By Christine Bolaños.
Dallas is one of the country’s leading metro areas for women-owned businesses. Coupled with the fact that Latinas are opening businesses at a faster rate than any other demographic, this makes Texas a perfect environment for entrepreneurial ventures.
“Latina entrepreneurs are pushing this economy, generating employment, demonstrating their capable professionals and helping mentor and motivate other Latinas to be successful professionals and entrepreneurs,” says Silvana Rosero, President and Executive Producer of Laguna Media Group.
The multicultural creative hub helps digital brands evaluate and expand their reach. Since its launch, the firm has evolved from offering its services to small businesses to working with small firms and large Fortune 500 companies alike. It’s a strategic decision that Rosero credits in part to encouragement she received from organizations that provide financial and professional development backing to Latina business-owners.
Laguna Media Group’s status as a certified minority-owned business through the Dallas/Fort Worth Minority Supplier Development Council, which is affiliated with The Women’s Business Council-Southwest and the National Women’s Business Council, also opened doors to a rich array of networking and mentorship support.
“Talk to other Latinas in business,” she advises. “You will find that Latinas who are already in business and successful have a huge heart for helping other Latinas succeed. I always find very genuine advice and the resources and answers I need from very capable women.”
Maria Santi, who serves as Director of Minority Outreach, for the Grand Prairie Chamber of Commerce also believes in the collective power of Latina entrepreneurs.
“I really saw that there was still a need for a mindset shift in the women’s community where men don’t really struggle too much with being confident and applying for jobs, they’re not necessarily qualified for but applying anyway.”
Guajardo says. “I still saw women as needing to build up their confidence, their self-esteem and self-worth.”
She encourages Latinas and all entrepreneurs to acknowledge their own power, intelligence and strength and then seek out personalized opportunities and support.
Guajardo says the great benefit to the availability of numerous entrepreneurial-minded organizations is that Latina business-owners can join the ones that best connect with their own needs and visions.
“We have an entrepreneurship program, Diplomado Para Emprendedores, which is directed to the Latino community,” she says. “This one is in English and Spanish, but part of its purpose is to assist and empower women. I believe about 85 percent of women participants are Latino.”
The chamber’s team is also developing new programs, workshops and networking for Latinas and other business-minded women through the Women’s Resource Group. It recently launched the panel event, Life and Business on High Heels, focused on the journeys and successes of women in business. Santi advises Latinas to fully embrace their startup ideas before diving headfirst into a business venture.
“Sometimes in the process you can get lost. Sometimes in the process you want to compare yourself to others. Sometimes you want to align yourself with people and organizations that may not be the best fit at the moment,” Santi says. “But if you don’t lose the point of why you started then I believe everything falls into place.”
Santi’s wise words resonate with Tilde Guajardo, Founder and CEO of Womanars, which provides webinars, seminars, workshops and programs intended to inspire, educate and connect women worldwide. She chose to focus on women because of her own past that included overcoming child sexual abuse.
“I really saw that there was still a need for a mindset shift in the women’s community where men don’t really struggle too much with being confident and applying for jobs, they’re not necessarily qualified for but applying anyway,”
Nancy Alvarez, who serves as Supervisor of the 8(a) Business Development Program, in the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Dallas/Fort Worth District Office advises Latinas to “seize the moment” by taking advantage of the wealth of capital and other forms of support available via numerous organizations, and to appoint a board of directors no matter the size of the business.
The local SBA pays about $10,000 per student for access to Harvard University’s entrepreneurial curriculum, which is free to entrepreneurs. Additionally, Governor Greg Abbott has implemented programs meant to help Texas become the no. 1 state for women entrepreneurs.
In Dallas, there is already an influx of Latina-owned businesses. Since FY2016, the local SBA has awarded about 230 loans to majority Latina-owned businesses totaling about $66.6 million in financial backing. The loans went to entrepreneurs in a variety of industries, including personal services, beauty salons, health services such as childcare and elderly care, and professional services.
FY2019 hasn’t even ended, but the local SBA has already made 42 loans out to Latina business owners, even amid a multi-month federal shutdown.
“There’s a bright and prosperous future for Latinas in the state of Texas,” Alvarez says.