Meet the Latina CEO who Won’t Stop Exceeding Expectations
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Irma Olgui stands smiling with arms folded

Irma Olguin, the tech CEO of Geekwise Academy, is not your typical CEO. Though she lives in California, where many business owners have taken to big cities, such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, Olguin runs her business in Fresno, California, one of the poorest cities in the United States.

She spends her workdays with pink hair, normally wearing T-shirts and jeans, and depended on recycling cans and bottles to afford the transportation fee to the University of Toledo, where she was the first person in her family to earn her degree.

Through her studies, Olguin found her passion for computer science and engineering, a field that is predominately male. Following her graduation in 2004, Olguin had several opportunities to work various tech jobs near her school but ultimately decided to return to Fresno in an attempt to boost the economy. While working with Fresno school districts in both teaching and performing computer programming work, Olguin teamed up with property lawyer Jake Sobreal in 2012. Both being Fresno natives, Olguin and Sobreal decided it was time to teach the natives of their hometown the skills they would need to boost their economy and to better provide for themselves.

In 2013, Geekwise Academy was born, a crash course learning center for coding, technology, and business skills. The academy has given people with a wide variety of backgrounds the inspiration and tools needed to jump back into the workforce. Graduates of the Geekwise Academy have included military veterans, newly released prisoners, and even make up 25% of Shift3 Technologies’ staff.

With the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, Olguin decided to defy the expectations of a potential crashing economy and use the situation to her advantage. In March of 2020, Geekwise Academy went digital where the company received double their usual clientele, despite having opened more locations two years before. Despite the pandemic, Olguin and Sobreal are still working toward opening new locations, despite uncertain real estate numbers.

Given their estimated $27 million in capital backing, $20 million in revenue, and her past of consistently defeating the odds, Olguin’s desire to grow her company, stimulate the economy, and help those desiring a better career, are looking positive. Of her company, Olguin says, “We’ve found a fundamentally different way to rebuild American cities, especially at a time when folks are looking around and saying, ‘What do we do with our economy?’ We think we have the answer to that.”

These Latina Businesses Are Changing How LA Shops — Online And IRL
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Latina Business Hija de tu Madre, a clothing, accessories and jewelry brand founded by Patty Delgado.

By Eva Recinos, LA ist

It’s easy to feel cynical about companies pushing identity for profit — witness major retailers stamping feminist mottos on everything from t-shirts and tote bags to baby onesies and barware — but some local brands are the genuine article. They’re not jumping on any bandwagon. They’re Latina-owned lifestyle businesses, creating and selling items to their communities. “We’re at a time where people are craving independently made wares, handmade wares and cultural goods,” says Noelle Reyes, co-founder of Highland Park boutique Mi Vida.

As online shopping decimates mega malls and forces old school retailers to rethink their strategies, independent brands are stepping up, using social media and community connections to make their mark. These businesses represent only a few of the city’s budding entrepreneurs but they’re making an impact — both online and in the real world.

Social Media Stars
Leah Guerrero has been making holistic skincare products — facial masks, face and body creams, hydrosols — since 2013. Two years ago, using knowledge and ingredients she gleaned from her trips to the mercados of Mexico City, she founded Brujita Skincare out of her home. She began selling her wares at Molcajete Dominguero, a now-monthly Latinx pop-up market in Boyle Heights. Her target audience? People looking for affordable vegan and cruelty-free products.

As the crowds grew, so did her social media following. Guerrero started sending products to friends and influencers. That “ricocheted into all of these people finding out about Brujita through Instagram,” she says.

To keep up with demand, she currently produces “thousands of units a month” at a rented studio in downtown Los Angeles. In April, Brujita launched a Green Collection in collaboration with Hotel Figueroa. Guests who order the Self-Care Package through mid-September get a one-night stay and a sleek toiletry bag containing four of the brand’s products.

