Supporting an inclusive economy: small businesses, Black and Latinx entrepreneurs, and their intersection
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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.

Jennifer Lopez Steps Out in Hometown of the Bronx to Support Latina-Owned Small Businesses
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Jennifer Lopez posing in Bronx bookstore smiling

By Rachel DeSantis, People

Jennifer Lopez is still giving back to the block that raised her.

The star made an appearance in New York City to support Latina small business owners in her hometown of the Bronx of Sunday, which comes as the first part of a new philanthropy push for Lopez.

The Hustlers actress, 52, stopped by indie bookstore The Lit. Bar alongside Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon and Isabella Guzman, the administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, and announced a new partnership with Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses meant to help elevate and support Latina entrepreneurs.

While there, the trio spoke with the store’s founder Noelle Santos and other Latina business owners about growing their businesses and how they’ve navigated the pandemic, just in time for National Hispanic Heritage Month, which kicks off this week.

Lopez’s new partnership with Goldman Sachs will work to recruit more Latina entrepreneurs to 10,000 Small Businesses, a program that offers support and opportunities to help owners grow their companies and create new jobs.

It’s the first initiative for the “On the Floor” singer under an upcoming philanthropy push called Limitless Labs.

Photos and video published by TMZ show that Lopez — who made a surprise appearance at the MTV VMAs hours later as a presenter — was accompanied to the event by boyfriend Ben Affleck, with whom she recently rekindled her romance nearly 18 years after they called off their engagement.

Click here to read the full article on People.

The Naked Truth About Virtual Conferences
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finger pressing on Virtual Event key on keyboard

By Mona Lisa Faris

Over the last year, we’ve found many new and creative ways to network in every sphere. Office meetings are often held through conference lines and Zoom calls, and you’ve probably never sent more emails in your life than you have during the stay-at-home order.

But, one of the biggest changes that came to the professional world was how we would conduct our yearly conferences. Organizations have had to learn how to bring together hundreds upon thousands of people in one space in a way that is accessible for all without too many technical difficulties. While there have been many amazing features to moving conferences to an online platform, the way in which they are conducted are far from perfect.

Here at DiversityComm, we’ve had the opportunity to attend many of last year’s virtual conferences. Here are some pros of what we’ve learned that works – and the cons of what doesn’t.

Pros:

  • Availability: Without the confines of a physical space or the need to travel to a set location, a digital platform allows anyone to be in attendance without ever leaving their homes. Speakers and attendees alike who would not have been able to participate due the physical barriers of the conference space are now readily available to connect, share and grow with individuals they may have otherwise never met.
  • Special Features: Digital contact cards, company video presentations and recorded panels are just a few of the many features online platforms have made available. The annoyance of repeating your pitch, running out of business cards or having to decide between two panels at the same time has become a thing of the past. Even if you can’t attend a virtual event due to other commitments, many of the conferences allow you to watch and re-watch content for up to thirty days after the live event has ended, further increasing audience attendance. This kind of online platform also makes it easier for individuals with varying disabilities to access closed captions, audio adjustments and proper seating in a space where those services may have been more difficult to facilitate.
  • Affordability: Without the need of a physical conference space and its in-tandem travel fees, some of the biggest conferences in the business are now much more affordable than they were in-person. Businesses are able to save on the logistics of shipping cost, booth setup and travel, and send as many attendees as they would like to the conference at no additional cost.
  • Preparedness: From the interviewing process to presentations, digital platforms make it easier to be prepared for any issue that may come your way. Instead of worrying about printing enough resumes or forgetting paperwork, these files can be uploaded ahead of time for easy access, organization and viewing. Pre-recorded videos and quick computer accessibility during the conference also allows attendees and presenters alike to be more prepared to properly answer questions and have all the necessary information at their fingertips.

