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.

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.

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

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

SIA Scotch Whisky to Support Entrepreneurs of Color in the Food, Beverage and Hospitality Industry with the Return of the Entrepreneurial Spirit Fund
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SIA Scotch Whisky founder holding a bottle

By Yahoo! Finance

SIA Scotch Whisky, an award-winning spirits brand founded by first-generation Hispanic entrepreneur Carin Luna-Ostaseski, is bringing back The Entrepreneurial Spirit Fund by SIA Scotch for the second consecutive year. The groundbreaking initiative provides entrepreneurs of color with access to the capital and mentorship that will help them take action, build stronger companies and have a positive impact on their communities.

This year, the grant program will focus on growing businesses specifically within the brand’s own world – the food, beverage, and hospitality sector [1]. This space has been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, and its small business owners continue to face massive barriers, such as adapting to consumers’ ever-evolving preferences and spending behaviors, adjusting to increased at-home demand, and facing supply chain disruptions. As a brand built from the ground up, SIA Scotch Whisky truly understands the importance of supporting these often-overlooked small business owners along their entrepreneurial journeys.

“As an entrepreneur from a historically underrepresented and underserved community, gaining access to funding and mentorship during my startup journey was always an uphill battle,” said founder Luna-Ostaseski. “The food, beverage and hospitality space is very competitive, and I know from firsthand experience how game-changing support can be. SIA Scotch Whisky was born out of my perseverance and passion, and to this day our purpose is to inspire other entrepreneurs of color to achieve the unexpected – just like I did. I am so proud of The Entrepreneurial Spirit Fund and its continued commitment to paying it forward.”

However, success is not easy to come by. Entrepreneurs of color tend to face more obstacles when it comes to raising capital and are far more likely to get shut out of financing completely. Despite approximately 18.7% of all U.S. businesses being minority-owned [2], representing over 50% of new businesses started and creating 4.7 million new jobs, this group is still largely excluded in funding – receiving only a 2% share of venture capital annually over the last decade [3].

The Entrepreneurial Spirit Fund by SIA Scotch is inspired by Carin Luna-Ostaseski’s entrepreneurial journey and launches in partnership with Hello Alice, a free online platform that connects its community of nearly one million small business owners with the capital, tools and education they need to grow their businesses.

“Entrepreneurs of color are an economic force in the U.S and recognizing their impact in our communities is of great importance,” said Elizabeth Gore, co-founder and President, Hello Alice. “In our most recent survey, 89% of small business owners claim access to capital is limiting their business growth potential. Along with our partner SIA Scotch Whisky, we are excited to continue this groundbreaking grant program to help support this underserved community and provide the resources, tools and additional exposure that these businesses need to succeed.”

The Entrepreneurial Spirit Fund by SIA Scotch will award $10,000 grants to 11 qualifying entrepreneurs who self-identify as people of color, for a total of $110,000. To apply, visit https://hialice.co/siascotchfund now through Sept. 26, 2022. To be eligible, business owners must be 25 years of age or older (as of November 1, 2022) and a legal U.S. resident. Businesses must be owned 51%+ by person(s) of color, a for-profit business producing less than $5M in annual gross revenue, not be an alcohol beverage wholesale or retail license holder or a business which makes/distributes/imports alcohol, and must operate and/or conduct business in at least one of the following states: CA, CO, CT, FL, GA, IL, MA, MN, NJ, NV, NY, RI and/or TX. For complete eligibility criteria and important restrictions, visit the application site and terms & conditions. The final grant recipients will be announced on Nov. 1, 2022, kicking off National Entrepreneur Month.

The Entrepreneurial Spirit Fund is a continuation of SIA Scotch Whisky’s nearly decade-long commitment to donating a portion of sales to organizations that help support underrepresented entrepreneurs – the dreamers, movers and shakers who are shaping the future. When getting into the entrepreneurial spirit or when sipping on actual spirits, SIA encourages consumers of legal drinking age to drink responsibly.

Click here to read the full article on Yahoo! Finance.

Sandra Velasquez, the CEO and Founder of Nopalera, Creates Body Care as a Celebration of Her Latina Culture
LinkedIn
Nopalera soap ad

By Nashia Baker, Martha Stewert

Going back to the summer of 2019, Sandra Velasquez, the CEO and founder of Nopalera, a luxury, clean body care brand, visited with family in San Diego, Calif. while in between jobs. During this time at her childhood home, she started her now-business purely based on the beauty of her surroundings. The entrepreneur had an itch to learn how to create new things in her spare time, soap being her main focus. Most of the recipes she referenced called for aloe vera, though—which she didn’t have on hand.

