Jennifer Lopez Wants to Give Latina Entrepreneurs the Capital Boost They Need

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Jennifer Lopez Wants to Give Latina Entrepreneurs the Capital Boost They Need

By  Yamily Habib, Be Latina

We have often talked about the economic strength of the Latino community — especially Latinas. We are not only one of the fastest-growing ethnic groups but also the ones who have jump-started the nation’s economy before and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, one of the biggest obstacles for entrepreneurs and business owners is access to resources and start-up capital.

This reality is so evident that big names like Jennifer Lopez have stepped up to the plate to address it.

The singer announced that she has joined forces with microfinance organization Grameen America to give Latina entrepreneurs the capital boost they need, adding up to $14 billion in capital.

As reported by Forbes, Jennifer Lopez announced Thursday that, as a national ambassador for Grameen, she will help mentor the organization’s network of more than 150,000 women-led small businesses in Latino communities across the country.

Together with Grameen, a nonprofit that provides access to capital, credit building, and financial education, Lopez will reinvigorate her philanthropic project, Limitless Labs, to provide 600,000 Latina entrepreneurs with $14 billion in loan capital and 6 million hours of financial education by 2030.

By joining Grameen’s microloan program, Jennifer Lopez will “motivate, promote, and inspire” Latina business owners and educate them on credit and asset-building to help them “understand the pathway to financial independence and literacy,” according to Grameen.

The partnership will build “pathways to employment and leadership opportunities” to harness the “strength” of the Latinx community, Lopez said in a statement.

“Being Latino in this country has always been a matter of pride for me. I am humbled and beyond grateful to partner with Grameen America. We’re building pathways to employment and leadership opportunities. There’s so much strength in this community, and we’re harnessing that. This partnership will create equality, inclusivity, and opportunity for Latina women in business,” she added.

She also told Inc. that her mother did not go to college because she did not have that access, but through this new partnership, Jennifer Lopez hopes to create a more equitable and inclusive landscape.

Click here to read the full article on Be Latina.

A Latina-owned business offers healthier food options on Chicago’s West Side
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A Latina owned business, MCM Protein Bar, will be opening its doors to the public this weekend. Healthier food options

By Yukare Nakayama, ABC

CHICAGO, Ill. — A Latina family-owned business, MCM Protein Bar, will be opening its doors to the public this weekend. It offers healthier food options in the city’s Pilsen neighborhood on the West Side, all with a fun Mexican twist!

Owners Monica Aranda, Arasele Calvo, and Marlen Villordo said it took them a year to open their dream business. They all have a background in nutrition.

“I feel like were going to be able to provide something different in this community,” said owner Monica Aranda.

MCM Protein Bar offers healthy and tasty food and drinks, such as their take on the michelada. Instead of alcohol, the michelada is made up of energizing vitamins and seltzer water.

The owners said all their meals are high in protein, offering over five different flavors of protein powder.

Aranda said once they start making profits, they’d like to give back to the community by creating a scholarship program for DACA students.

MCM Protein Bar will open its doors this weekend July 17!

Click here to read the full article on ABC.

How One Skincare Company Is Reclaiming The Clean Beauty Of Their Latina Ancestors
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VAMIGAS is a clean skin care, hair care and beauty brand created by Latinas using botanicals from Latin America. VAMIGAS

By Jennifer “Jay” Palumbo, Forbes

Multiple academic studies have found that Latinas have more hormone-disrupting chemicals in their bodies than white women. Researchers say this may be due to Latinas outspending other groups in beauty purchases by 30%. They also have higher infertility rates, breast cancer, and U.S.-born Latinas are three times more likely to experience preterm birth than their foreign-born counterparts.

According to a Nielsen report from 2013, Hispanic women are a key growth engine of the U.S. female population. They are estimated to become 30% of the total female population by 2060, while the white female population will drop to 43%. The report also predicts that by 2060, there will be no single dominant ethnic group. Instead, the female (and total) population will comprise a diverse ethnic plurality where Latinas play a sizable role.