With more than 19,000 followers, Brujita’s Instagram account features the requisite product photos, GIFs and behind-the-scenes peaks at new products. Guerrero engages with customers via DM and shares info on the account about the ingredients in each product. “With the engagement comes trust, and trust in my community means a whole lot to me,” she says.

Brujita has built a community that Guerrero wants to continue nurturing, particularly Latinx and LGBTQ+ groups. The brand’s current studio, in downtown Los Angeles, serves as a safe space for the LGBT community, with many “friends coming in and out and doing their creative work,” Guerrero says. Brujita is meant to be stylish, accessible and inclusive, a counterpoint to mainstream skincare brands built on Western ideals of beauty. Guerrero says a more formal physical location for Brujita Skincare is in the works.

Brick By Brick
For other Los Angeles brands, the IRL business came before the social media one. Reyes and her cousin, Danelle Hughes, opened Mi Vida in 2008, two years before Instagram debuted. The Highland Park shop sells clothes, housewares and art. It also functions as a gallery and a community hub, hosting poetry readings, yoga classes and meditation workshops.

“If you were a business that was a brick and mortar when social media came on, it’s almost like you automatically had to take on this new career,” Reyes says.

She began using photography to promote her products and it became a creative outlet. Instagram is also a way for her to scout and connect with new artists, some of whom have been featured in the store. Although Reyes has noticed more customers visiting Mi Vida after discovering it online, the connection also works the other way. For her, social media is a tool to supplement her store’s presence in a neighborhood where the founders have been working hard for years.

Conversations about gentrification in Boyle Heights are heated, and Mi Vida’s owners are aware of the controversy. “We hear all the time how great it is to have a space like ours on this street,” Reyes says. “That is something we don’t take lightly. We work very hard every day to continue to be a positive light in our community and offer products that bring a positive vibe.”

Click here to read the full article on LA ist.

‘Investing Latina’ Founder Jully-Alma Taveras Reveals the Best Investing Moves She’s Made
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Investing Latina Founder Jully-Alma Taveras pictures in front of a brown backgrop while wearing a black blazer

By Gabrielle Olya, Yahoo! Finance

Jully-Alma Taveras is the founder of Investing Latina, an educational online community with over 40,000 members. She is an award-winning bilingual money expert, writer, YouTuber, speaker and educator who covers topics around personal finance, investing and entrepreneurship.

Recognized by GOBankingRates as one of Money’s Most Influential, here she shares the best investing moves she’s made, why consistency is key when it comes to investing for the long-term and how to get started if you’re new to investing.

Recognized by GOBankingRates as one of Money’s Most Influential, here she shares the best investing moves she’s made, why consistency is key when it comes to investing for the long-term and how to get started if you’re new to investing.

What advice would you give your younger self about investing?
I would tell myself, “Hey, start researching all the companies you already buy from — Amazon, Apple, Nike — and consider investing into them!”

What is the best thing you did to boost your own portfolio?
I moved away from managed funds to index funds. This is helping me save so much money in fees.

When it comes to investing for the long-term, what should people focus on?
I would tell people to focus on how much they are investing and their plan to increase the amount. You can always make adjustments to your assets in your portfolio, but building it up takes time and it takes a plan of action. You have to be consistent.

What is the biggest mistake people make when it comes to investing?
Not getting started sooner. People hold off because they are intimidated or don’t understand it. But the reality is that a two-hour workshop like the one I host is all the time you need to dedicate to education to get started. I make it simple and clear so that people can start learning and earning through compounding interest.

Click here to read the full article on Yahoo! Finance

How to Negotiate A Permanent Work-From-Home Arrangement
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young hispanic woman working using computer laptop concentrated and smiling

By Jillian Kramer

The pandemic changed a lot for workers, including where they work. A study conducted early in the outbreak showed nearly one-third of U.S. workers were working from their homes — and presumably some of those workers won’t want to return to the office when their employers call them back.

