The Value of Latino Businesses | OP-ED
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Just a few weeks ago, the eighth annual State of Latino Entrepreneurship report was released for public consumption.
The annual report collects data from Latino-owned businesses, which represent the fastest growing segment of the U.S. business population.
Some of the most glaring findings from the report include: Latino-owned businesses outpace the growth rates of White-owned businesses and U.S. businesses overall in terms of businesses and revenue; Latino-owned businesses are 50% more likely to request financing than White-owned businesses, Latino-owned businesses receive substantially smaller contracts, and the Great Resignation has hit Latino-owned businesses harder than others.
As I skimmed through the report, I couldn’t help but think about the many Latino entrepreneurs I have had the opportunity to interview and feature over the past several years with AL DÍA.
Among the many that stand out to me is one about Nadia Martinez.
A native of Agua Verde, Sinaloa, in Mexico, Martinez has had many challenges in her life that shaped the person she is today.
From witnessing her parents’ divorce as a toddler, to being raised by her grandmother who passed away when she was 13, to having to cross the border each day to and from school.
As an adult, she became a military spouse and soon a mother trying to navigate her husband’s deployment relocations while also balancing work and raising her daughters.
She told me how challenging it was to do so.
However, she remained focused and determined as an idea came to her to start her own business. Since 2014, she has operated Kallie & Co., an online social retail business that sells handcrafted goods created by Mexican artisans.
Her entrepreneurial venture has served three purposes — allowed her to work remotely, create jobs in her native of Mexico, and also promote slow fashion.
I also think about the story of Daniel Hernandez.
Also a native of Mexico, he was brought to the United States at the age of 7. Raised in a family of entrepreneurs, he always envisioned that one day he would also follow that path.
After years running a house cleaning business, Hernandez’s mother decided to follow her true passion in starting her own restaurant business.
Just a few weeks after its grand opening in early 2020, the pandemic shuttered operations as delivery and pickup became the only options.
Facing challenges of third-party delivery companies, Hernandez would launch his own. He is the founder of The Apptopus, a software platform that helps small restaurants launch and maintain online orders and ease the burden of third-party delivery services.
He told me that the need to do so was a necessity, and with restaurants being essential businesses, it was.
More recently, I had the opportunity to interview Kersy Azocar. Originally from the Dominican Republic, she came to the United States as a young adult and developed a career as a stalwart of the financial industry.
With her keen undestanding of the challenges facing Latino business owners, she founded Greenline Access Capital.
The nonprofit financial organization seeks to provide equitable access to financial resiliency and wealth through entrepreneurship.
Through grants and loans, she has helped connect dozens of clients to nearly $3 million in financing.
As I reflect on those few stories and many others I that I have heard and written about, it has taught me a lot.
Those stories have showed me the true value of Latino businesses in the many facets of our everyday lives.
It’s great to get an annual report on the contributions and statistics surrounding the Latino business community in the United States.
However, the true merit and worth falls in the individual stories and journeys of becoming entrepreneurs.
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