Cons:

  • Communication: The elimination of face-to-face interaction and an almost full dependence on written communication make it difficult to gauge how your conversations are going. Without the cues that come from body language or voice inflection, it’s harder to tell if you’re speaking to an interested recruiter or business client just based on emotionless words written in a chat box. The ability to miscommunicate is also much easier. Comments that were meant to be simple and understood can now be easily taken as rude or uninterested if misinterpreted by the listening party.
  • Overcrowding: The digital platform allows for more attendees to engage in critical information and resources, but it also means that you can be easily drowned out or forgotten. This has become such a problem that some individuals require you to have an appointment to speak with them. Having the constraints of a time slot or not having an appointment at all can prevent valuable connections from being fully explored. On the flip side, Massive virtual crowds can also mean talking to more individuals than you expected. Impromptu sales pitches to larger groups, or even the incorrect group, can leave both sides with little to gain besides missed opportunities to connect with the proper people.
  • Technical Difficulties: It may be a given, but especially with a platform that is so new and virtually unexplored, technical difficulties are common. Audio issues, visual issues, glitching, internet problems and crashing websites are just a few of the issues that were little to irrelevant in the physical conference space. Though tech support is available at many of these events to fix these bugs as soon as possible, the unavailability of resources can lead to missed opportunities, especially for individuals who depend on accessible technology to fully participate.
  • Difficult to Gauge the Takeaway: Similar to how it can be difficult to gauge the mood of a conversation online, it can be just as difficult to see if there was a takeaway from your conference. Event sponsors are not as visually prevalent in a digital space as they are in a physical setting, causing many of them to see little direct return on their services. Plus, without feedback from decision makers, you yourself can feel lost and unaccomplished in a space where you once felt the opposite.

For a second opinion on everything virtual conferences, check out what some of our partners had to say about attending these special events:

“Nothing will ever replace the bonds made interacting one-on-one at events or feeling the collective passion of a crowded conference ballroom. And yet, the unique shared experience of virtual programming throughout the pandemic has taught us how valuable technology can be to make experiences more equitable.  Since everyone, from the C-Suite to the intern, were home working in sweatpants, the virtual meeting world was far more democratized than real world events have ever been before.  But cutting out travel expenses, speaking fees, logistics planning, etc., attendees from anywhere, from the widest array of backgrounds, with any abilities (both financial and physical) could directly interact with others everywhere. I hope to see virtual attendance options remain at all future conferences and events since we’ve never made it easier for those with disabilities, those with financial restrictions, and those who may benefit more from personal space and privacy to thrive in meetings that may have previously been difficult, if not impossible, to attend before.”

  • Jonathan Lovitz, small business inclusion and policy leader / special advisor to NGLCC

“A virtual career fair, with non-person contact, is the next best thing to in-person recruitment outreach”.

  • Scot Evans, NCUA

“Like many event producers, we had to pivot our popular live Small Business Expos quickly to online Virtual Events.  Though our Virtual Events have been wildly successful, there is nothing like that feeling of meeting face-to-face with people, networking and building new business relationships in person.  At this point, over a year later, I think there is a huge pent up energy for our attendees to get back to our in-person events.  We are human, we need in-person social interaction.  With virtual events, there is a wall between you and the other person.  I think everyone is excited to break through that wall and finally meet face-to-face again!”

  • Zachary Lezberg, Founder & CEO, Small Business Expo

“The one big lesson AISES learned in executing our 2020 National Conference is to keep it simple when moving from an in-person event to a virtual setting. Our conference was successful, but we could have shortened the length of the event, reduced the number of sessions, and incorporated more breaks. Overall, the participants were happy with the cultural components that characterize AISES such as the talking circle, morning blessing, and ceremonial blessings. The 2021 AISES National Conference will be in-person and we plan to stream limited content for those who are only able to attend virtually.”

