Here’s How to Support Hispanic Small Business Owners
September 15 marked the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Month, an opportunity for every business owner to take stock of the successes and challenges facing this community.
There are more than 4.6 million Hispanic and Latino-owned businesses in the United States, representing the country’s fastest-growing share of entrepreneurs. Part of what is called the New Majority of business owners, Hispanic and Latino business owners outperform their peers in spite of limited access to banking, professional networks, and certain educational opportunities. We need to celebrate these business success stories that collectively add more than $700 billion in sales to the U.S. economy each year.
But there is a long way to go for Hispanic and Latino business owners to reach their full potential; the Aspen Institute reports that if these owners were provided the resources to scale at the same rate as white-owned businesses, “an estimated $1.47 trillion could be added to the economy.” The challenges posed by the novel coronavirus only compound the difficulties facing this community.
Read on for three ways to support these entrepreneurs this Hispanic Heritage Month.
1. Understand Their Unique Situations
Take Blanca Ortiz, owner of Las Vegas-based Chamango Mexican Snacks, whose business has been severely impacted by COVID-19: “The pandemic created stress in all of us — customers, employees, owners, I would say on every single human,” Ortiz says. “Due to isolation and social distancing, customers stopped coming in, and then there've been times where I struggle to find produce due to supply chain issues. There is not an easy process to access short- or long-term capital, and banks now are stricter and don't make the process any easier.”
These are not isolated problems. According to anonymous owner data compiled by Hello Alice, reduced sales due to social distancing measures ranked as the number one issue facing Hispanic and Latinx business owners; 71% of Hispanic & Latinx business owners reported they need funding immediately in order for their business to survive. A separate analysis from the Stanford Graduate School of Business yielded a similar conclusion: 65% of Hispanic and Latinx businesses say they will not be able to operate for over six months if current restrictions persist.
If any of those numbers sound shocking, that’s part of the reason we need to amplify these findings. After all, step one in solving a problem is understanding its scope, right?
2. Discover Resources Created for the Hispanic Business Community
The path forward will require knowledge, funding, and community. As a first step, Hello Alice has launched a Hispanic Business Resource Center as a centralized hub for how-to business guides, resources curated for Hispanic business owners, and the opportunity to apply for the Business for All Grant program, which offers grants of up $50,000 and mentorship opportunities from business leaders including Armando Christian "Pitbull" Perez. The site is available in both English and Spanish.
The United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) also maintains an up-to-date list of small business resources, and Accion, a microfinance organization that supports Hispanic businesses, is offering mentorship matching, business financing, and other resources.
If you’re interested in hearing more about the plight of fellow small business owners, join an upcoming Hello Alice and Inc. magazine’s Hispanic Small Business Town Hall. The three-part series slated for September 16, 25, and 30 will convene a variety of business leaders from the Hispanic community to discuss topics ranging from discovering funding opportunities to perfecting customer outreach. Click each date for the link to register.
3. Do Your Part to Lift Up Hispanic Entrepreneurs
Each person has the ability to lift up the Hispanic business community this month and every month.
If you are a community leader, now is the time to wield your influence. Make a conscious effort to include Hispanic and Latino business owners in your professional networks. Establish goals to invest in diverse founders. Advocate for government programs and tax incentives to help small business owners thrive.
At the same time, positive change will only occur if every one of us takes small steps to contribute. If you’re a small business owner yourself, consider volunteering as a SCORE mentor to share your perspective and expertise. If you have a few extra dollars, make a purchase at a Hispanic-owned business. And if you’re just someone with a social media account, do your best to amplify a few Hispanic-owned businesses that others in your network might not be aware of.
This extra effort will pay off in no time as you not only support the Hispanic and Latino business community — but invest in it.