A Call to Action
Armed with this knowledge and insight, it behooves us to cultivate an entrepreneurial spirit among Latinos, starting with school. Study after study shows that mentoring produces results, and so do parent engagement, bilingual education and preschool attendance. To make sure these opportunities are available and remain viable, it is important to give (i.e., philanthropically to nonprofits) and to volunteer.
It is equally important to know whether state and federal budgets are maintaining, reducing or eliminating line items that impact education and services. In turn, what can we tell our legislators? Sending letters, making phone calls, writing news articles, convening meetings and brainstorming sessions, and networking are tools for positive change available to all of us.
Access to financial services is a key determining factor in business success. A lot of services and funding sources are available to emerging and established business owners. Yet financing opportunities remain limited for Latino entrepreneurs. While the majority of Hispanic businesses are small and many are micro (probably an initial-intermediate stage in the development of Latino entrepreneurship in the U.S.), others are larger. Most can benefit from lending and other forms of financial backing.
Successfully established Latino entrepreneurs can use their resources, networks and influence to push toward equal access to financing. Advocating positive change may include persuasive discussions with legislators, other elected and appointed officials, bankers and venture capitalists, for example.
Not everything is grim. There is a variety of business support entities focused on minority populations. For example, Minority Business Development Centers, which connect people with loans and offer business training courses, can be highly valuable for Hispanic businesses. Hispanic chambers of commerce play a role in promoting Latino businesses across the country and can be a source of information for access to capital and strategic networks.
Opportunities abound. It is about breaking barriers, leveling the playing field and unleashing potential. Just writing this piece I feel excited about what the future can bring for Latinos and the nation. It’s time. Let’s get it done!
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Mara Perez has been delivering fundraising, evaluation and strategic-planning services to nonprofit organizations and educational institutions for more than 10 years. Visit her firm at www.maraperezconsulting.com.