    Mona Lisa Faris headshot
    Mona Lisa Faris, Author and Publisher DiversityComm, Inc.
  • Katherine Cristiano, AISES Senior Director of Special Events
  • “By hosting the VIB Conference virtually last year we had more participation from smaller veteran-owned businesses that may have never attended due to cost or time. While attendees were still able to connect with corporations or government agencies through a virtual business matchmaking platform nothing will truly beat face-to-face meetings. As things begin to open, I think the future for events is blending the in-person with a virtual element so we can continue to cultivate the smaller veteran-owned businesses”

  • Rebecca Aguilera-Gardiner, CEO of VIB Network          

“Virtual career fairs have become the norm as a hiring strategy for many companies. As a large organization with thousands of job opportunities, virtual career fairs give us the opportunity to meet and learn more about perspective employees. These job fairs are different from the in-person experience, so come prepared and do your research in order to make a lasting impression on a recruiter or employer. Those who can adapt will have a great advantage.”

  • Kamille Morgan of Leidos

As the pandemic continues to show signs of coming to an end, it appears that conferences may be implementing more of a hybrid system where in-person and online attendance are both available. As we continue to grow in this digital space and learn from the mistakes and triumphs of this past year, hopefully we will see a positive change in this new conference world.

Meet The Founders Behind The Latina Power Shirts You’ve Been Eyeing
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Lifestyle brand JZD is an independently owned Latina e-retail brand with more than 40K followers on Instagram that include celebrities

By ANGELA BONILLA,  Refinery 9

Lifestyle brand JZD is an independently owned Latina e-retail brand with more than 40K followers on Instagram that include celebrities like Eva Longoria, America Ferrera, Diane Guerrero, and Jessica Marie Garcia from Netflix’s In My Block.

You may have seen the online retailer’s vibrant designs on your friends’ sherbet-colored tumblers and T-shirts printed with slogans like “Vacunada” and “No pasa nada.” Run by spouses Veronica and Jennifer Zeano, this line has become a source of covetable goods as well as a community for its socially conscious customers, many of whom love the Latinx pride and cultura the line espouses. Ever since its launch five years ago, JZD has steadily been attracting a fan base since its launch five years ago.

“Instagram is such a huge part of the business because that’s where we can talk to customers, meet new customers, and really develop this relationship with our customers where they’re our friends,” says Jennifer. “They feel like we know each other and we can hang out and talk.”

The customer response was overwhelming. “I realized that this is what we’re supposed to be doing, and we quickly shifted into this Latina empowerment brand where every product that we were thinking of, creating, and putting out into the world was with that goal and mission,” Jennifer tells Refinery29.

After the shirt, Jennifer and Veronica decided to start their own website, in which their now-iconic Latina Power shirt has become a best-seller. The pair finds inspiration for their wares from their own lives and communities — even the models who appear on the site used are usually their friends. “We make sure the models wearing our clothes are Latina, and really just want to make sure it’s with people that believe in the same mission and have values that align with ours,” says Jennifer. They also draw inspiration from their border town of Brownsville, Texas, which is across the U.S.-Mexico border from Matamoros.

Click here to read the full article on Refinery 9.

NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises Forms Hispanic Streaming Division, Promoting Romina Rosado To Lead It
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Kate del Castillo in Season 2 of Telemundo's "La Reina del Sur," which streams on Peacock.

By Dade Hayes Deadline

NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises has formed a new Hispanic Streaming business division, which will look to spur growth of Latinos on Peacock and across other Telemundo and NBCU platforms.

The new division will be responsible for developing a content slate with more than 50 projects, the first of which will arrive in 2022. Telemundo’s Romina Rosado has been promoted to EVP and GM of Hispanic streaming and will lead the new business unit. She will report to Beau Ferrari, chairman of NBCU Telemundo Enterprises.

Longtime linear rival Univision has been making moves in streaming, bulking up free, ad-supported service PrendeTV and laying groundwork for a subscription tier. Telemundo, by contrast, has not pursued a stand-alone service but instead emerged as a key supplier to Peacock, delivering thousands of hours of programming. Last month, NBCU parent Comcast said Peacock had reached 54 million sign-ups and 20 million monthly active users. It has both a free, basic tier and a $5-a-month Premium level.

