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Rafael Marrero
Rafael Marrero, supplier diversity expert and author of 'La Salsa Secreta del Tío Sam' addresses the audience at the third annual Closing the Gap Conference, hosted by the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce at the Community College of…

Closing the gap for Latino businesses

The Closing The Gap: Supplier Diversity Conference featured supplier diversity expert Rafael Marrero, who shared the best practices to help scale businesses. 

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Latinos are one of the most prominent business communities in the entire United States.

According to a 2018 report from the U.S. Small Business Administration, roughly 600,000 of the more than 12 million business owners in the United States are U.S.-born Latinos. 

Immigrant Latino entrepreneurs also make important contributions to the economy, generating $36.5 billion in business income. 

Nonetheless, there are some constraints for Latino- and minority-owned businesses. These constraints result in losses in economic efficiency—a gap. This is what makes the Closing the Gap Conference important. 

"Closing the gap is really about closing the performance gap as a way of really bringing the resources, helping Latino entrepreneurs find the solutions and the pathways for success and to scale," GPHCC President & CEO, Jennifer Rodriguez, said.

Only three percent of Latino businesses generate $1 million or more in revenue on an annual basis. 

Since it was founded, the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has served as a main contributor in helping Latino businesses grow and flourish.

"Every year, we focus on a very important topic for the Latino community and for businesses in general, and this year, we’re focusing on supplier diversity, because a business can significantly scale when they contract with federal government, with local government, or with large institutions. And Latinos are severely underrepresented in this world," said Rodriguez.

To address this, the GPHCC invited Rafael Marrero, as the keynote speaker, to talk about some of his tools for success. 

Marrero is a supplier diversity expert, and the author of 'La Salsa Secreta del Tío Sam.'

He detailed some of the major ingredients that Latino and minority business owners need to know in order to help their businesses grow, scale, and succeed.

"We want to make sure that our community understands what are the opportunities around supplier diversity and procurement, that they have the experts and they have the answers, and they can really start really thinking about how can my business begin to look at opportunities for the larger contracts from institutions and government," said Rodriguez. 

The conference also featured breakout session panels, focused on supplier diversity and how to apply the concepts that were discussed in order to achieve supplier diversity.

The last portion of the event consisted of three coaching sessions for attendees. One was a workshop focused on minority certification, another on relationship building, and the final was a workshop on how to write a capability statement. Those are three really big factors in helping businesses grow, that many Latinos and people of color often lack the resources for. 

"It’s about access, it’s about networks, it’s about really not being aware of what the opportunities are," Rodriguez said. "And so, the Chamber really is here to raise awareness about the opportunity, bring solutions, bring experts so that Latino businesses can grow, can scale at the level that really would build wealth and create a really strong economy.”

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