“Working from home can provide employees many benefits,” says Ray Luther, executive director of the Partnership for Coaching Excellence and Personal Leadership at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business, “including a much shorter commute time, fewer distractions and a sense of freedom that might not come from reporting to an office every day.”

But negotiating a permanent work-from-home arrangement may not be a slam-dunk. Employers have “traditionally worried about employee productivity when working from home,” Luther says, adding some managers may feel they’ll lose control of employees they can’t see in person.

It’s not impossible, though. “Employees who want to make working from home permanent would be wise to put themselves in their employers’ shoes,” Luther says. “What would my employer be concerned about, and how can I show them that those concerns are minimal risks? For most employees, if you can demonstrate high-productivity, accessibility and still build productive relationships on your work teams, you will have addressed most managers’ significant concerns.” Here’s exactly how you can negotiate a permanent work-from-home arrangement.

Demonstrate your productivity.

To be allowed to continue to work from home, employers will want proof you’re as productive at home as you are in an office. “Quantify and qualify the work you’ve accomplished on a work-from-home trial or mandate,” says Luther. “How productive have you been on your own? How have you worked with co-workers to learn through the new office systems? Where have you helped develop solutions to the challenges that work from home has potentially caused?” You’ll need concrete answers to those questions to convince your manager you can be trusted at home.

Come prepared with proof of your productivity — and kick off your negotiation with hard facts.

Prepare an action plan.

While you’ve already been working from home, you and your manager may not have collected hard evidence of your ability to do so successfully. If that’s the case, Maureen Farmer, founder and CEO of Westgate Executive Branding & Career Consulting, suggests you develop an action plan that will help your manager assess your ability to work from home over a trial period. Talk to your manager about what milestones he or she would like you to reach during the trial — for example, 90 days — and agree to check-ins during that time to see if you’re on track. “The offer of work-from-home must demonstrate value and benefit to the employer foremost,” Farmer says.

Build trust.

“Once you’ve demonstrated you can be productive, show that your employer can trust you,” says Luther, who adds that most managers’ concerns about employees working from home are rooted in a lack of trust. “How does the employer know they can trust you, and what have you done to demonstrate that trust? Are you accessible when they need you?” Luther asks. “Be prepared to make the case for why they can trust you to deliver even if they can’t see you in the office.”

One way you might demonstrate your trustworthiness is by proposing a communication plan in your negotiation, says Farmer. Such a plan would “lay out the periodic and regular touchpoints with each of [your] colleagues to ensure projects remain on task,” she says. “The communication plan will offer a guarantee that [you] will be available on-demand throughout the day by phone, email, text or message service. The employee must reassure the manager of their availability.”

Show you’re flexible.

It’s important during the negotiation to “listen to your employer’s concerns about working from home and seek to understand any objections,” says Luther. “While these concerns might not be as important to you, they provide clues where you could show flexibility to it doesn’t turn into an all or nothing situation.” For example, perhaps your manager would be more comfortable if you came into the office one day a week or for critical team meetings. “Working from home can provide many benefits for employees, even if it’s only four out of five days per week,” he says.

Source: Glassdoor

How three Latina women let go from 9NEWS are helping change the journalism industry
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Former 9NEWS journalists (from left) Lori Lizarraga, Sonia Gutierrez and Kristen Aguirre.

By , Denver Post

When model student Sonia Gutierrez was informed by her high school counselor in 2009 that college was out of the question because the young Colorado Latina lacked documentation, Gutierrez allowed herself an afternoon to sob, mourning the future she and her parents had worked toward their whole lives.

Then she got to work.

Gutierrez testified before the Colorado legislature in support of the ASSET bill, which passed in 2013 and allows qualifying students without legal status to pay in-state tuition rates. She shared her story with local journalists and was consistently disappointed in the coverage.