“Here in Southern California, we have plenty of nopales, which is what in English, people call the prickly pear cactus, but we Latinos call it the nopal,” says Velasquez. “My parents, like most of the neighbors around here, have a nopalera, which is a cactus plant, in their front yard, so that is what I started to use instead of the aloe.”

Creating this cactus-infused soap proved to be her “a-ha” moment to start a brand of her own. The plant is sustainable with nourishing properties, and she pulled from her previous experiences as a musician and a sales professional to blend her passion for celebratory, cultural storytelling and authentic self-care to bring her product to market. “I could create this brand, a high-end Latina brand, that could really disrupt the Eurocentric values in this country that we see in the beauty industry, that normalize higher price tags for brands with French and Italian names,” she says.

Designing and Collaborating
Everything that goes into the Nopalera brand, whether it be the design to the naming of every product, is intentional on Velasquez’s part. “You know, you’re wearing the shoes that you’re wearing, because of how they look with your outfits, right? We buy things based on how they make us feel,” she says. “I knew that the branding was going to be critical.”

She started her brand by putting any necessary payments (like enrollment for formulation school) on her credit card. She then paid a designer she knew from a previous job to create the storytelling-centric packaging and researched to find a packer to lend a hand and get her products made.

“It was just a lot of just falling down rabbit holes on the internet, asking everyone I knew, reading industry articles, following the right publications, finding people’s names there, and then going and finding those people directly,” Velasquez says, noting that she would attend trade shows and panels—and still connects with women of color professionals personally. “It’s because I made a concerted effort, consistently, to keep finding people; you’re not going to find anything unless you go and literally put yourself in the rooms.”

Culturally Inspired Brand
Most importantly, Velasquez credits her love for her culture as being the heart of Nopalera as a whole. “My family has impacted me and my business because they really instilled strong cultural pride in me, which I’m very grateful for,” the CEO says. She expresses how her parents taught her about the pride in being Mexican growing up and to never assimilate in her life. “That cultural pride is what I have carried through in my brand,” Velasquez adds. “Bath and body products are the goods that we sell, but the perspective and the mission behind it is about elevating our culture and changing the perception of Latino goods in this marketplace.”

Cultivating an Audience
After completing the branding, Velasquez worked to grow her audience. “I started to advertise on Facebook and Instagram early on, even pre-launch,” she says. She invested in herself during this process by taking a social media ad class. From there, she says that she began running targeted ads in areas such as California, Texas, and Arizona with large Latino populations and building an email list so she knew who to send brand messages to when Nopalera made its official debut.

“That’s one of the best pieces of advice I can give to people; don’t go and create in the shadows, and then all of a sudden appear and expect for people to notice,” she says. “Building your email list in advance is so important, if you can, if you’ve already started [your business], just start building it now.” This helped her get the Nopalera brand name out there from day one, and she says people still find her business today through her email list. She’s also continued putting out targeted ads, as over 600 boutiques that have applied to become her stockist found the brand through the advertisements.

Click here to read the full article on Martha Stewert.

Latina Entrepreneur Melina Fuenmayor Builds a Successful Seven-Figure Business in Under Two Years
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Melina Fuenmayor in a blue dress

By Digital Journal

Melina Fuenmayor started her business with just $3000. Now it’s one of the largest signing service companies in Florida.

Melina Fuenmayor, a Venezuelan Immigrant, and a successful businesswoman, is inspiring Latina entrepreneurs across the US with her incredible story of struggle and triumph. Taking charge of the life she wanted to achieve, Fuenmayor is now living the American Dream. She’s one of Florida’s most successful Latina business owners, running a seven-figure notary signing company, The Closing Signing Service.

Fuenmayor came to the US in 2017 armed with nothing but the desire to build a good life for her family. As a woman immigrant, things haven’t been easy. She had to work four jobs just to make ends meet and provide for her family. She started working as an Administrative Assistant and then a Paralegal at a law firm. At one point, she also had to work as a babysitter.

Despite the language barrier and the challenges she faced, Fuenmayor is fueled with determination. While working at the law firm, she pursued studies in Notary Public and became a Certified Notary Signing Agent. After seeing the potential in the notary signing industry, Fuenmayor invested $3000 to establish a business. While it started as a side-hustle, she soon found herself quitting her jobs one by one. Four months later, she took a leap of faith and quit her last job to dedicate her focus to running the business full-time. Her gamble paid off.

