As a Colombian working for Accion, the largest microfinance organization in the United States, I have come to interact with various Hispanic entrepreneurs. I have been able to get to know their personal stories, their innovative business ideas and provide them with educational articles and business resources. For Hispanic Heritage Month I felt compelled to reflect on my experience working with these entrepreneurs.
September 15 to October 15, 2013 is Hispanic Heritage Month, a time to celebrate history, culture, and achievements. And one of those achievements is the notable, positive impact of the Hispanic community on the U.S. economy.
With the growth of the Hispanic population in the U.S. and their culturally engrained entrepreneurial spirit, Hispanics have become a major driver for economic growth in the U.S. Many have learned about starting a business from a young age, and have dedicated their teenage and adult years to developing and growing family businesses. Meanwhile, others have emigrated from their home countries, having to start a business from scratch in order to provide a promising future for their families and friends they left behind.
Although Hispanic entrepreneurs have faced difficult obstacles, such as a lack of capital and technical assistance, or the absence of support networks, many have had the tenacity to overcome these challenges and achieve their business goals.
It is interesting to see the significant impact Hispanic small businesses have had on the U.S. economy. In President Obama’s Agenda, the Hispanic community is attributed to being a contributor to future U.S. economic growth. And as the fastest growing minority, Hispanics have caused a shift in the marketplace—resulting in many companies adapting to meet the needs and purchasing power of the community. Many countries, including the U.S., have taken notice to these market shifts, and have recognized the value in investing in ideas that can benefit the growth of different communities.
The La Idea program, an initiative of the U.S. State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development, has created a platform to connect Hispanic entrepreneurs in the U.S. with entrepreneurs in Latin America. As one of the partners of La Idea, The Accion U.S. Network created an online community connecting entrepreneurs, shared business education resources within the community, and offered trainings and access to finance to help entrepreneurs develop their business ideas and achieve their dreams.
Hispanics are and will remain characterized by their tenacity, entrepreneurial spirit and leadership. That is why it is important to create new opportunities and promote programs like Idea for the Hispanic small businesses community—to promote growth, economic opportunities and job creation.