Soar in San Diego.
By Christine Bolaños
In California, Latina-owned businesses grew to 433,000 in 2016, an increase of 111 percent since 2007. About one-quarter of these businesses are in California according to most recent data compiled by Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE) in the Economic Status of Latinas Report. This points to the potential impact of Latina entrepreneurs in California and there are no signs of the trend slowing down.
One city where Latinas are making their entrepreneurial mark is in San Diego, a city rich in Latino presence and home to a variety of businesses.
“It’s almost like the floodgates have opened where one person charts the path and shows their success for others to follow,” says Gabriela Dow, owner of Mora Dow Consulting.
Dow is a San Diego-based entrepreneur and consultant who works with government agencies, global corporations, national firms and tech startups. The Latina Entrepreneur of the Year’s mission is to connect technology and government for maximum results.
She notes a lack of Latina entrepreneurs in industries such as engineering and construction but sees an increasingly dominant presence in virtually every other field.
She points to her second cousin Marcela Valladolid Rodriguez who is also based in San Diego and serves as founder and CEO of Casa Marcela.
“At first glance it may seem more of a traditional home-focused business but once the tech and business acumen are applied, then you see this is a digital media company,” Dow says.
On her way toward becoming a self-sustaining businesswoman, Dow took advantage of traditional resources such as the SCORE Association, which helps match entrepreneurs with mentors and provides business tools and free or inexpensive workshops. She also stayed on top of cutting edge technology realizing that would help make her job easier while remaining competitive.
She looks at her job like a small child would see building a Lego tower — not for the money but to see how high it can go.
Valery Belloso is Chief Strategy Officer at Accion, a nonprofit microlending organization that provides business loans up to $75,000 and other support services. In her role, Belloso plays a key role in leading the organization’s business development strategy.
Belloso believes the influence of Latina entrepreneurs is inarguable and may even exceed the pace of businesses opened by their male counterparts.
“Many times, lack of access to capital is the barrier to generating more revenue for these businesses,” Belloso shares. “Having access to someone who is willing to lend to you or invest in you to take your business to the next level is the greatest challenge.”
More financial backing allows Latina entrepreneurs to evolve from “solopreneurs” to business owners capable of hiring employees which in turn boosts the economy.
“People come here to launch technology and innovation businesses with the opportunity to solve some of the region’s challenges and address some of the market’s needs and demands,” she says.
Filling those needs gives rise to greater economic impact of businesses and it’s where she wants more Latinas to concentrate.
Latina entrepreneurs can take advantage of the resources offered via Belloso’s nonprofit which is a lending organization with a transformational rather than transactional approach.
“It’s a hands-on approach to not only lend but to teach and to empower through resources, information and making connections to other tools,” Belloso says.
Tayde Aburto, president and CEO of San Diego-based Hispanic Chamber of E-Commerce, believes the more integrated Latina-owned businesses become with technology the more successful they are.
“We have built a platform that allows them to have access toward digital channels like blogs or business listings,” Aburto shares. “We are a marketing ally for our members and we use our social media profiles to highlight profiles and services our members offer.”
That’s the kind of marketing Latina-owned businesses need to take advantage of to increase their exposure.
One of his dreams is to see all Hispanic-owned businesses in the U.S. with websites.
“If we can get Latinos more involved with all these tools that are available and cost-effective we’re going to start seeing an increase of wealth in the Latino community that goes way beyond social media,” Aburto says.
Christella Sanchez, stakeholder liaison for the Internal Revenue Service, says Latina entrepreneurs are also making their mark in San Diego by staying active, enterprising, displaying professionalism and asserting themselves in all facets of society.
“They are making a big impact and are helping to drive our economy,” she says.
The IRS has a Spanish section of its website dedicated to non-English speaking entrepreneurs. There are resources for all types of businesses and a tax center where small business owners can get help to start a new business, decide on a business structure, attend business workshops and more.
Sanchez recommends all entrepreneurs subscribe to e-News and check out free webinars for small business owners.
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