“I just remember thinking, ‘Well, of course. They don’t know what it’s like,’” said Gutierrez, now 30 and with permanent U.S. residency. “I have these white guys interviewing me about what it’s like to be here undocumented… I wanted to be the change that I wanted to see. I wanted to see stories told by my community — stories more fairly and truthfully representing what is happening. That was never going to happen unless people like us are doing that job.”

Gutierrez’s persistence paid off, landing her a 2012 internship at Denver’s 9NEWS, where she worked her way up to a full-time job, eventually meeting fellow Latina coworkers Lori Lizarraga and Kristen Aguirre.

However, the driving force behind Gutierrez’s journalistic pursuits — her family’s decision to come to America from Mexico when she was a baby and her struggle to obtain legal documentation — was thrown back in her face by 9NEWS, she alleged, when management told her she could only cover immigration-related stories if she disclosed her residency status in her reporting.

An article Lizarraga wrote for Westword last month laid out a story the three Latina reporters who were all let go by 9NEWS in the past year never imagined telling: allegations of discrimination in an industry that prides itself on holding others accountable and their dogged pursuit to tell their increasingly diverse community’s stories in spite of the obstacles in their way.

At a time when re-invigorated national conversations around racial justice are infiltrating industries across the country, Lizarraga’s disclosure rallied local Latina politicians, who called for meetings with the news organization; brought to light a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing from a major shareholder of 9NEWS parent company TEGNA alleging racial bias among top brass; and spurred TEGNA-wide change to the language the company’s journalists use when reporting on immigration.

“I look at these three women as my heroes,” said Rebecca Aguilar, president-elect of the Society of Professional Journalists and chair of SPJ’s diversity and inclusion committee. “We should be very proud of Lori for coming forward because she has told us the reality of what’s going on in that station and the realities of the news business. I believe in our SPJ Code of Ethics. We are not supposed to do people harm. What these managers have done to these three women is harm.”

9NEWS management declined a phone interview with The Denver Post and would not comment on the exits of Lizarraga, Aguirre and Gutierrez — the station didn’t renew their contracts — nor their allegations of discrimination, calling them personnel matters.

In a two-page statement, 9NEWS Director of Content Tim Ryan said the newsroom is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion. Recent efforts include a DEI committee, listening sessions with journalists of color, training on inclusive journalism practices and an upcoming diversity audit by a third-party researcher, Ryan said.

“While we are making progress, we know we have much more work to do,” Ryan wrote. “As with many things, some changes and improvements will happen quickly, and others will occur over time. Ultimately, we are committed to working with our employees and the greater Denver community on a holistic strategy and tangible actions that effectively enhance our culture and serve and represent our community.”

Click here to read the full article on Denver Post.

Can this Latina law professor tapped by Biden help reform the Supreme Court?
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Cristina M. Rodriguez, a professor at Yale Law School, will co-chair a commission examining the Supreme Cour

By Raul A. Reyes

Cristina M. Rodríguez, a professor at the Yale Law School and co-chair of President Joe Biden’s high court commission, is described as a sophisticated legal thinker.

A Latina law school professor has been tasked with examining the future of one of the country’s three branches of government.

President Joe Biden has signed an executive order creating a presidential commission to study whether the Supreme Court should be overhauled, and he has named Yale Law School professor Cristina M. Rodríguez as its co-chair. Rodríguez and Bob Bauer, a professor at the New York University School of Law, will head the bipartisan commission to examine arguments both for and against a reform.

PHOTO: NBC

Rodríguez’s appointment to the commission earned praised from colleagues. “Cristina Rodríguez is absolutely up for this task. She is a sophisticated legal thinker and a good leader,” Kevin R. Johnson, dean of the University of California, Davis, School of Law, told NBC News. “I think that Biden has great confidence in her, and that his administration wanted somebody who would get the job done well, and in a deliberate and inclusive way.”