Despite these projections, skincare brands targeting Latinas tend to hide problematic chemicals like phthalates, parabens, phenols, and preservatives in their products, often in fragrances. However, excellent products are costly and largely avoid marketing to Latinas or market them incorrectly, treating them as an afterthought or homogeneous.

Christina Kelmon, one of the few Latina investors in Silicon Valley and CEO of the makeup brand Belle en Argent, has created a skincare brand, Vamigas, that aims to reclaim the clean beauty ingredients of her ancestors. It is fragrance-free, affordable, and knows how to speak to the modern Latinx Woman.

“I read these studies when I was pregnant with my daughter, and I tried to be very mindful of what I put into my body, but it was hard, almost impossible, to find products that were clean and affordable and that spoke to me,” Kelmon shared. “This is why I created a makeup brand and a wellness and skincare brand that speaks directly to the Latinx community.”

Multiple academic studies have found that Latinas have more hormone-disrupting chemicals in their bodies than white women. Researchers say this may be due to Latinas outspending other groups in beauty purchases by 30%. They also have higher infertility rates, breast cancer, and U.S.-born Latinas are three times more likely to experience preterm birth than their foreign-born counterparts.

According to a Nielsen report from 2013, Hispanic women are a key growth engine of the U.S. female population. They are estimated to become 30% of the total female population by 2060, while the white female population will drop to 43%. The report also predicts that by 2060, there will be no single dominant ethnic group. Instead, the female (and total) population will comprise a diverse ethnic plurality where Latinas play a sizable role.

Despite these projections, skincare brands targeting Latinas tend to hide problematic chemicals like phthalates, parabens, phenols, and preservatives in their products, often in fragrances. However, excellent products are costly and largely avoid marketing to Latinas or market them incorrectly, treating them as an afterthought or homogeneous.

Christina Kelmon, one of the few Latina investors in Silicon Valley and CEO of the makeup brand Belle en Argent, has created a skincare brand, Vamigas, that aims to reclaim the clean beauty ingredients of her ancestors. It is fragrance-free, affordable, and knows how to speak to the modern Latinx Woman.

“I read these studies when I was pregnant with my daughter, and I tried to be very mindful of what I put into my body, but it was hard, almost impossible, to find products that were clean and affordable and that spoke to me,” Kelmon shared. “This is why I created a makeup brand and a wellness and skincare brand that speaks directly to the Latinx community.”

Kelmon, a 4th generation Mexican-American, and cofounder Ann Dunning, from Chile, discovered Latinas and infertility issues and the paraben-fragrance connection. As a result, they have created a line of skincare serums with clean, organic ingredients like Yerba Mate, Maracuja, Rosa Mosqueta, Prickly Pear, and Chia from Chile, Mexico Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, and more.

“We want to be the leading clean beauty and skincare brand focused on Latinas in the industry,” said Kelmon. “A wellness brand that Latinas feel connected to, that speaks our language, understands where they come from, and doesn’t use old, tired stereotypes that don’t apply to us anymore.”

Click here to read the full article on Forbes.

Meet The Young Latina Immigrant Behind Boston’s First Zero-Waste Store
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Latina Immigrant opens first zero waste store

By The Bay State Banner

In a sunny storefront not far from the Boston Harbor, Maria Vasco lingers off to the side of the cash register, smiling but nervous, as she watches one of her first two employees ring up a customer. For over a year, Vasco was the only employee — the founder and CEO — of Uvida, Boston’s first and only zero-waste shop.

The name comes from the Spanish word “vida” meaning “life.” Vasco said she tells customers “you give life” by shopping plastic-free and reducing waste. Uvida offers a variety of home-goods essentials in plastic-free packaging, from deodorant and lip balm in cardboard tubes to tissues and toilet paper made from recycled materials.

“The business is just myself, which in the beginning was great. But it started getting isolated, getting to be too much on my plate. Right now is my first time having employees,” Vasco told Zenger News.

The storefront opened last December during the pandemic, but Vasco launched the business as an online shop in 2019, while still a full-time student at University of Massachusetts-Boston.

