Acai Express

One Business, Triple the Ambition: Acai Express Osceola Launched and Growing

Florida SBDC at UCF Helps Three Entrepreneurial Sisters Secure Financing, Purchase Franchise, and Market to Profitability

April 11, 2024


Contact: Hal Thayer, Communications Director, FSBDC at UCF, 407.420.4850 or

Orlando, FL – Nurturing an idea into a profitable business is an entrepreneur’s dream. Turning that dream into a reality can be as challenging as it sounds, however, especially on your own. Sisters Peggy Dawas, Kattia Dawas and Katty Velez wanted to open their own business together but didn’t know how to begin. Fortunately, Peggy recalled her experience working with the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) and its office in Osceola County, FL, so they turned there for guidance. Today, they are glad they did, having become the proud owners of a very successfully launched Acai Express franchise at East Osceola Parkway in Kissimmee.

At Acai Express, the mission is to serve the best tasting, highest quality superfood bowls that go hand- in-hand with a lifestyle based around health and fun. “Our main ingredient is Acai,” describes Peggy Dawas, “a premium, Grade A, 100% organic fruit. It has a lot of flavor on its own, pure form at the same time it is healthy. Who can beat that? It’s what makes us different from all the rest.”

Acai Express’ menu is varied. “We have Acai Bowls of all types. Our top seller is the Valentine Bowl with Acai, granola, banana, strawberry, coconut oil, coconut flakes, and Nutella. It’s delicious and an explosion of flavors. It’s so good!” Peggy continued, with Katty adding “it’s everyone’s favorite” and Kattia chiming in “actually it’s my favorite too.” Other menu items include mango-based dragon fruit, artisan toast, coffee, Pikole premium popsicles, and lemonades.

“We sought assistance from the FSBDC because we had an idea and always wanted to own our own business. It was something we always talked about,” explains Katty Velez. “Peggy previously worked with FSBDC consultant Elly Membreno and said that ‘Elly can help us, can guide us, can give us all the information we need’ and that’s when we contacted her.”

“Our experience with the FSBDC was great,” Peggy shared. “They helped us with their consulting, with their training, with getting us all the tools we needed.” Jairo Batista, a second FSBDC consultant and its digital marketing expert, was brought in to assist with marketing. “We didn’t know where to start so he guided us on that aspect as well so we can promote our business,” Katty added.

Obtaining an SBA-guaranteed loan was critical to the sisters purchasing their Acai Express franchise, and the FSBDC assisted with that as well. “For us, what was a lot of help from the FSBDC was everything to do with the loan,” recalls Kattia Dawas. They helped us put together our loan package, from the business plan to the marketing plan, the financial information, everything, all the documents we needed. We had no clue at all how to do it and they helped us every single step to have the loan approved.”

Acai Express Osceola Parkway opened October 6. They reached break-even after three months, have hired eight employees, and sales continue to increase. “The feedback we have from our customers is amazing. Our plan for the future is to open a second store and also a third,” gushed Katty. ”Of course, we’re going to stick with the assistance from the FSBDC again,” she concluded, with Kattia and Peggy happily saying “yes” to that plan.

For information about Acai Express Osceola, please visit


About the FSBDC at UCF

Hosted by the University of Central Florida (UCF), and with its main office in the National Entrepreneur Center located at the Fashion Square Mall in Orlando, the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) is part of part of UCF’s Office of the President and the Florida SBDC Network.

The Florida SBDC at UCF provides aspiring and existing small businesses with no-cost consulting, low-cost training, and access to business data and research resources. In addition to its core service offering, the Florida SBDC at UCF also offers specialized services to qualifying companies, including capital access, market growth, government contracting, international trade, business continuation, cybersecurity, disaster planning and recovery, and more. The FSBDC at UCF serves an eight-county area that includes Brevard, Flagler, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia counties and maintains 9 service centers across Central Florida.

In 2022, the FSBDC at UCF served more than 2,700 entrepreneurs in Central Florida with consulting services, resulting in more than 10,600 jobs created, retained or saved; $793.9 million in sales growth; $66.7 million in capital formation; $103.8 million in government contract awards; and 160 new businesses started. For more information, please visit .

About the Florida SBDC Network

For more than 45 years, the Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance [Fl. Stat. 288.001], has nourished a statewide partnership between higher education and economic development to provide existing and emerging small and medium-sized business owners with management and knowledge resources that enable overall growth, increased profitability, and economic prosperity for Florida’s economy.

In 2022, the Florida SBDC Network delivered 117,750 hours of consulting to 14,758 small business clients – resulting in business owners securing $446 million in capital, $445 million in government contracting, impacting 23,515 jobs, increasing sales by over $4.5 billion, and creating 825 businesses.

With over 40 offices statewide, the Florida SBDC is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Department of Defense, State of Florida and other private and public partners. The Florida SBDC Network, headquartered at the University of West Florida, is nationally accredited by the Association of SBDCs and is a recipient of the President’s E Award for Export Service. Florida SBDC services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Language assistance services are available for individuals with limited English proficiency. For more information, please visit

FSBDC at UCF | 3201 E. Colonial Drive | Orlando, FL 32801 | p 407.420.4850 | f 407.420.4862 |