Hispanic Heritage Month: Honoring Entrepreneur and Philanthropist Carmen Solano -DeCarrier

By: Ashmar Mandou

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local NewsEntrepreneur Carmen Solano -DeCarrier has developed quite the altruistic reputation for herself in roles, such as overseeing the Ronald McDonald House Charities Scholarships, mentoring young high school students, serving on the McDonald’s HACER Scholarship Program as well as establishing the Mia De Carrier Charitable Fund in honor of her daughter Mia who has autism. “Nothing gives me greater joy than to witness young Latinos across all neighborhoods the opportunity to succeed,” said Solano -DeCarrier.

Solano -DeCarrier is no stranger to seizing opportunities as she, at the age of 19, worked at McDonald’s while attending college and then climbed the corporate ranks to become the highest-ranking Latina in the Chicago Region for McDonald’s Corporation, currently owning more than ten locations and employing over 600 people. Her passion for business took years of cultivation as she worked for McDonald’s in all capacities. “I came from the Dominican Republic at a young age and nothing was more important to me than receiving my education and working hard,” said Solano -DeCarrier. “I learned a lot while working for McDonald’s, I met people from all walks of life, I gained so much experience, I worked at the back of the house, and I loved that moment of time.” Solano -DeCarrier decided to become a McDonald’s Franchisee amassing quite the fortune in the last 18 years. “I have to say in the beginning it was rather challenging,” laughed Solano -DeCarrier. “It was a struggle, overwhelming, we spoke to many people who shared their wisdom, and we hired an amazing accountant. The best part of the whole experience and it continues to be, is the sense of family we have created for ourselves and our community. It’s lovely to sit down with a cup of coffee and talk to people in the community we serve, to know their names, their stories, their dreams.”

Solano -DeCarrier’s ultimate passion is the ability to give back to the community that has given her so much. “I grew up in Chicago, I come from a working class family and I serve many working class families. It is wonderful to be able to give back in the form of scholarships, the form of mentorship because that has always been important to me. It’s important to connect with the younger generation of Latinos with dreams to become something great,” said Solano -DeCarrier. “There are so many challenges facing Latinos, it is evident today more than ever, so to be able to provide them with the opportunity to move ahead is an honor.”

Although these are unprecedented times leaving young Latinos with the burden to adapt, Solano -DeCarrier, earnest in her advice, offered up some pearls of wisdom during this uncertain time. “Stay focused on your dream. If you have the desire to become an entrepreneur then create a community of people who have those same aspirations, surround yourself with people who know more than you, who can journey you through this process,” said Solano-DeCarrier. “Ask a lot of questions, soak up as much as you can, and search out the people who will be able to guide you so you avoid the pitfalls many tend to make in the beginning of their careers. Follow your dreams, there is nothing stopping you.”

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