Along with Bauer, Rodríguez will preside over the commission that will study topics such as length of service, turnover of justices, membership and case selection. The commission includes some of the nation’s best-known legal scholars and experts: Laurence H. Tribe of the Harvard Law School, Sherrilyn Ifill of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, and Andrew Crespo, also of the Harvard Law School. Crespo, who is of Puerto Rican heritage, was the first Latino president of the Harvard Law Review.

“She (Rodríguez) is not overly ideological or doctrinaire,” Johnson said. “She is someone who will make sure that we don’t see a politicization of the commission. As co-chair, she will bring a level of calm and thoughtfulness to any discussion she is involved in.”

Rodríguez, whose father is from Cuba and her mother from Puerto Rico, grew up in a bilingual household in San Antonio and attended Yale College and the Yale Law School. She studied at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, as well.  She became Yale Law’s first tenured Hispanic faculty member in 2013. Prior to that, she served for two years as the deputy assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice, and also clerked for then-Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

Rodríguez’s legal background and training make her a member of an elite group. According to a 2018 report by the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA), Latinas comprised less than 2 percent of U.S. lawyers, and just 1.3 percent of law professors.

Rodríguez is well-suited for her new role, according to Elia Diaz-Yaeger, national president of the HNBA. “It is a huge job, and it is important to have someone from outside of the political arena,” she said. “Rodríguez is a scholar of the law, she analyzes verbiage and what the Constitution says, and her work has focused on constitutional theory and administrative law.”

Diaz-Yaeger said that she was excited to see the diverse perspectives and backgrounds represented on the commission. In her view, discussions about Supreme Court reform or restructuring could be constructive. “The size of the court has actually fluctuated throughout history – and we want the court to be representative of the people whose lives their decisions are affecting.”

Limited polling suggests that Latinos may be open to the idea of Supreme Court reform. A 2019 Quinnipiac poll found that 63 percent of Hispanics believed that the Supreme Court was mainly motivated by politics, and 61 percent of Hispanics said that it should be restructured to reduce the influence of politics. And this was before the rushed confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett in 2020 made the issue of reform even more contentious.

 

THIS CHEF IS TRYING TO OPEN A VEGAN BAKERY AND LATINX SOCIAL JUSTICE CAFÉ IN SEATTLE
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Lara de la Rosa wearing a white sweater and smiling in front of the camera while she leans on her left hand in front of a mint green cake with pink icing and flowers.

By JOCELYN MARTINEZ, VegNews

Seattle-based vegan baker Lara de la Rosa recently launched a campaign on crowdfunding site GoFundMe to open Casa del Xoloitzcuintle (Case del Xolo), a vegan bakery and Latinx social justice café. Founder of Seattle’s vegan bakery Lazy Cow Bakery, de la Rosa’s mission to make veganism easy and affordable for the masses while advocating for social justice is the driving force behind Casa del Xolo.

While the café menu will feature Lazy Cow Bakery’s cakes along with new sweet treats such as macaroons and croissants, de la Rosa is most excited about the new savory items currently in development. “We are currently testing quiche recipes,” de la Rosa told VegNews. “There’s just something about cheesy, herby roasted vegetables in a fluffy egg filling. I promise our quiche will be just as satisfying but with none of the animal exploitation.”

A café for the cultura
With a $30,000 fundraising goal, de la Rosa has plans for Casa del Xolo to be more than just a vegan bakery and café. Eyes set on a space in the city’s University District, Casa del Xolo will double as a Latinx cultural center complete with a stage for events, food pantry, community fridge, and Spanish classes.

“We see veganism as just another branch in the tree of social justice reform,” de la Rosa said. “Our food pantry will be 100 percent vegan. There’s no need for us to exploit one segment of our population to help another segment when we can simply help both by offering a plant-based pantry.” Taking food pantries a step further, de la Rosa hopes to offer free, ready-to-eat meals for people experiencing homelessness, a reality de la Rosa has experienced herself. “I want people to get used to the idea that food should be free,” she said. “While food pantries are known to have pantry staples, I’m going to try and eventually [stock] ready-made food items. Pantry staples are great for those who have access to kitchens but many houseless people do not.”

