This University’s Resident Elotero Now Takes Venmo, and People Are Flooding Him With Donations

Lead Photo: Photo: Mark Lasa/The Bottom Line
Photo: Mark Lasa/The Bottom Line
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Despite data showing that a rising number of people in the United States use electronic payment methods, cash still reigns supreme throughout the country. But at a time when Venmo makes settling debts with friends as easy as firing off a text, it makes sense that the PayPal-owned company has grown at a breakneck speed. According to Fortune, in January 2016, Venmo reached a record high when users transferred $1 billion, which is two and a half times as much as in January 2015. With Venmo thriving, University of California, Santa Barbara’s enterprising elotero man, Hijinio Camacho, ingeniously gave students the option to pay using the app.

A picture of Camacho went viral after @manukmusic alerted Twitter that the elotero takes Venmo as a payment method. “Raspado guy changing da game,” he wrote, adding a picture that clearly shows Camacho’s blue street cart with a sheet of paper that display his Venmo username. Before becoming internet famous, student’s knew him as Isla Vista’s resident elote man. But the tweet has been a boon to his business. On top of perhaps notifying UCSB students to Camacho’s cart, users from around the country decided to pitch in. They sent him donations and applauded his efforts.

Messages like “I respect the hustle,” “Every time I see you, I’m reminded of my neighborhood” and “thank you for all your hard work” filled his feed. Camacho sweetly liked or replied to many of the messages.

For the past 20 years, Camacho has served Mexican treats – elotes, raspados, mangoes, and tostilocos – to the Isla Vista community. The Oxnard resident – who makes the more than 30-mile drive to Santa Barbara every day with his wife (who runs her own cart in the area) – starts his day at 3 a.m. This gives him enough time to drive to Los Angeles, which is double the distance from Santa Barbara to Oxnard, to buy fresh produce from the markets. He and his wife don’t have any days off, because the carts are their sole source of income.

With school organizations and clubs hiring him for events, Camacho has seen added success, according to The Bottom Line. But the growing Latinx student body has also helped his business. When he first started off on the college campus, non Latino students didn’t show much interest in his elotes. In 2015, UCSB was named a Hispanic-Serving Institution – a designation reserved for campuses who have a more than 25 percent Latino student body.

h/t The Tab