“The NBCUniversal Telemundo Hispanic Streaming division immediately unifies and amplifies our unmatched resources and reach to our audience across the company, accelerating our presence on Peacock and the entire NBCU streaming portfolio,” Ferrari said in the official announcement. “Romina is an experienced media executive with a clear vision and knowledge for developing relevant content for the Latino and general market that will serve our company-wide approach to programming for the Hispanic streaming audience.”

In her new role, Rosado will lead cross-company efforts and collaborate with Peacock’s leadership in the development of the service’s Latino content. She will also collaborate with the recently created Telemundo Streaming Studios to develop and produce original content based on Peacock’s content strategy for Hispanics. Like NBCU overall, Telemundo is supplementing its roster of linear hits, like La Reina del Sur, with originals. It has high hopes for the fall of 2022, when it has exclusive Spanish-language rights to the World Cup.

One in four Americans under 35 is Hispanic, Rosado pointed out, “and they are voracious content consumers across languages and across platforms.” Using a company coinage, she described the target audience as “200-percenters” — viewers who are 100% Hispanic but also 100% American. “I look forward to partnering with Peacock and creators across the industry to tell stories that connect and represent this dynamic and vibrant community,” she said.

Click here to read the full article on Deadline.

U.S. markets regulator approves Nasdaq proposal to require corporate board diversity
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Diverse Equality Gender Innovation Management Concept

By Jessica Dinapoli

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission approved a proposal from stock exchange operator Nasdaq Inc (NDAQ.O) that requires its listed companies to have diverse boards, or explain why they do not.

The proposal requires that companies have two diverse directors, including one who identifies as female and another as an underrepresented minority or LGBTQ+, or explain why they do not. Companies also have to publicly disclose the diversity of their boards.

“These rules will allow investors to gain a better understanding of Nasdaq-listed companies’ approach to board diversity,” said SEC Chair Gary Gensler in a prepared statement.

Nasdaq said it is looking “forward to working with our companies to implement this new listing rule and set a new standard for corporate governance.”Women and minorities have been underrepresented in the top ranks of companies, leading to a recent reckoning on racial and gender diversity in Corporate America. According to data from Equilar, boards in the Russell 3000 are halfway to gender parity. In the Russell 1000, 18.4% of directors are under-represented minorities.

Investor efforts to scrutinize diversity on boards have also been stymied by a lack of disclosure, with many companies not detailing the gender and race or ethnicity of directors.

Republican lawmakers and some companies criticized Nasdaq’s proposal and urged the SEC to reject it, saying it would interfere with boards’ responsibilities to shareholders and could impose new costs on companies.

Advocates for people with disabilities had pushed both Nasdaq and the SEC to include disability in the proposal, but were “rebuffed,” said Ted Kennedy Jr, chairman of the American Association of People With Disabilities (AAPD), in an interview with Reuters.

Nasdaq said in a comment letter that companies could consider and disclose additional diverse attributes such as disability or veteran status. But those attributes would not meet the requirements for a female or person who identifies as an under-represented minority or LGBTQ+.

Read the original article posted on Reuters.

Mexican-born entrepreneur launches software platform to help small restaurants increase online order and delivery services
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Daniel Hernandez, entrepreneur and founder of The Apptopus. Photo Courtesy of Daniel Hernandez.

By Jensen Toussaint, Al Dia

Entrepreneurship was a path that Daniel Hernandez saw for himself starting at a very young age. As a middle school student, he used to sell candy to his classmates for $0.25, embarking on a venture that would plant the seeds to his career destination today.

Whether it was selling candy, having a paper route or later working at a restaurant, Hernandez envisioned ways he could both make money and also help his community along the way.

“Ever since I was in middle school, I always knew that I was going to be starting a business,” Hernandez said in an interview with AL DÍA.

