On Tuesday, October 12, the Latino Community Foundation, in partnership Wells Fargo hosted Suma Wealth, the Aspen Institute Latinos & Society Program, and the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative to lead a powerful conversation on how to build a more just economy for California’s Latino community.
If Latino small businesses in California had the same opportunities as their non-Latino counterparts to grow their businesses, they would generate $338 billion. Still, challenges like lack of access to capital and mentorship networks keep Latinos from scaling businesses and building wealth.
As California recovers from the pandemic-induced recession, advocates and community leaders are calling on Latinos to seize their power – which includes 2.7 trillion in spending power – to ensure the economic recovery is equitable. “We are represented in numbers, but we will never have true power in this country if we don’t have economic power,” says Beatriz Acevedo of Suma Wealth, a digital platform that was launched during the pandemic designed to teach the Latino community how to build and sustain wealth. “It’s time for Latinos to take control of their economic futures,” she says.
How can more Latinos start to step into their economic power?
“None of us can do it alone, we need to focus on ecosystem building,” says Domenika Lynch, executive director of the Aspen Institute’s Latino and Society Program, which seeks to empower Latino communities and promote long-term economic growth and resiliency. In her role, she oversees the City Learning and Action Lab, designed to enhance local leaders’ efforts to attract capital investment and resources to Latino communities where they live and work. “The knowledge sharing that happens within networks is what’s going to keep us motivated.”
The Future of Entrepreneurship in California is Latina
From micro-entrepreneurs like street food vendors, to Silicon Valley tech-based startups that operate in multiple cities, more women are embracing an entrepreneurial spirit and looking for ways to go into business for themselves, even amidst a pandemic that has disproportionately impacted women. According to the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative, Latinas who reported self-employment grew by 12 percent in the last five years alone.
“If you can make an opportunity for yourself during a crisis, you’re an entrepreneur,” says Claudia Arroyo, executive director of Prospera, a nonprofit organization that partners with Latina entrepreneurs to launch businesses that foster cooperation, economic independence, and well-being in immigrant communities. “Launching a business is a powerful vehicle for transformation…women are impacting their families and their communities.” Arroyo, who spoke on a panel focused on ways to support small business owners during the economic recovery, was joined by Kimberly Gudino of Brown Issues, a grassroots, youth-led organization advocating for street vendors, and Vanessa Karel of Greether, a tech startup connecting women travelers around the world.
For many women, starting a small business is a means of achieving improved economic mobility, especially in a workforce that continues to underpay Latinas for their labor. Today, Latinas earn $0.55 for every dollar paid to White men, a pay gap that has seen little improvement in the past decade. Latinas are also over-represented in industries that were heavily impacted by business closures caused by the pandemic, resulting in high levels of job and wage losses.
You can watch the full recording of the event here.
Written by Eduardo García, Senior Policy Manager at the Latino Community Foundation.