Being a Latina business owner could not have happened at a better time for me. I immigrated to the U.S. in my late teens and spent a good part of my career struggling to be heard in environments where diversity was low. It didn’t help that I didn’t feel I fit in. But as a woman and a Latina in today’s environment, I feel empowered and supported to pursue my entrepreneurial dreams.

What changed? I believe it’s been a series of big and small events alike, some which might seem unrelated initially. Overall, there is a big push by the government and society to support minorities and women. On top of that, members of these groups are making it a priority to support each other.

It gives me great comfort to hear other Latinas say “the future of U.S. businesses is Latina.” Not because I think we should take over (every group has the same right to own their well-earned share of U.S. markets), but because it boosts my confidence in the power of self-motivation and encouragement.

But what does the business landscape look like today for Latinas?

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Latino-Owned Small Businesses Are Growing at a High Rate

The Latino population has become the United States’ largest ethnic minority, constituting over 17 percent of the nation's total population. Similar growth can also be seen in the Latino entrepreneur community.

Hispanics showed the highest growth in entrepreneurship of any U.S. racial group between 1996 and 2014, according to American Express’ 2018 State of Women-Owned Businesses report. This is great news for Latina entrepreneurs.

As we grow in the business arena, more resources are made available to support us.

There is also the hope that we will support one another as fellow entrepreneurs either by providing advice and resources or by being reciprocal customers.

Funding Is Still a Challenge for Latina Entrepreneurs

Many Latinas use what little they have in savings to fund their businesses, and most seldom seek outside funding until it’s already too late. This lack of planning and poor cash flow management can result in business failure. As their personal funds diminish, they must apply for loans that are often denied or that come with high interest rates. Improper funding results in slow or no growth and business shutdown.

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It’s essential that Latina entrepreneurs seek advice from the many free and accessible resources available to them as soon as they think of starting a business. It’s also important to continue doing so through the early stages of the business. As they plan for growth, they should engage appropriate professionals and advisers who can assist them during the growth stage.

Latinos Have Entrepreneurial Spirits

Latinos are quite the entrepreneurial type in their countries of origin. This often comes out of necessity, as jobs are not necessarily the order of the day in our countries. That entrepreneurial spirit frequently translates to Latinos starting businesses when they immigrate to the U.S.

But the problem is that their common approach is “let’s jump in the water and see what happens.”

It’s the philosophy of learning to swim when you see the shark coming. This might work in some cases, but it’s a risky approach in business.

Programs that educate Latina entrepreneurs on proper business management at all stages are key to the survival of their businesses. There is a lot of effort being made to create programs that support minority- and women-owned businesses. However, I notice that many Latinas are not aware of these programs. As much focus should be given to raising awareness as it is to creating them.

Funding for Latina Entrepreneurs

  • Accion provides small business loans and support for underrepresented small-business owners, including minority women.
  • Aspen Capital Fund offers not only funds, but also resources to help you grow your business in all ways properly and financially stable. It specializes in Hispanic and minority-owned businesses.
  • Kapor Capital focuses on African-American and Latino communities that lack funding. This organization offers to help tech companies in the seed stage who are looking to close gaps in their local community.

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Resources for Training

  • At The Table Women In Business and LeadershipIn conjunction with the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, this program aims to offer counseling and exposure for new businesses. Categories include STEM, small business, and social business venture. 
  • Core WomanFounded in Colombia to empower women with business development training and other resources, this organization is now launching in the United States to help American Latinas.
  • National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC)This coalition offers a Policy Fellowship Program each semester through which at least one student is selected to receive training and development in legal and policy research, analysis, writing, and public speaking. It also offers an annual intensive TV Writers Program for Latino screenwriters that develops writing skills and prepares participants for jobs at major television networks.
  • National Latina Business Women Association (NLBWA)This empowerment and networking group provides support to Latinas in business and professional careers. Its Business Management Academy offers an in-depth, hands-on training that teaches how to be a successful small business owner and manager. In addition, emerging and aspiring entrepreneurs can take advantage of the six- to eight-week Emerging Latinas Program which teaches the steps to start or grow an existing business.
  • Positive Directions Co.This company offers skills training and development to help Latino-Americans advance in their professional and business careers.
  • Ser Mujer E-Learning Programs for EntrepreneursThis program empowers Latina entrepreneurs by providing access to in-depth online training.
  • We All Grow SummitA Latina-blogger-founded effort that hosts events around the country to empower women with all types of businesses.
  • Women’s Business Border CenterThis organization offers a variety of courses to help Latinas overcome challenges such as language and receive proper training on all aspects of running a business.

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Resources For Networking

  • Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting (ALPFA)A networking organization of finance and accounting professionals and entrepreneurs, ALPFA offers a number of benefits including annual conferences, networking events, initiatives, and programs. Among these is the Women of ALPFA (WOA) program, which supports Latina professionals building their professional careers.
  • Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE)This organization offers leadership development programs to enhance Latina skillsets and empower them to reach leadership positions in government.
  • Hispanic IT Executive Council (HITEC)A membership-based network of Hispanic senior business and IT executives, HITECH offers a number of skill-development programs.
  • Hispanic Women’s Corporation: This is a two-day conference to give Latina women the resources and tools to be the best entrepreneurs possible. Speakers from various industries give advice on navigating business, health, law, and leadership.
  • Latinas in Business (LIB)LIB is a networking and support group for Latina professionals and business owners.
  • Latina Style Business SeriesThis networking opportunity provides a platform for Latinas to meet and discuss issues within the industry. Founded in 1998, its goal is to empower all Latina entrepreneurs.
  • Latinas Think BigAdvice and mentoring are vital when starting a new business. Latinas Think Big gives you access to some of the biggest, baddest Latinas around. It also offers an online community for immediate help.
  • Mana – A National Latina OrganizationMana is a network of Latina professionals offering personal and professional development programs in financial literacy and leadership.
  • Mestiza Leadership International (MLI)This leadership development network offers support, leadership development, mentor opportunities, and other resources for Latina professionals and business owners.
  • National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN)NAHN is a network of support for Hispanic nurses. It also advocates for continued education, training, and advancement of Hispanic women in the nursing field.
  • National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP)A membership-based support network for Latino content creators, NALIP offers a number of networking events, conferences, creative workshops, and other programs. These include the organization’s Diverse Women in Media Initiative, which focuses on the advancement of multicultural women to positions of power in the media.
  • National Conference of Puerto Rican Women (NACOPRW)This membership-based networking group caters to Puerto Rican and other Latina women with a focus on professional skill and leadership development. It offers training, educational workshops, and information sharing, among other resources.
  • National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA)NHLA is a national nonprofit dedicated to creating opportunities for Hispanic women to influence public policy and gain professional leadership positions that allow them to impact public society for the greater good.
  • Suits, Stilettos, and LipstickThis organization offers fun, useful, and empowering workshops to help connect and teach Latinas all they need to know about starting a new business.

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Looking Toward the Future for Latina Entrepreneurs

Overall, the outlook for Latina business owners is positive. There is still a lot to be done to provide the right support, training, and funding to improve the success rates for Latina-owned businesses. Latina entrepreneurs should seek training and capital to create and grow their businesses.

Meanwhile, government agencies should continue to implement support structures and resources for them. Making these programs known to the community is also key. Increasing publicity and accessibility of these programs is also crucial.

Last, it’s crucial that Latina business owners support each other by mentoring one another, cross-selling, and being ambassadors for fellow business owners.