Fast forward just over a decade later, and Hernandez is a successful entrepreneur who operates with the targeted goal of helping small business owners.

Most recently, he launched The Apptopus, a startup virtual management platform that brings online orders, delivery services and prepaid phone order processes in a simple and efficient manner to help small business owners and restaurateurs maintain services and increase revenue.

The endeavor was heavily influenced by Hernandez’s personal experiences and journey.

From Mexico to Santa Cruz
Hernandez was born and raised in Mexico, before being brought to the United States when he was seven years old, settling in Santa Cruz, California.

His family held previous ties to the Bay and nearby areas, as his grandfather was one of the contracted braceros from Mexico, who worked in agricultural labor all over California during the 1940s and 1950s.

Both of Hernandez’s parents are small business owners. His mother started a house cleaning service, which at one point expanded to 40 residences and offices. Hernandez, along with his father and younger brother, would often help out.

However, while the housing cleaning business brought about success, her passion was in another area.

“My mom has always had a gift for making food,” said Hernandez, especially praising her Oaxacan dishes.

“She always had a dream about opening a restaurant and being able to get a lot of people into her restaurant and feed them, so that they can enjoy her food,” he added.

Oftentimes, Hernandez would accompany his mother to events where she’d set up booths and make food for people to buy. Experiencing that made Hernandez also fall in love with cooking, later opening the door to his entry into the restaurant business.

Eventually, Hernandez’s mother decided to sell her house cleaning business to follow her dream of opening a restaurant.

Pandemic Problems
Hernandez’s mother officially opened the doors to her own restaurant in early 2020, with her son’s help.

However, just weeks after her grand opening, the COVID-19 pandemic started making waves across the globe.

“That really kind of almost took her out because she couldn’t even get any people into the restaurant. She was struggling … [and] it was a brand new location, too,” said Hernandez.

With takeout and delivery as the only options during the onset of the pandemic, Hernandez’s mother had to adjust.

Initially, Hernandez advised her to utilize third-party delivery companies, such as DoorDash, Uber Eats or GrubHub to help increase revenue. However, it proved challenging.

Hernandez noted how these companies would often upload the wrong menu, not include the restaurant’s contact number and provide very little instruction in how to set everything up properly.

“It wasn’t a very good process,” said Hernandez.

So, he decided to step in and help out.

“I learned that she was not the only one facing these problems,” he said. “A lot of restaurants out there are also facing the same issues.”

While the third-party delivery companies were generating a lot of orders, restaurants were losing revenue as a result of commission fees, erroneous charges and other deductions.

He recalled one time his mother was charged $250 in erroneous fees alone, while only making about $1,000 in total for the week.

While working to help his mother work through those challenges, Hernandez started getting requests from other Latino restaurant owners in the community.

“All of a sudden, I kept getting calls and I think in a matter of like 30 days, I ended up getting 20 restaurants that needed this help,” said Hernandez.

After getting overwhelmed with having to do all the various tasks on his own, Hernandez began to form a team of individuals with strengths in different areas who could help him provide the necessary help to the restaurant owners.

“I managed to get a couple other people to help me build a software so that we could … manage everything from a consolidated dashboard,” he said.

“That made it a lot easier to be able to onboard restaurants onto our software and then pull and send data over these platforms, so that we can manage their restaurants and configure them in a way that would make them not lose money,” Hernandez added.

Click here to read the full article on Al Dia.

3 Ways to Successfully Brand Your Business
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woman tying on computer with the word brand and other business symbols surrounding the image

By Kat Castagnoli

While starting a minority-owned business has its share of challenges, the opportunities to grow are enormous. Statistics show that by 2044, more than half of all Americans are projected to belong to a minority group.

Founders of color and/or minority founders bring a unique perspective to their ventures that sets them apart – helping them to not only create a strong brand identity, but a highly successful and thriving business.

Below are 3 tips to help you brand your business when you’re just starting out:

A Brand is More Than Your Name

Your company’s brand is defined by its business name, logo or symbol, design, brand voice and literally everything visual about the company.