Along with Latinx-focused programming, veganism will also be a common thread present throughout the center’s work. De la Rosa plans to host free lectures, debates, and documentary screenings at Casa del Xolo to help educate patrons about veganism.

Latinx in Seattle
According to the US Census Bureau, seven percent of Seattle’s population identified as Latinx in 2019. For Mexican-born de la Rosa, it is evident the city’s resources are not being allocated for Latinx cultural events and centers. “From Swedish Cultural Centers to Finnish museums, [Seattle] has these grandiose, multi-million dollar buildings in prime real estate locales for countries a million miles away that have an extremely small percentage of people living here,” de la Rosa said. “If only [the city] had the same vigor for the Brown-majority country [the US] shares a border with.”

Click here to read the full article on Veg News.

The Unconventional Hiring Strategy the Smartest Companies Use to Find Superstar Employees
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group shot of professional diverse employees

Sometimes the best path to success is the one few people take. After all, if you do what other people do, you can achieve only what they achieve.

Taking the road less traveled. Turning conventional wisdom on its head. Doing what other people cannot — or, more to the point, will not — do.

Take hiring. Recruiting and hiring superstar employees is tough for small businesses with limited resources. That means looking where others won’t — and taking chances others won’t.

Hold that thought.

In 2018, the job site TalentWorks conducted a survey of nearly 7,000 job applicants across 100 industries.

A key finding: Applicants who were fired, laid off, or quit their previous job within 15 months were nearly half as hirable as applicants who stayed at their previous job for more than 15 months. (Of the “longer term” candidates, 13.4 percent got interviews, compared with only 7.6 percent of the under 15-monthers.)

Why? Since the average hiring manager spends less than 60 seconds scanning a resume, applicants who didn’t spend long at their last job clearly raised a red flag. For many, what appeared to be “job hopping” was a straightforward, time-saving sorting tool.

Granted, that approach makes some sense. Staying at a job for less than a year results in understandable implications. If I was fired, I must not have been capable. If I quit, I must be unreliable. If I got laid off, I must not have been someone the company could better afford to not let go.

Sometimes those things are true.

But sometimes they’re not. Getting fired within 15 minutes definitely raises a red flag. At a minimum, the individual wasn’t a good fit.

As for quitting? Maybe the company wasn’t a good fit — for the employee.

We’ve all hired people who didn’t turn out to be what we thought. The reverse is true for employees. In a competitive hiring landscape, companies often sell themselves — sometimes really hard — to potential employees.

Plenty of people have joined a company only to find out it wasn’t what they thought. The job itself was different than advertised. The culture was different. The responsibility, or autonomy, or opportunities were different.

As for getting laid off? Many companies forced to make cuts simply lay off their least-tenured employees. (If nothing else, that makes it really easy to justify why certain people got laid off.)

All of which creates a pool of potentially great candidates many other companies have ignored.

The next time you have an opening, do what many people do and put all the candidates who stayed in their last job for a short period of time into a separate pile.

But don’t discard that pile. Take the time to look at each applicant closely. The programmer who left her last job after eight months but worked at her second-to-last job for eight years might be perfect.

Maybe she took that job because it seemed like a great opportunity. Maybe she took that job because it was a chance to be one of a startup’s first employees.

Who knows why she left after eight months?

You will, if you look closely — and then ask.

If you can’t with other companies for the best employees, stop trying.

Do what they won’t do. Look where they won’t look.

That way you won’t have to compete.

Jeff Haden is a speaker, Inc. Magazine contributing editor, author of The Motivation Myth, and ghostwriter.

These 3 Latinas Scientists Are at the Forefront of Fighting Against the Spread of COVID-19
LinkedIn
three latina scientists in lab coats standing in the lab together looking confident with arms folded

BY TONI GONZALES

They call themselves “Las Tres Mosqueteras (The Three Musketeers),” and they certainly live up to their nickname being on the frontline of fighting against the spread of the Coronavirus.

