Getting back to business: UnidosUS’s Latinx in Business program supports pandemic recovery by equipping small business owners with digital solutions

Over the past 10 years, Latinx entrepreneurs have started small businesses at a rate higher than any other racial/ethnic group. UnidosUS’s Latinx in Business program, generously supported by T-Mobile and AARP, was created during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that Latinx small business owners had the digital tools they needed to survive and thrive.

The program enhances existing small business development trainings and focuses on helping current and future business owners launch or expand their business, increase their online presence, market their products, and make use of essential tools and applications, such as Zelle, Venmo, Square, Facebook for Business, Instagram, Yelp, among others.

With T-Mobile’s sponsorship, four UnidosUS Affiliates launched the program in July 2021, with two additional organizations coming onboard in December 2021, funded by AARP*:

  • Chicago Federation of San Diego County (San Diego, CA)
  • Mission Economic Development Agency (San Francisco, CA)
  • Mujeres Latinas en Acción (Chicago, IL)
  • Northeast Ohio Hispanic Center for Economic Development (Cleveland, OH)
  • Enterprising Latinas (Wimauma, FL)*
  • El Centro de la Raza (Seattle, WA)*

The pilot program was a resounding success, with over 350 business owners and entrepreneurs enrolling. As result of the training, participants reported an increase in knowledge of digital tools and the adoption of technology in their business operations. 87% of program participants reported being “very satisfied” with the experience, including Bismark and Amarilis, who shared their stories with us.


REVVING UP REVENUE IN SAN FRANCISCO

Bismark completed Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA)’s business development program in 2018, with the goal of planning and launching his business and in 2019, he received a business loan through MEDA’s CDFI Fondo Adelante. After working with his uncle for years, Bismark was able to acquire the business: Bismark Autobody Shop in San Francisco, CA.

In 2021, Bismark returned to MEDA, this time enrolling in their Latinx in Business program, where he learned how to take advantage of the internet to promote his business and increase the online presence. Now, he has a presence on Google My Business, Facebook, Pinterest and Yelp – leading to an increase in revenues! Bismark is an advocate for the program, and always happy to share his experience with other small business owners.


PICTURE-PERFECT: A DECADE OLD DREAM IS FULFILLED

Amarilis moved from Puerto Rico to Florida just over nine years ago and dreamed of starting a business to increase her independence. However, she found herself surrounded by barriers because she did not speak English. Amarilis found work as a janitor and enrolled in English classes. Soon, she was working at Walmart, climbing the ranks and ascending into a supervisory role – she oversees hiring and training for the online sales department. Earlier this year, Amarilis decided to turn her attention back to that dream.

Amarilis heard that Enterprising Latinas, located in Wimauma, Florida, was the place to go for women looking to start a business. She attended an orientation session and enrolled in the April 2022 cohort. Amarilis had already invested nearly five thousand dollars in 360-degree photo booth equipment but didn’t know how to get started. The training answered many questions for her, including how to set up a business, purchase a domain, establish an online presence, and use social media accounts like Facebook, Instagram and Tik-Tok to promote her business. Amarilis registered her business, Be You 360 Photobooth, Inc. with the state in May, and opened a business banking account. Her business is open for all photography and party rental equipment needs in the Wimauma and Tampa area!

Amarilis is driven by becoming an inspiration to other women. She says that she wants Latinas to know that language should not be a barrier to success, and that with a little help, they can pursue their small business ownership dreams, too.


LOOKING AHEAD

At an event in May 2022, T-Mobile surprised program completers with an iPhone 13 and 12 months of free service through MetroPCS.

Now in its second year, UnidosUS’s Latinx in Business program will serve over 600 small business owners and entrepreneurs, and has expanded into four additional locations:

  • Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School (Washington, D.C.)
  • Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation Inc. (Brooklyn, NY)
  • Shirlington Employment and Education Center (Arlington, VA)
  • El Centro Hispano (Durham, NC)

For more information about the Latinx in Business program, contact Roger Figueroa, Senior Program Manager at UnidosUS: rfigueroa@unidosus.org.

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