“I worked part-time at restaurants and internships just to make ends meet. Then at nighttime, I would stay up until four in the morning doing market research, looking at products, making my website,” Vasco said. “And it was like the best time of my life. I just was having so much fun doing it, that it didn’t matter how much I had on my plate. I always made time for that.”

Vasco started advocating for environmental issues in high school while competing with the debate team. That’s where she first came across the statistic that in 2050 the ocean will have more plastic than fish.

“I never thought the spark I felt was based on the things I was advocating for, I thought it was because I was debating,” Vasco said.

When it came time for college, Vasco, who was born in Cali, Colombia, and moved to East Boston at age 4, chose to attend UMass-Boston for its diversity and affordability. She was undocumented until her junior year of college, making her ineligible for federal financial aid. (Massachusetts allows undocumented students to pay in-state tuition.) Vasco’s debate coach suggested she pursue a degree in political science.

“By the first semester, I was like ‘no way, I cannot do this.’ It just wasn’t my spark.”

While looking for a class to fulfill a science requirement, Vasco landed on environmental science and quickly fell in love with it. After switching her major, she started talking to her professors outside of class, learning about their specific areas of research and expertise. Through those conversations, Vasco decided she wanted to focus on plastic pollution.

“This is something I can control, because I touch plastic every day,” Vasco remembers.

It was during her freshman year of college that Vasco started trying out plastic-free products. There were some she loved, and some she didn’t, but purchasing any of them required a lot of online research. When she did settle on a product she liked, she would have to remember the website in order to restock. She wanted a curation of products she liked all in one place, and that sparked her idea for Uvida.

“I am my own ideal customer,” Vasco said. “I also need to shop plastic-free. I use all these products myself. So I realized that if I don’t have this store, even in my own city, and I have to be the one that does it, then I will.”

Click here to read the full article on The Bay State Banner.

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.

10 Essential Sites for Hispanic Business Owners
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young Hispanic businessperson scrolling through phone and smiling

By Maria Valdez Haubrich

Hispanic small business owners are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the US.

The number of Hispanic business owners grew 34% over the past 10 years as compared to 1% for all U.S. business owners, according to a recent study from Stanford University.

The following are 10 resources that advance, promote, support, and help Hispanic businesses to grow and thrive.

 

  1. United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC)

The mission of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is “To foster Hispanic economic development and to create sustainable prosperity for the benefit of American society.” The USHCC promotes the economic growth, development, and interests of Hispanic-owned businesses. It also advocates on behalf of 260 major American corporations and serves as the umbrella organization for more than 250 local chambers and business associations nationwide. Twitter: @USHCC

  1. The Hispanic Retail Chamber of Commerce (HRCOC)

The Hispanic Retail Chamber of Commerce represents U.S. Hispanic retail businesses and their interests and priorities to the government and in the media. With Accredited Alliances in every state, the HRCOC serves members of every size and in many retail sectors, such as supermarkets and food & beverage distributors. Various membership plans are available. Twitter: @RetailChamber

  1. Hispanic Association of Small Businesses (H.A.S.B.)

The Hispanic Association of Small Business provides minority business owners, and aspiring business owners, with educational materials, business workshops, and English workshops to improve the success of the community. By advocating on behalf of individuals, small businesses, and entrepreneurs, the H.A.S.B. works to eliminate prejudice and discrimination against socially disadvantaged or underprivileged small businesses. Facebook: @hasb.org

  1. Hispanic Small Business Center from Hello Alice

The Hispanic Small Business Center is a microsite of Hello Alice, a free, multichannel platform that helps businesses launch and grow. Cofounded by Carolyn Rodz and Elizabeth Gore, Hello Alice encompasses a community of more than 200,000 business owners in all 50 states and across the globe. The Hispanic Small Business Center partners with enterprise business services, government agencies, and institutions to help grow small and medium-sized businesses. The website provides resources, how-to guides, and research. Twitter: @HelloAlice

  1. Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA)