The three Latinas in lab coats are Connie Maza (33), Monica Mann (34) and Elizabeth Zelaya (36). The scientists and medical technologists are part of a small team in Washington, D.C.’s Department of Forensic Sciences’ Public Health Laboratory Division. The trio has been working in the lab for a number of years, when in early 2020 they were thrust together into the spotlight after testing and reporting the first, initial COVID-19 cases in the area.

Photo: Courtesy Instagram

Since the early days the heaviness has been constant. “It’s just unbelievable, the pressure we had. We were under a microscope at that point,” Maza said. “It was scary at first. I was very nervous.” Over 12 months later, the ladies have seen cases skyrocket across the world and all while they remained at the forefront of the pandemic. The women have gone from reporting cases, to identifying and analyzing different Coronavirus mutations, and now onto seeing how the variants spread.

It’s a job that still comes as a surprise to people Zelaya told NBC News.”I do get that sometimes when people ask me what I do. I tell them I’m a scientist and they’re like, ‘Really? What?’ It’s like, ‘Yeah, sure am. I can tell you about some DNA if you want to learn,” she said. The reality is that while it is still revelatory for society, the numbers actually support the accepted stereotype of STEM consisting predominantly of men.

STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) careers is not a field that is made up of women-in particular Latina women. Even though women make up almost 50% of the population, only a third of the workforce working in science and engineering fields are women. Even worse, Latinas make up only about 2% of STEM degrees earned according to a 2016 National Science Board study.

The lack of Latinas in their field is an ever present thought in their minds. “You know what used to be the medical field, the science field, laboratory field being run by white males? Now, it has turned into this beautiful rainbow of colors,” Mann said. For her colleague Zelaya, it’s even bigger than that. “Every day I reflect and I’m like, ‘Wow, this is probably going to be in a history book.’”

Their work is far from being over. The pandemic still has a significant hold over the nation and the world. But, the end is in sight for the first time in a long time for the women who are very much looking forward to vacation.”Vacation together? Yeah!” said Zelaya.

STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) careers is not a field that is made up of women-in particular Latina women. Even though women make up almost 50% of the population, only a third of the workforce working in science and engineering fields are women. Even worse, Latinas make up only about 2% of STEM degrees earned according to a 2016 National Science Board study.

Read the full article at Remezcla.

Supporting an inclusive economy: small businesses, Black and Latinx entrepreneurs, and their intersection
LinkedIn
woman's hand pictured holding pen and calculator

For many of us, connections to small businesses are deeply personal—your local barber shop or family dentist, the spot for the best pizza in town, the small contractor you call to fix your leak.

Businesses like these make up the fabric of our communities—but many don’t realize what a big role they play, collectively, in the U.S. economy.

However, they face unique challenges even in the strongest of times and now, amidst the covid-19 pandemic, many small businesses are struggling to survive.

The situation at hand

JPMorgan Chase Institute research found that prior to the covid-19 pandemic, typical small businesses had only enough cash on hand to keep the lights on for two to three weeks. This was even more pronounced for small businesses in majority-Black and Latinx communities, where the typical business had only one to two weeks of reserves.

Interestingly, researchers found that in the Fall of 2020, many small businesses actually had cash reserves at higher levels than normal. This seems like great news—but when you look under the hood, the situation is more precarious. [3]

There are two factors to explain the elevated reserves: 1) an injection of cash from federal and local policy shored up many of the businesses likely to face a shortfall, and 2) a decision many businesses made to delay or dial back payments on things like upkeep of key assets, limiting wages or employee benefits, or other choices that may not be financially healthy in the months or years ahead.[4]

So, while cash balances are larger than usual, they may not be enough for small businesses to continue to survive in these tumultuous times. Expenses have already begun to outpace revenue. This trend could have a disproportionate impact on Black- and Latinx-owned companies, that tend to experience lower revenues and profit margins compared to white-owned counterparts.[5]

Help in many forms

Many small businesses face similar challenges: lack of access to capital and resources to grow. However, businesses owned by people of color and other underserved groups face these challenges more acutely. For example, according to the JPMorgan Chase Institute, Black, Latinx and women-owned small businesses are underrepresented among firms with substantial external financing. While there are no simple solutions, business, government and nonprofit leaders should work together to support, sustain and grow these critical enterprises.

