Despite hurdles that exist, Latino entrepreneurship is growing, leading many to have an optimistic view of the future for Hispanic-owned businesses.
That was the tone set during the Aug. 9 Latina Empowerment Luncheon held in San Marcos as part of the Hispanic Business Convention (HBC) organized by the Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce (TAMACC).
“With Hispanic entrepreneurs, they do everything. They take out the trash, manage Human Resources and the front and back of the office,” Anton said. “We need to educate them. There are a lot of issues, but they are meeting these goals and they’re getting the education they need and it’s starting to thrive.”Pauline Anton, TAMACC president and CEO, said Latino-owned businesses are starting to thrive in Texas, but education is a key element for success. Ultimately, Latino businesses are the backbone of the economy in Texas.
Anton said there are more than 700,000 Latino-owned businesses in Texas, but many face an uphill battle when it comes to getting capital, employees and education. Organizations such as TAMACC, along with expos such as the HBC, allow Latino entrepreneurs to further understand the ins and outs of business life.
Anton said seminars held during the HBC included workshops on legal issues business owners might face, to how to manage their books.
An equally pivotal component is having more Latinos in elected office. Anton said Latino elected officials are a voice for their communities as well as advocates for minority-owned businesses. They also have a grounded understanding of the adversity people in their community face.
“They will be there and they are a voice,” Anton said. “That’s the biggest thing – we need advocates.”
Lina Hidalgo, Harris County judge and a speaker at the Empowerment Luncheon, said Latino elected officials are leading the way for other minorities to grow and thrive in their communities and are also setting an example for the future.
Hidalgo said Latinos are more likely than any other demographic group to start a business and be successful. They do so with “one hand tied behind our back.” Sticking together and working as one are keys Hidalgo said are needed for Latino business owners to thrive.
Understanding the importance of all Latinos participating in the 2020 Census is also essential, as its results will offer federal funds for the state over the next decade, Hidalgo said.
“We have less access to capital and we face barriers other groups don’t face and that’s exacerbated in this day and age,” Hidalgo said.
Large corporations such as Walmart are taking a more proactive approach toward opening doors for Latinos in the workforce, said Daniel Morales, director of Government Affairs at Walmart.
Several examples included Walmart employees who began as associates and went on to rise up the chain and become managers of multiple stores.
Along with increasing wages by 15 percent over the last few years, Morales said Walmart has invested heavily in training academies for its employees to help build skills for the future. That includes a college program assisting employees who pay $1 per day of work with obtaining a bachelor’s degree.
“There is an incredible opportunity at Walmart and more women are taking advantage of this opportunity every day,” Morales said.
For Hidalgo, breaking the glass ceiling on diversity is also needed for minority successes down the road. That extends to those who vie for elected office and how it can help bring change.
Hidalgo cited numerous changes made in Harris County government since she was elected to office in November 2018.
“I recognized sometimes you have to be on the inside to make a difference,” Hidalgo said.