Part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Minority Business Development Agency promotes the growth of minority-owned businesses and helps Hispanic business owners access and connect with capital, contracts, and markets. The MBDA also advocates and promotes minority-owned business with elected officials, policymakers, and business leaders. Twitter: @USMBDA

  1. National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC)

The National Minority Supplier Development Council advances business opportunities for certified minority business enterprises and connects them to corporate members to encourage supplier diversity. You apply for NMSDC certification through one of its regional councils. The organization connects more than 12,000 certified minority-owned businesses to a network of corporate members who wish to purchase their products, services, and solutions. The NMSDC corporate membership includes many public and privately-owned companies, as well as healthcare companies, colleges, and universities. Twitter: @NMSDCHQ

  1. Grants.gov

Grants.gov is an e-government initiative operating under the Office of Management and Budget. The system contains information on more than 1,000 federal grant programs and vets grant applications for federal agencies. By registering with the website, Hispanic and other business owners can apply for any grants available, as long as the company meets the requirements of the grant. To apply you will need a DUNS Number, which is a unique nine-character identification number provided by the commercial company Dun & Bradstreet (D&B). Twitter: @grantsdotgov

  1. Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR)

The Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility’s mission is to advance the inclusion of Hispanics in corporate America at a level proportionate with Hispanic economic contributions in the areas of employment, procurement, philanthropy, and governance. With helpful programs, research, and virtual seminars, the HACR is committed to making a difference in the way Hispanics are treated and perceived in Corporate America. Twitter: @HACRORG

  1. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC)

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus is a Congressional Member organization, governed by the Rules of the U.S. House of Representatives. The CHC addresses national and international issues and crafts policies that impact the Hispanic community. The Caucus is dedicated to voicing and advancing, through the legislative process, issues affecting Hispanics in the United States, Puerto Rico, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Twitter: @HispanicCaucus

  1. League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)

Founded in 1929, the League of United Latin American Citizens is the largest and oldest Hispanic organization in the U.S. LULAC strives to improve the economic condition, education, political influence, housing, health and civil rights of Hispanic Americans through community-based programs. With more than 1,000 councils nationwide, the organization’s advisory board consists of Fortune 500 companies, which fosters stronger partnerships between corporate America and the Hispanic community. Twitter: @LULAC

Source: score.org

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.

This 31-year-old quit her $150,000-a-year tech job to start an equal pay app: Here’s how she got started
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Christen Nino De Guzman, founder of Clara for CreatorsPhoto: Christen Nino De Guzman

By Christen Nino De Guzman, CNBC

I’ve always enjoyed working with content creators. At 31, I’ve helped launch creator programs at some of the biggest tech companies, including Instagram and Pinterest.

But it was frustrating to see the pay inequality that content creators constantly faced. So earlier this year, I decided to quit my $150,000-per-year job at TikTok to start a “Glassdoor-like” app called Clara for Creators.

Since launching, it has helped more than 7,000 influencers and content creators share and compare pay rates and review their experiences working with brands.

The pay gap in influencer marketing

Nowadays, there are very few barriers to becoming a content creator. With the popularity of TikTok, for example, you don’t need to invest hundreds or thousands of dollars in equipment; anyone can try to build an audience and monetize their platform with videos they shoot on a smartphone.

As a result, more and more creators have entered the business. The problem? They have little knowledge about how much money they could — or should — be making.

Content creator deals are tricky. How much you’re paid depends on the type of content you’re offering a brand and on what platform — an Instagram post versus a YouTube video, for example. Other factors include the size of your following, engagement metrics and success rates with previous partnerships.

To make matters even more complicated, brands often ask an influencer for their rate instead of offering everyone a base pay with room to negotiate.

Many creators end up selling themselves short, especially women and people of color. I once saw a man get paid 10 times what a woman creator was paid for the same campaign — just because he asked for more. I’ve also seen Latinx creators with triple the following of white creators be paid half as much.

How I started my mission-based business

I knew a major problem that creators faced was that they couldn’t Google how much money they could charge for marketing a product or service on their platform. That lightbulb moment — and how much I cared about the creators I worked with — inspired me to build Clara.

