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Colette deChalus Lee providing suggestions for the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce during their Annual Meeting. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News
Colette deChalus Lee providing suggestions for the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce during their Annual Meeting. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News

Directly helping Latino entrepreneurs and small business owners

The Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce held their 29th Annual Meeting on Mar. 27, but this year, allowed members to make their own suggestions…

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For their 29th Annual Meeting, the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GPHCC) wanted to do something different.

“We are turning it back to our members, and the community because we want to learn directly from them,” Jennifer Rodríguez, President & CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said at the meeting.

During the Chamber’s Annual Meeting held at Taller Puertorriqueño on Wednesday evening, more than 100 entrepreneurs and small business owners were divided into groups and had the opportunity to discuss different topics that would help the Chamber draft the 2019-2020 Latino Small Business Agenda.

The goal was for the discussions to, in turn, help the Chamber to better understand how they can better help Latinos thrive and build more sustainable businesses.

“Latinos really are the backbone of the American economy,” said Rodríguez. “Latinos are starting businesses at three times the national average... and if it were not for Latino and other minorities starting businesses, the number of businesses in this country would actually decline.”

Topics discussed included the cost of doing business, access to capital, entrepreneurship support, as well as procurement and career advancement.

Lou Rodriguez, board chair of the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said that the key to advancing your career or business is building relationships and having access on both sides.

“We want to raise awareness about the importance and impact that Latinos have in the city and the region,” Jennifer Rodríguez added.

“What’s interesting about the Latino community is that while we are starting businesses at such a high rate, our businesses don’t have the same access to capital, resources and tools that other businesses have.”

Some of the suggestions made by the attendees included: strengthening directories, increasing access to resources, providing more opportunities for internships, having bilingual services, more consulting help, and more opportunities to network.

Colette deChalus Lee of PNC Bank, said that access to capital was the most important thing for business growth.

“I believe that all businesses need the right amount of capital, not only to start up, but also to stay in business, and to thrive and grow,” she said.

After highlighting the impact that nonprofits have, particularly in the city of Philadelphia, she highlighted the five C’s of a business.

  • Character
  • Capital
  • Cash flow
  • Collateral
  • Conditions

The suggestions and recommendations will all be taken into consideration, and then presented at the Chamber’s annual Hispanic State of Business report in October, which provides a statistical overview of the state of Hispanic owned ​businesses, trends in ​various industries, and potential growth opportunities.

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