Esther Aguigui

Esther Aguigui

Six outstanding business people were honored at the 29th U.S. Small Business Administration's Guam awards Monday.

The business duo behind Archway Inc., which owns Infusion Coffee and Tea, won the award for the SBA Guam branch's Small Business Persons of the Year and earned a spot in the competition for SBA's national Small Business Person of the Year award this year.

The company was founded in 2003 with the I Love Guam brand and opened its first drive-through coffee shop on Guam in 2008. President Richard Chan thanked the SBA and pledged the company would continue its eco-friendly mission. The brand promotes environmentally friendly promotions such as discounts for customers who bring their own cups and biodegradable products for food containers and utensils.

"We hope we have enriched your lives as you have ours," Chan said.

Archway Vice President Mika Caldwell spoke of being a product of the Guam public school system and a graduate of the University of Guam. She said her 16-year business partnership with Chan has been an integral part of the business' success. Caldwell also spoke of their appreciation of the hard work and dedication of the company's more than 100 employees.

"When small businesses win, we all win," Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero said at the event. She spoke of the importance small businesses play in the local economy.

Del. Michael San Nicolas pointed out that five of the six winners are women. He urged the community to continue to support small businesses on Guam.

Ursula Herrera, the owner of ChamGlam Botanika, a business that incorporates local natural ingredients into its beauty products, was awarded Home-Based Business Champion of the Year. Herrera named her grandmother as the inspiration of her business and said the mission of her business is "to heal."

Josephine L. Mariano, senior vice president of Central Operations at the Bank of Guam, won the award for Financial Services Champion of the Year. She said was "grateful" for the many decades she has been with the bank. Mariano said she saw the bank grow through many challenges through the years to become the institution it is today with 600 employees and $2 billion in assets.

Attorney Vanessa L. Williams was awarded Women in Business Champion of the Year. Williams recalled the humble beginnings of her parents and said success "takes a village" because "no person is an island to themselves." She thanked the founders of the Guam Women's Chamber of Commerce for inspiring her in her career.

Guam National Guard Col. Esther Aguigui took the Veteran Small Business Champion of the Year award. Aguigui gave her acceptance speech via a video played during the ceremony because she was not on Guam. She said she was grateful for the honor considering the strong competition this year. Her spouse and young daughter accepted the award on her behalf.

SBA's Guam branch was created in 1990.

Speaker Tina Muña Barnes and Sen. Clynt Ridgell also attended the ceremony, held for the third year at the Guam Museum in Hagåtña.

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