I wanted creators to be able to share reviews of brands they had worked with, along with how much they were paid for different types of content based on their number of followers.

In March 2021, I sent a bunch of cold messages to potential investors on LinkedIn. In July, after weeks of non-stop outreach that turned into more than 10 pitch meetings, I received a small investment from an individual investor. I used that money to contract a team of developers, who I worked alongside to build and test the app.

Clara finally launched for iOS in January this year. Within a month, without spending any money on advertisements, more than 7,000 creators signed up to share their rates on Clara, including top TikTok creators like Devon Rodriguez and Nancy Bullard, who each have 24.4 million and 2.9 million social media followers, respectively.

On January 14, I quit my job at TikTok as a creator program manager to work on Clara full-time. While I am taking a massive pay cut by leaving my 9-to-5, I’m living off money I make as a content creator and my savings.

Right now, I’m focused on raising capital to grow the platform. I’m also spreading the word about equal pay and how important resources like Clara are. l post career advice and other resources on my TikTok account, where I currently have 348,000 followers.

Get paid fairly: Know your rights and do your research

There are many things you can do to work towards greater pay equity for yourself and others in your industry.

When discussing pay with your coworkers, it’s important to know your rights. Some corporations may try to scare you from it by saying that salary talk is against company policy. But under the National Labor Relations Act, many employees have the right to talk about their wages with their coworkers.

I’ve had six full-time jobs, and fear used to keep me from talking about money. But the first time I openly discussed my salary with a colleague, I found out I was being underpaid. I then used that knowledge to look for new roles where I’d be paid more fairly.

These conversations don’t have to be awkward, especially if you’ve established a safe and comfortable relationship. Rather than flat-out asking “How much are you making?,” approach the discussion in a “let’s help each other” way. You might be surprised by the number of people who are willing to talk about it.

Keep in mind that while you have the right to communicate about your wages, your employer may have lawful policies against using their equipment — like work laptops — to have the discussion. Protect yourself by understanding your company’s policy before sending a rallying Slack message.

And always do your research before accepting a contract. Sites like Glassdoor, Levels and Clara offer this data for free.

You can also search sites like TikTok and YouTube to get deep insights about pay. There are many creators who, like me, are open about what they’ve been paid at previous companies — down to stock offerings and sign-on bonuses, and who share information about company cultures overall.

I also created a spreadsheet for people to share their titles and salaries alongside important demographic information I’ve seen left out on other databases, like gender, age and diverse identity fields. So far, it has over 62,000 entries.

Click here to read the full article on CNBC.

How Latinas can navigate the tech industry
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employees in the tech industry seated at a meeting table with woman pointing to whiteboard

By Eliot Olaya, Al Dia

Prospanica’s Philadelphia chapter held a panel about Latinas in tech, hosting three Latina women who have had years of experience within the industry.

The webinar hosted Edith Perez, the Senior Technical Product Manager at Comcast; Sól Vázquez, CISA and Senior IT Audit Manager at CVS Health; Shannon Morales, CEO and founder of Tribaja, a diversity focused tech recruitment agency; and was moderated by Carrie Ann Zayas Quintana, Enterprise Innovation, Manager of External Partnerships at PNC. Prospanica, an organization that hosts annual career and professional development seminars and aids Hispanics in networking, hosted the four of them to discuss their experiences, careers, and insights they could offer Latina’s entering the tech industry.

For some of these women, they didn’t start their careers in technology. For Vázquez, she began college pursuing a degree in accounting. But when she took an auditing course, she realized it suited her much better and changed her major. In a similar vein, Morales completed her degree in Finance before she moved into the tech sector.

For Morales, a background in Finance was not a barrier to overcome as she entered the tech industry. As she sought to boost other Hispanics’ networking opportunities, she sought to found her own company. With experience in business and financial matters, she was able to use her skills to create her company, Tribaja.

Click here to read the article on Al Dia.

