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President and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Jennifer Rodriguez and Ab Lechter of the American Jewish Committee. Samantha Laub / AL DÍA News
President and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Jennifer Rodriguez and Ab Lechter of the American Jewish Committee. Samantha Laub / AL DÍA News

A cross-cultural entrepreneurial spirit

The Latino-Jewish Entrepreneurial Summit on May 15 will feature insights from successful entrepreneurs, as well as networking opportunities.

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It’s not a common association, though it is a significant one.

In an interview with AL DÍA News, Ab Lechter of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and Jennifer Rodriguez, president and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GPHCC), spoke of the similarities between the Latino and Jewish peoples.

Both came to the U.S. as immigrants. Both have experienced prejudice and been subjected to untrue stereotypes. Familiar values among many members of the two groups include cherishing family, working hard, and pursuing education as a path to prosperity

And both peoples are known for their entrepreneurial spirit.

In recognition of this intersectionality, AJC Philadelphia’s Latino-Jewish Coalition, in partnership with GPHCC, will host on Tuesday, May 15, a Latino-Jewish Entrepreneurial Summit from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m at the Fox School of Business at Temple University.

“We feel very, very good about the fact that we have come up with an incredible group of speakers that will give a really distinct presentation to the audience,” said Lechter, who was born in Colombia to a Jewish father and Latina mother.

A panel discussion will feature the insights and perspectives of successful entrepreneurs, including Wayne Kimmel, managing partner of SeventySix Capital; Anthony Lopez, CEO of Azzur Corporation; Nicole Marquis, CEO and founder of HipCityVeg Restaurants; and Manuel Trujillo, CEO and founder of Swain Technologies. The discussion will be moderated by Ellen Weber, executive director of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute at the Fox School of Business.

Rodriguez noted that Latinos start businesses at three times the national average (with Philadelphia being no exception), but only 2 to 3 percent of Latino-owned businesses scale reach or exceed $1 million in annual revenue.

“It’s important for the Hispanic Chamber to showcase that we do have incredibly successful entrepreneurs,” Rodríguez said, speaking of members of the panel. “It’s not often the case that we get to showcase them at this level. It’s a fantastic event for that.”

In addition to the panel, Alan Weisleder, a native of Costa Rica and a partner in the Jerusalem-based venture capital firm OurCrowd, will deliver the keynote address at the event.

Rodriguez said the summit is a great opportunity for local Latino entrepreneurs to expand their networks and hear the advice of experts “who have successfully scaled their businesses and demystified what all that is about.”

It is Rodriguez’s hope that these local entrepreneurs will leave the summit with the knowledge that they can achieve similar success.

AJC Philadelphia’s Latino-Jewish Coalition was founded in 2013. Speaking with AL DÍA, AJC Philadelphia’s Regional Director Marcia Bronstein explained the purpose of the Latino-Jewish Coalition.

“The mission is to use collaborative relationships and expand interactions on issues that are important to both of our communities,” Bronstein said, naming immigration reform, economic empowerment, civic engagement, foreign policy, homeland-diaspora relations and philanthropy.

The Latino-Jewish Entrepreneurial Summit will take place at Alter Hall on Temple University’s main campus.

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