Agua Bonita, the Afro-Latina-Owned Beverage Breaks the Fundraising Ceiling

Agua Bonita BELatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of newhope.com

If there’s one thing Latinas know, it’s that financing is the biggest obstacle to starting a business. We can handle it all — the family, the husband, the paperwork — but funding has always been a Berlin Wall between our plans and success.

In fact, despite being the fastest-growing and most influential segment of U.S. entrepreneurs, BIPOC women-owned startups receive only 2.7% of all venture funding, according to recent reports.

It’s even rarer for female founders to get investment in both seed and early-stage funding rounds. When funding finally comes in, these dreamers only receive 25% of what they ask for.

However, this appears to be changing.

As reported by Essence, just under a year after its launch, Agua Bonita, the Afro-Latina beverage company, has just announced its $1 million fundraisings. The funding was oversubscribed with key participants, including Convivialite Ventures, Cedar Capital, Supply Change Capital, and prominent celebrity endorsements.

This places founders Erin PonTell and Kayla Castañeda in an elite group, becoming the 59th Latina-founded company to raise more than $1 million in venture capital and Castañeda the second black founder in the CPG food and beverage category to raise more than $1 million.

“Agua Bonita is redefining the beverage category with the introduction of a healthy, no-added-sugar agua fresca, a drink that is a staple of the Latino community and one I certainly have retained an affinity for in adulthood. With a modern better-for-the-planet twist, they source upcycled fruits, bringing us what we know in a formulation that is better-for-us and dramatically reduces the environmental footprint of canned beverages. Shayna and I are thrilled to be investing in this talented team and to support the growth of their brand and business with our operations and supply chain expertise,” said Noramay Cadena, Managing Partner of Supply Change Capital, to Essence.

The company identifies itself as a leader in the ready-to-drink agua fresca category, the first of its kind.  Agua Bonita’s no-sugar-added beverages use imperfect or leftover products as a natural sweetener.

“We’re thrilled to be in a position to bring a beautiful, traditional part of our culture to the masses in a modern way. In a category that rarely sees innovation at scale, we are prioritizing health & wellness and encouraging consumer curiosity to bring people into our Bonita familia,” said Co-founder Kayla Castañeda.