Jennifer Lopez & Partners Pledge $14 Billion in Capital to Latina Entrepreneurs
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Jennifer Lopez posing at Spirit awards

Global icon Jennifer Lopez and Grameen America, the nation’s fastest-growing microfinance organization, announce they are partnering to advance financial empowerment for Latina businesswomen historically excluded from the financial mainstream.

Grameen America provides access to business capital, credit- and asset-building, financial education and peer support to enable women living below the federal poverty level to boost their income and create jobs in their communities. The new partnership seeks to advance both Lopez’s latest philanthropic project, Limitless Labs, which aims to support Latina-owned small businesses, as well as Grameen America’s goal to empower 600,000 Latina entrepreneurs across 50 U.S. cities with $14 billion in life-changing business capital and 6 million hours of financial education and training by 2030.

Lopez joins as Grameen America’s National Ambassador to advocate for and mentor the organization’s network of over 150,000 small businesses run by women in predominantly Latinx communities across the United States. Limitless Labs, the home for all of Lopez’s philanthropic and values-driven work, aims to uplift, educate and provide essential resources to underserved communities like the one in The Bronx where Lopez grew up. Additional areas of focus include youth empowerment, civic engagement and empowering women with the confidence to live limitlessly.

Grameen America envisions an inclusive society in which all entrepreneurs, regardless of gender, race or income, have access to fair and affordable financial services to support upward economic mobility. The organization provides ongoing financial education to members and reports microloan repayments to credit bureaus to enable participants to build their financial identities. Since its founding in 2008, Grameen America has served over 150,000 women in 23 U.S. cities, distributed $2.6 billion in loans and helped create and maintain 157,000 jobs. The organization’s repayment rate is over 99 percent, and its members have achieved an average credit score of 644 through participation in the program.

To kick off her role as National Ambassador, Lopez will motivate, promote and inspire Latina businesswomen, helping them understand the pathway to financial independence and literacy through joining the Grameen America microloan program. Lopez will mentor the organization’s existing Latina business owners, educating them on the importance of credit and asset-building and developing a savings program to promote financial resilience. The partnership will also enhance Grameen America’s financial education and training platform, prioritizing digital and multimedia resources to promote financial literacy.

“Being Latino in this country has always been a matter of pride for me. I am humbled and beyond grateful to partner with Grameen America,” said Jennifer Lopez. “We’re building pathways to employment and leadership opportunities. There’s so much strength in this community and we’re harnessing that. This partnership will create equality, inclusivity and opportunity for Latina women in business. This will change the fabric of America!”

“Jennifer Lopez is a trailblazer, having given visibility and advocacy to ensure Latina women are educated, financially empowered and healthy,” said Andrea Jung, president and CEO of Grameen America. “Grameen America is the only organization with the national scale, reach and proven model required to deploy $14 billion in loan capital to emerging businesswomen in Latinx communities. Together we will shape entrepreneurship as a viable pathway to success for Latina women who have historically lacked access to the formal financial markets and are often marginalized from economic opportunity.”

Despite gaps in opportunity, Latina entrepreneurs represent the fastest-growing, yet untapped, segment of U.S. small business owners. In the past 10 years, the number of Latino-owned small businesses has grown 44 percent compared to just four percent for non-Latinos, according to a recent report by the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative. The same report notes Latino-owned businesses are significantly less likely than white-owned businesses to receive loans from national banks, despite demonstrating strong lending criteria. For women, financial exclusion is disproportionately higher as only four percent of all small business loans from mainstream financial institutions go to women, according to a report by the National Women’s Business Council.

“Asking for a loan from a bank is not as easy as people think, and even more challenging for businesswomen in my community,” said Maria Lugo, Grameen America member and owner of Who’s Papi? Tires by Papi, an auto-repair and tire shop located in Woodside, Queens. Lugo joined Grameen America in 2011 to revitalize her family’s struggling business. Today, Lugo’s thriving business has expanded in its size, services and staff to meet growing demand. Most importantly, Lugo’s savings allowed her to send her three children to college. “The road to business success is not always easy to navigate, but with hard work and access to financial services, education and mentorship, it’s possible to achieve your vision,” said Lugo. “Surround yourself with people who are going to lift you higher.”

