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Program aims to help create more Hispanic-owned businesses

Helping small business
Posted at 9:03 PM, Sep 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-20 17:23:23-04

DENVER, Colorado (SCRIPPS) — There's a push to increase the number of Hispanic business owners in the U.S.

While nearly 19% of the country identifies as Hispanic, Hispanic people account for about 6% of business owners, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Tomas Hoppough shows us a new program aimed at trying to increase those numbers.

An American dream

Ana Marina is the CEO of Ana Marina's Studio.

"I am originally from Mexico City; I was born and raised in Mexico City, and I migrated to the U.S. when I was 15 years old," Marina said.

This is the American dream: to make a living following your passion and becoming your own boss.

"I love making jewelry, because it's a way for me to connect with other people. My work is enrooted in my cultural heritage," Marina said.

On the back of her jewelry, Marina says she always stamps a message in Spanish:

"...and it says 'eras la Libertad,'" which means, "'you are freedom,'" Marina explained.

She is an entrepreneur and has only been doing this for two years. While becoming an entrepreneur can be difficult in general, it can be even harder for the Latino community.

"I actually started making jewelry when I was undocumented. I was an undocumented student and I was getting a BA in history and Latin American studies. When I graduated, I wanted to pursue a Masters, but because I was undocumented it was very difficult to continue to pay out of pocket," Marina said, "so a way for me to make money and tap into my creativity was jewelry."

According to the Office of Advocacy, small businesses account for 44% of the U.S. economy. The annual business survey reports only 5.6% of those businesses are Hispanic-owned.

$2.6 trillion

The Latino Leadership Institute is launching a business accelerator called the Latino Entrepreneur Access Program to catalyze future economic vitality for the Latino community.

Chief strategy officer Harry Hollines says promoting Latino business ownership is good for the U.S. economy.

"Latinos compute about $2.6 trillion to the GDP to the United States, and that's still coming from 45 percent of small business,"Hollines said. "If you remove that GDP, it could literally crush the economy today. That's how significant the contribution of the Latino community is."

The majority of Latino business owners — about 96% — are considered "solo" entrepreneurs, meaning they don't have employees, Hollines explained.

"That's when you get growth and scale, so how do you start to help those founders grow and scale in their programs?" Hollines said. "That is the access to the capital that we talked about — financial, social and technical — and, fourth, we identified cultural capital."

Hollines says this program can help Latino entrepreneurs grow their businesses through access to help and investors.

As of recently, data shows that funding to Latino entrepreneurs has stalled at about 2% of overall investment in startups. The Latino Leadership Institute believes investing in these entrepreneurs is investing in overall Latino community wealth, Hollines said.

More competitive

The program helps not only startups, but established Hispanic-owned businesses like Leonard Martinez's grow. A few years back, he started a company called Attorney Docs.

"We feel like programs like LEAP can take us to the next level. They can make us more competitive on a national level," Martinez said, "because we have this growing population, and the better that the Latino population does both economically helps not only the United States but it helps us worldwide, right?"

Ana Marina hopes other business owners like her use this program in order to achieve the dream she had since she moved to this country.

"There's so much that Latinos can share. But by creating their own businesses, I feel like they are establishing generational wealth that can also get trickled down to future generations," Marina said.