis acknowledges the importance of a support system for people to continue pursuing their passion. He has been fostering valuable relationships and a sense of community among AAPIs through Side Practice Coffee.

Apart from the good cup of coffee it offers, it is a creative hub that allows people to start or work on their side practice. SPC is more than a coffee shop, it is a fashionably low-key support group based on the corner of Foster and Damen in Ravenswood. Francis believes that his purpose is to share his knowledge as an entrepreneur and creative that could help those who want to walk the same path. Though, more than anything, he simply is an avid believer in everyone’s talents. He is there to give that little push especially to those who are part of the AAPI community.

Several artists, makers, builders, and entrepreneurs in the community have worked with him. The SPC team proudly shares their work, holding pop-ups every weekend that mostly features different crafts from AAPIs. With SPC, Francis gave a voice to those who didn't have one or just needed someone louder to share their work. SPC was a stepping stone for many that helped their businesses get started.

What does Francis receive in return? A tight-knit, flourishing community. He also evolved as a listener, a mentor, and a leader thanks to all the inspiring stories he has come across with. In fact, he’s been quite shy and reserved in the past about being someone that people look up to. He just eventually learned to step up as an #AsianWhoCAN brew both coffee and dreams to still be able to give back in this unique time.

Francis wants to shed some light on the possibility of creating something tangible--something that wouldn’t come to life if a person who can do it lacks courage. “With creativity, entrepreneurship, and talent, we can start to share who we are through our work and ultimately shine light on our heritage,” he said. He is no fairy godfather, but he can be anyone’s doting brother who expresses love through a well-brewed coffee.

May 24, 2021

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