Source: Grameen America

These Afro-Latina Creatives Carved Out Their Own Career — & Found Success
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These Afro-Latina Creatives Carved Out Their Own Career — & Found Success

By Hilary Shepherd, Refinery 29

Honoring long-held traditions while looking toward the future might be a popular practice around the holiday season, but for some, it’s a year-round business. Just ask 28-year-old digital creator Julianny Casado and 26-year-old makeup artist Sabré O’Neil. As Afro-Latinas (Casado is a first-generation American of Dominican origin; O’Neil is a second-generation American of Puerto Rican descent), the two creatives feel strongly about regularly celebrating their roots not only through their work, but through their own appearances and unique senses of style, as well.

Both Casado and O’Neil say that the journey in accepting their identities wasn’t always an easy one. “Growing up as an Afro-Latina, it was really hard to find my crowd,” O’Neil says. “I didn’t know if I was going to hang with the Hispanic people or the other crowds, so I was always by myself.” By continuing to push forward and make space for themselves in two fields that have historically lacked diversity, they’re helping to make way for opportunities for the next generation of creatives within their respective communities. In partnership with , the sneaker brand that’s been embracing both tradition and innovation through fun twists on the timeless Chuck style for more than 100 years, we asked Casado and O’Neil to share how they discovered their passions, the ways in which their identities influence their work, and how they redefine classic Converse silhouettes in 2021. Read their stories, below.

Julianny Casado, Digital Creator

I discovered my passion… “When I was 16 years old. I’ve always been obsessed with cameras, but my cousin had this really cool DSLR camera, and it really changed the way I felt about photos and how you could tell stories. I wanted to work for National Geographic and do crazy documentative stories. It took off from there. After that, I was always obsessed with photo formats and anything visual. Everything else — like curation and art direction — just grew. I learned from my mistakes and experience.”

My own unique aesthetic is… “Very candid and life-like. I like things to be as organic as possible. Very vibrant, too. I’m obsessed with color — it brings a certain character to the story that I’m telling. I work with the plus-size community and it’s been an experience that I’m so honored to be a part of. There are so many people who aren’t being celebrated, but they should be because they’re athletes and champions in their own right. They go out every day and smash whatever it is that they do. I love giving voices to people who feel like they don’t have one.”

How my identity as an Afro-Latina shapes my work: “I’m from New York City, but my family is from the Dominican Republic. I also have a huge lineage of Afro-descendants, and I love it. It influences everything that I do. I don’t take anything for granted because I know where I come from. I know what my ancestors have been through, and I know I have better opportunities just for being here today. I’ve watched my family turn bread into gold. I’ve seen them work hard at everything that they do, and it’s taught me that it’s the little details that people might not speak about or see right away. That’s definitely something I like to highlight and photograph — the things that aren’t completely obvious or aren’t typically socially accepted as beautiful. I think those are the best parts of life.”

I struggled with my identity… “As I grew up. I’m a first-generation American, so I didn’t have the Dominican roots that my older siblings had. I felt like there was a huge dissociation, but now as an adult, I’m really enjoying learning what those who came before me have done and how important it is to keep our culture and our traditions going. They are the things that make us, and if you don’t practice them, you lose them and you become like everyone else.”

To be Afro-Latina in America today is about… “Digging deeper into your identity. It’s a blessing. We have to stand together because there are so many people who want to deny where we come from. They want us to fit into what the rest of the world’s narrative is. Honestly, I’m so proud to be Afro-Latina and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Not my hair, not my skin, not my experiences.”

My first memory of Converse sneakers… “Was when I was 12. My first pair was white and they were low-tops. I love Converse — they’re my favorite sneakers. They were the coolest shoes growing up. They were so simple, comfortable, and affordable.”

I would redefine classic Converse silhouettes… “By adding a color-blocking pattern to a pair. Color is my safe zone and it makes me feel closest to my identity. I would choose pastel colors because they remind me of my island.”

Click here to read the full article on Refinery 29.

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