As the nation’s population becomes more diverse, the percentage of entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds continues to grow, especially among Latinos. According to the Joint Economic Committee Hispanic Entrepreneurship and Business Brief, nearly one in four new businesses is Hispanic-owned.
With a fearless approach to business, Latino entrepreneurs often infuse their ventures with innovative ideas that bridge diverse markets, maximizing their unique ability to connect with a wide range of customers. This Hispanic Heritage Month, we explore the ways Latino-owned ventures enrich the nation’s business landscape and inspire other entrepreneurs.
Placing Community at the Heart of Business
Photo: Stephanie Vasquez at Fair Trade Cafe
Latinas, in particular, often bring a distinct point of view to the businesses they create. Stephanie Vasquez, owner of the Fair Trade Cafe, is a great example. As the owner of the longest-standing coffee house in downtown Phoenix, Stephanie remains committed to quality and her ability to curate an engaging setting keeps customers coming back for more. She describes the cafe as “a community hub that serves sustainable specialty coffee that is fair trade certified, house-made pastries and delicious food, served in a culture-rich ambiance.”
As the founder of the nonprofit ELLA (Empowering Latina Leaders in Arizona), Stephanie takes her natural ability to uplift the community even further. “It is a nonprofit that focuses on creating opportunities for Latinas to thrive,” she says. “ELLA also puts on the Mujeres Mercado, which is the largest Latina outdoor market in Arizona, as well as the only storefront highlighting Latina-owned brands.”
Stephanie has a socially conscious approach to business. “I bring a very unique perspective and approach to business and nonprofits because of the sustainability focus as well as the community element to everything I do,” she said.
Lasting Impact Through Access to Resources
Diverse leaders often look for ways to support new entrepreneurs, especially those from diverse backgrounds. This can be through mentorship, resources, or just showing people that there is a path forward. Edgar R. Olivo is co-founder of Compass CBS Foundation and CEO of the American Red Cross for the Arizona and New Mexico Region. Leaders like Edgar are integral to connecting entrepreneurs with the resources needed to advance their ventures towards the next phase of success.
We asked Edgar about the impact of Latino-owned businesses and the resources that exist to support their business growth. He provided a few lists that are both inspirational and informative. Here are some inspiring insights that Edgar shared about the significant contributions made by Hispanic-owned businesses to the economy.
Hispanic-owned or Latino-owned businesses generate employment opportunities, which help reduce unemployment rates and stimulate local economies. By providing jobs to community members, these entrepreneurs contribute to overall economic growth.
Diversity in business ownership brings diverse ideas to the market. Hispanic entrepreneurs often introduce innovative products and services that foster competition and drive innovation across industries.
Hispanic and Latino entrepreneurs cater to the specific needs and preferences of their communities. This often leads to the development of products and services that resonate with a wide range of consumers, maximizing market reach.
Hispanic-owned businesses often reinvest in their communities, from local partnerships to community programs. This contributes to the overall well-being and development of neighborhoods and regions.
Cultural and Social Contributions
Hispanic and Latino entrepreneurs celebrate cultural diversity and promote cultural exchange, enriching the societal fabric.
Successful Hispanic-owned businesses can generate wealth within their communities, helping to close economic gaps and fostering generational wealth accumulation.
Essential Resources at Every Stage
Edgar also shared several ways businesses can find resources to improve business performance and to accelerate business growth, no matter where they are on their entrepreneurial journey.
The Compass CBS Foundation offers training programs that help entrepreneurs enhance their business skills, navigate challenges and capitalize on opportunities. These programs focus on advancing equitable economic recovery and promoting generational wealth creation.
Engaging with government agencies can provide access to resources, grants and support programs specifically designed to assist minority-owned businesses. The foundation’s collaboration with entities like the City of Phoenix Public Library and Consulate General of Mexico in Phoenix exemplifies such partnerships.
Business Development Organizations
There are numerous business development organizations and chambers of commerce dedicated to supporting Hispanic and Latino entrepreneurs. These organizations offer networking opportunities, mentorship, educational events and advocacy on behalf of their members.
Minority-focused financial institutions, community development financial institutions (CDFIs), and micro-lending organizations can offer funding options tailored to the needs of Hispanic-owned businesses. These sources can provide capital for expansion, equipment and other business needs.
Online Learning Platforms
Online learning platforms, webinars and virtual workshops offer a wealth of information on various business topics, from marketing and finance to operations and management. General platforms such as LinkedIn Learning and Coursera are good for general topics, and check with local organizations supporting Hispanic-owned businesses for other opportunities. Edson E+I has free online training modules that are perfect for any business at any stage.
Local Community Resources
Connecting with local community centers, cultural organizations, and neighborhood associations can provide access to support networks, partnerships, and potential customers within the community.
Success Through Local Connections
Photo: Laura Suarez, Program Director of Prestamos WBC
Laura Suarez, Program Director of CPLC’s Prestamos Women’s Business Center, is empowering Latinas who are building businesses that impact their communities and the economy. We asked Laura to share her perspective on the value of Latino-owned businesses along with local resources for any entrepreneur to thrive.
“Our economy benefits a lot from our Latinx/Hispanic entrepreneurs,” Laura told us. “We contribute more than $800 billion a year according to the SBA’s reports. That is huge! We contribute significantly as we continue to grow as a population in the United States. Here in Arizona alone, we contribute around $14 billion in annual revenue (2020 numbers), based on the article written by Lili Gil Valletta. You can say that we are kind of a big deal!”
Explore Local Organizations Offering Support
As a leader in her community, Laura connects the dots between entrepreneurs and the many resources they can tap into. “There are so many resources in the community that, unfortunately, don’t get utilized,” Laura said, “These are just a few of the resources for small businesses of any size that exist in the community here in the valley!”
Here’s Laura’s list:
- US Small Business Administration – see the local office
- Small Business Development Center
- Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC)
- Women’s Business Centers such as Prestamos WBC and YWCA of Southern Arizona
- Local First / Fuerza Local
- Growth Partners
- Prestamos CDFI
- Better Business Bureau
- Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
- East Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
- Seed Spot
- Hustle PHX
- Startup PHX – located on the 2nd floor of the public library in Phoenix, AZ
- Black Chamber of Commerce
- Southwest Valley Chamber of Commerce
- AZPTAC – for procurement assistance
- RAIL CDC – for anyone alongside the light rail in Tempe and Mesa
- DreamSpring – CDFI
- Compass CBS foundation
- Minority Business Development Agency – for those generating more than $500,000
Latino entrepreneurs are shaping the future
Combining their deep sense of community with a strong entrepreneurial spirit, Latino entrepreneurs create immense value with their ability to build businesses that connect with our broader population. Their approach to business makes them a driving force in today’s dynamic and diverse economy.
The impact of the right resources, expert mentors and a strong community can have on any venture is significant. If you are an entrepreneur looking for support, explore Edson E+I Institute online or join us at one of our events to get to know our community of collaboration!