These visual elements are what form your brand identity — what you, customers and prospects can see.

But a brand is more than its brand identity.

A brand also includes your company’s reputation, values, the way your products and services are advertised, as well as the experiences your customers, social media followers and prospects have with your company.

In fact, every decision your company makes, and every action that it takes, affects the brand.

Leaving your brand identity to chance will hurt you and your business. You must be proactive in creating a memorable brand and brand identity.

The goal of branding is to tell a company’s story in a way that creates loyalty, awareness and excitement. Those who created brands like Harpo, FUBU and Zumba Fitness understood the importance of building a strong brand when they started their ventures. You can do the same.

Create Your Own Brand Strategy

On a blank sheet of paper, fully define your company’s vision, mission and values. Once you’ve done that, articulate your brand positioning, which explains how your company is different in this marketplace and from your competitors.

Brand positioning will be crucial when you write a business plan. Lenders and investors will want to understand how you will differentiate and why those differences will help you succeed.

It’s not unusual for minority business owners and founders of color to observe different problems or to offer different solutions than business owners from other groups. This is what allows you to bring innovative products and services designed for everyone or pick a segment of your target market and create products or services specifically for them.

Once you understand brand positioning, you must articulate your unique selling proposition, or USP – essentially what your business stands for. For minority founders and founders of color, the USP can focus on a smaller group’s specific needs within a larger market or on the unique innovations your products bring to the broader market.

Once you have defined this, it’s now time to create your core brand identity assets. You’ll need to work with an expert to create a good business name for your new business, a unique logo design, a business website and other visual elements that will reflect your brand.

Execute your brand strategy

After you’ve developed your core identity, you need to find the right way to communicate your brand through marketing.

Execution is crucial – and here, too, is where founders of color and minority entrepreneurs can face numerous obstacles and a scaling gap.

For example, only 19 percent of Black-owned businesses and 20 percent of Hispanic-owned businesses grow to 10 or more employees, compared to 25 percent of companies owned by founders from other groups.

A good example of brand strategy execution is Rihanna’s Fenty brand, which offered substantially more shades of foundation and other products that include all skin tones, targeting women of all ethnicities and body types.

Before Fenty, most beauty brands focused on only a segment of the beauty market. Few brands, for example, offered shades of foundation for all skin tones. But after Fenty’s successful launch (in 17 countries on the same day), other beauty brands had to quickly reflect on the lack of diversity in their products and marketing.

While not everyone is a global music superstar like Rihanna, you don’t need to be one to differentiate your business.

Inclusivity, and not merely celebrity, was Fenty’s unique selling proposition.

What’s your unique selling proposition? Carefully consider to create a brand strategy that sets you apart from the rest, connects with your customers and puts your business on the path to success.

J Balvin Teams Up With UPS to Support Small Businesses: ‘I Know What It’s Like to Start From Scratch’
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J Balvin has partnered with UPS to support Latinx-owned small businesses and entrepreneurs amid the pandemic.

By , Billboard

The COVID-19 outbreak greatly impacted small businesses around the world, including in the Latinx community. As things slowly but surely return to normal, J Balvin has partnered with UPS to support Latinx-owned small businesses and entrepreneurs amid the pandemic.

“My early days in music felt very comparable to getting a small business off the ground so I know what it means to start from scratch and chase your dreams,” he tells Billboard.

The partnership, part of UPS’ Proudly Unstoppable campaign, counts with an exclusive song and video at the helm of Balvin called “Juntos Imparables,” which he hopes will “inspire people to work together and support their local businesses.”

In support, Balvin and UPS teamed up with TikTok to get their message across via a social media challenge that will encourage “entrepreneurs and small businesses to get more exposure, and business,” Balvin expresses, ultimately helping fuel these businesses’ growth.