In just three months, she was doing hundreds of monthly closings, becoming the first Notary Signing Agent in Florida to hit 10k a month. Her expertise is in loan signing. She guides borrowers through the signing process, ensuring the entire loan package is signed, initialed, dated, and notarized without any errors. Fuenmayor established herself as a leader in her field and became widely recognized as a referent.

In August 2020, during the pandemic, she launched The Closing Signing Service to meet the rapidly growing demands for her expertise. Title Companies and Real Estate Attorneys rely on her and her team to find and hire mobile notaries to close real estate transactions. They oversee the entire operation, from hiring the right notaries to ensuring all documents are signed, notarized, scanned, and dropped off on time. The company offers its services nationwide, facilitating successful and seamless closings.

In under two years, The Closing Signing Service completed thousands of closings for hundreds of clients and has amassed a significant client base across the country.

Despite her accomplishments, Fuenmayor is not one to rest on her laurels. Aside from running her company, she’s also focusing her efforts on sharing her expertise and insights as a Notary Signing Agent and a Signing Service Owner. She has a training program called Notary Business Guidance dedicated to helping aspiring business owners succeed in the notary service industry.

Click here to read the full article on Digital Journal.

3 Strategies Female Founders of Color Can Use to Secure Funding
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Select business owners will receive a

By Xintian Tina Wang, Inc.com

Black and Latina women founders received only 0.43 percent of the $166 billion in VC funding dished out to startups in 2020. That’s according to ProjectDiane, a biennial report on the state of Black women and Latina founders by the organization DigitalUndivided.

Two women who are beating the odds are Kelly Ifill, the founder and CEO of Guava, a neo-bank and community platform designed to serve Black entrepreneurs and small-business owners, and Evelyn Rusli, an angel investor and the co-founder and president of baby food brand Yumi. The two sat down with All the Hats editor Teneshia Carr to talk about the best strategies for overcoming the hurdles to getting funding as a female founder of color. Here are three that stand out.

1. Be prepared to hear ‘no’ and keep pitching.
Rusli says she receives probably hundreds of rejections when pitching to investors, but encourages founders to stay positive nevertheless. “I think you have to pitch a lot of investors in the beginning, where not everyone is going to say yes. In fact, you’re going to get many nos,” says Rusli. “For every no out there, there is a yes. If you believe so strongly in your vision and that’s why you took the leap, then you just have to continue to knock on those doors and try to find the angles.”

Ifill agrees and suggests that pitching is a numbers game — by pitching more, you’ll come to understand what resonates with investors best. “Some investors will give you feedback, so you can scrap from your pitch what’s not working and what you need to double click on,” she says.

2. Find a compelling story.
Practice telling your pitch story to get it right and tight. Investors are humans, and they respond to stories that have humane aspects.

“We don’t pay attention to the storytelling aspect of the pitches enough,” says Ifill. “Try to tell stories of the lived experience of people that you’re trying to change or an industry problem that you’re trying to solve. I find that’s [led to] the most successful moments that I have had with investors.”

3. Leverage your network to find the right investor
LinkedIn can be your go-to platform to get to know people in your industry. Rusli urges being unafraid to cold call people you don’t know. “People reach out less than you think they do in general. If an investor finds your subject line interesting, they might just respond.”

Click here to read the full article on Inc.com.

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Upcoming Events

  1. City Career Fair
    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
  2. The Small Business Expo–Multiple Event Dates
    February 17, 2022 - December 1, 2022
  3. National College Resources Foundation Upcoming Events–Mark Your Calendar!
    September 24, 2022 - April 1, 2023
  4. HACE National Virtual Career Fair
    September 29, 2022
  5. ROMBA Conference
    October 6, 2022 - October 8, 2022
  6. HACU 36th Annual Conference
    October 8, 2022 - October 10, 2022
  7. NMSDC 50th Anniversary Conference & Exchange
    October 30, 2022 - November 2, 2022
  8. The UnidosUS Workforce Development Summit 2022
    November 2, 2022 - November 4, 2022
  9. NBIC Unity Week 2022
    November 15, 2022 - November 18, 2022
  10. UnidosUS – LatinX Health Equity Summit 2022
    December 6, 2022 - December 8, 2022