In addition, I argue that bilingualism, multilingualism and a disposition to function in multicultural contexts are characteristics typically attributed to the educated and entrepreneurial class. Given the preponderance of globalization, the capacity to navigate different cultural landscapes and the ability to negotiate life in more than one language are, clearly, tangible entrepreneurial assets.
Next- Let’s take a look at what happens when a Latino leaves his or her country of origin.
Latino immigrants and the above entrepreneurial attributes are not commonly linked in peoples minds. Yet these valuable qualities and the Latino immigrant experience are synonymous.
Why do I talk about the Latino immigrant advantage in this article?
Let’s take a look at what happens when a Latino leaves his or her country of origin.
She or he courageously embarks on a new, high-risk endeavor. Often leaving with few, if any, financial resources, these individuals possess other equally important assets. Specifically risk tolerance attributes facilitate their movement across national borders and into a place where cultural norms, language and practices are in unambiguous contrast with their own.
Not always, but often, these national border crossings are not on airplanes. Rather, these crossings are on foot and across desolate and unsafe terrain. Whatever the crossing method – particularly for low-income individuals with minimal educational attainment – doing so signals a capacity to handle immediate, short- and long-term stress and challenges, and the tenacity to move forward despite an unpredictable outcome. Yet, they march on.
Flexibility is paramount among Latino immigrants. Adaptation and adjustment are the new norms after migration. A new culture, language and setting demand flexibility, decisiveness and tolerance.
Latino immigrants send billions of dollars per year to their families and communities of origin. We know from the data that this is typical among low-income individuals and families residing here in the U.S. That is, they have the capacity to live on very low wages and send remittances on a regular basis to their loved ones. This takes planning and determination.
Courage, resilience, tenacity, flexibility, tolerance and the capacity for financial planning are hallmarks of the Latino immigrant experience. This is precisely why I am talking about the Latino immigrant advantage.
If we, as a society, recognize these highly valued personal traits among immigrants, we can reach unimagined heights in Latino business development. I argue that it is not only about making resources, tools and education available to Latino immigrants interested in becoming entrepreneurs.
It is also about figuring out ways to learn from them, engaging them in the creation of business development tools and practices, and working with them to re-imagine entrepreneurship in light of their unique and significant advantages.
Business development centers, advisers, nonprofits, philanthropic institutions and other entities will benefit from assessing their philosophies and starting all actions from a relevant and strength-based guiding principle: Tapping into, learning from and propelling the Latino immigrant advantage forward. The nation will gain from this inclusive and innovative perspective.
Other articles by Mara:
Education is Crucial for Hispanic Businesses to Succeed
My Art, Passion and Work
Creating Space to Re-energize the Self and Business
Finding our Entrepreneurial Seeds Through Self-reflection