In addition to Balvin’s new campaign song and video, UPS launched a bilingual limited edition box series (650,000 UPS medium-sized Express boxes and envelopes) called “Challenges Are Our Fire,” by Mexican graphic designer and illustrator, Luis Pinto. UPS is also committed to donating $150,000 to the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) so that the small businesses impacted by the pandemic receive the direct financial support needed.

Click here to read the full article on Billboard.

Colorado gets first Latina state historian
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Nicki Gonzales will begin her one-year term as the official state historian.

Douglas County Press

Colorado State Historian is a position that has been around for almost 100 years, dating back to 1924.

On Aug. 1 — also known as Colorado Day, celebrating the date when the state joined the Union — Nicki Gonzales will begin her one-year term as the official state historian.

Nearly 22% of Coloradans are Hispanic or Latino, and despite the state historian position being around for nearly a century, Gonzales is the first Latino person to be named state historian.

Gonzales is a professor of history and vice provost for diversity and inclusion at Regis University. A mother of two sons, Gonzales is based in Denver, but her family has “deep roots” in Southern Colorado and northern New Mexico, according to History Colorado.

Gonzales also part of History Colorado’s State Historian’s Council, which the state historian leads.

“History is one of the most effective ways we can understand ourselves and our present moment,” Gonzales said in a statement. “I’d like to see more unrecognized stories shared publicly so we can arrive at a truer sense of where we’ve been and who we are.”

History Colorado said Gonzales is interested in researching Southern Colorado’s land grant movements as well as the experiences of Chicano Vietnam Veterans. She also served as an advisor for the History Colorado exhibit “El Movimiento: The Chicano Movement in Colorado.”

“Gonzales’ historical expertise focuses on Chicano history and Southwest social and political movements,” History Colorado wrote in a statement. “She plans to incorporate youth in the exploration of Colorado’s past during her term as state historian, and to support more inclusive practices of historical inquiry.

“In doing so, Gonzales is eager to raise more awareness about historical events with significant contemporary legacies, such as the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864, about which History Colorado is currently collaborating with tribal partners to present a long-term exhibition,” the organization’s statement added.

Click here to read the full article on Douglas County Press.

These Latino-owned businesses survived the pandemic. Here’s how they adapted
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Kulture co-owners Cuahutemoc Vargas and David Garcia, photographed on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020, share how they've adapted to keep their business in midtown Sacramento open during the coronavirus pandemic.

BY Kim Bojorquez, The Sacramento Bee

The week California ordered the closures of businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic in March of 2020, Maria Palacio, co-founder of Progeny Coffee, lost 97% of her revenue.

Prior to the pandemic, her biggest moneymaker was selling Colombian coffee beans to the offices of Google and Facebook. For months she lay awake at night worrying about the fate of her coffee company and how closing her business would impact the farmers in Colombia who grew her beans.

But after more than a year of facing dipping sales and uncertainty spurred by the COVID-19 health crisis, her Palo Alto business persevered.

The pandemic “transformed us completely,” she said. “It pushed us to open new sales channels.”

Amid the coronavirus crisis, Latino-owned businesses, the fastest-growing U.S. business population, were more likely to report having less cash on hand. They said their Paycheck Protection Program applications were denied at higher rates than those of white-owned businesses, according to a 2020 study by the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative.

Now, as California reopens and COVID cases across the state wane, Latino business owners like Palacio are hopeful their businesses can come out of the pandemic even stronger than before.

For many Latino business owners, according to Cathy Rodriguez, CEO and president of the Sacramento Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the pandemic reiterated the importance of having a sound business plan and organized paperwork in case of an emergency.

“They’re like, ‘We realized we needed to be better prepared,’ which is a positive thing,” she said.

About 1 in 4 California businesses are owned by Latinos, Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a gala organized by the Latino Community Foundation in June.

“It’s why we need each and every one of you to come back stronger, because when Latinos succeed our state truly does flourish,” he said.

Click here to read the full article on The Sacramento Bee.

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