For example, December’s $900 billion stimulus package included a second infusion of PPP funds, with $12 billion set aside for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs).

While the terms might be unfamiliar, you likely already know your local CDFI or MDI. Some local banks or credit unions might fall into this category.

An MDI is a bank whose ownership or leadership is made up of a majority of people of color. CDFIs are community lenders, which primarily finance in low- and moderate-income communities and focus on small businesses, as well as affordable housing and nonprofits. Both MDIs and CDFIs earn these designations from the federal government, due to the vital financial services they provide in communities that are often underserved. CDFIs in particular are designed to meet these needs by offering capital and guidance to help ensure the success of vulnerable businesses. We think that’s a winning combination.

But MDIs and CDFIs need banks to provide additional capital to fund this critical work in communities. Here’s where JPMorgan Chase comes in.

Part of the solution

We believe that business has a role to play in addressing societal issues, along with business and community leaders. JPMorgan Chase is committed to building a more inclusive economy and our support for small business, especially in Black and Latinx communities, is a critical element of this work.

That’s why, in February, the firm announced new initiatives focused on providing MDIs and diverse-led CDFIs with additional access to capital, connections to institutional investors, specialty support for Black-led commercial projects, and mentorship and training opportunities. Initial investments and commitments to minority-owned and Black-led MDIs included Liberty Bank and Trust, M&F Bank, Carver Federal Savings Bank and Broadway Federal Bank. The firm also committed $42.5 million to expand the Entrepreneurs of Color Fund to reach new U.S. cities in 2021, providing loans and technical assistance to minority-owned small businesses in collaboration with LISC and a network of CDFIs. Since its inception in Detroit in 2015, the Entrepreneurs of Color Fund has deployed more than $32 million to Black, Latinx and other underserved entrepreneurs, including Jimmie Williams from Chicago, who received a small business loan to scale his landscaping company. In addition, we continue our direct support for small business, including through PPP.

This work is part of the $30 billion commitment over five years we announced in October 2020 to provide economic opportunity to underserved communities to help close the racial wealth divide. The firm is continuing to put this commitment into practice by combining our business, policy, data and philanthropic expertise.

We are committing $350 million over five years to help grow Black, Latinx, woman-owned and other underserved small businesses. This includes:

Philanthropy, low-cost loans and direct equity investments: Supporting the signature Ascend Program, helping build the capacity of diverse-led nonprofits across the globe to more effectively support entrepreneurs, and investing in early-stage businesses to help companies drive economic opportunity, including in Black and Latinx communities. Last month we made our initial direct equity investment in Bitwise Industries.
Policy: Releasing new data-driven policy solutions such as increasing resources for the Small Business Administration (SBA) Microloan program, which provides loans of up to $50,000 to help small businesses. The firm will support advancing these policy reforms to help address the immediate and long-term challenges small business owners face.
Supplier diversity: Spending an additional $750 million with Black and Latinx suppliers, and co-investing up to $200 million in middle market businesses that are or will be minority owned via a new initiative with Ariel Alternatives.
Wrap-around support: Launching a nationwide Minority Entrepreneurs program to help entrepreneurs in historically underserved areas access 1:1 coaching, technical assistance and capital.

Together, these commitments will help reduce barriers to capital access and support the growth of thousands of additional underserved businesses.

Read the full article on the Washington Post.

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