The Critical Role Of Entrepreneurial Communities On Latina Professionals And Entrepreneurs

04/19/2016 02:41 pm ET Updated Apr 19, 2017

Vibrant entrepreneurial communities are key drivers of entrepreneurship and economic prosperity in cities, regions and countries. They support and promote entrepreneurship, businesses growth and innovation in geographic regions.

Latinas Think Big recently launched its first entrepreneurial community in New York City, and is launching a second one in San Francisco on April 27, 2016, at Galvanize.   Our entrepreneurial community model is unique, designed around the needs of both entrepreneurial and professional Latinas. These bimonthly gatherings will grow dynamic communities to exchange innovative ideas, support new ventures, promote the growth of existing businesses, and advance the careers of professional Latinas.

Latinas Are Launching New Businesses at 3 Times the National Rate, But Business Growth Disparity is Troublesome
The number of companies owned by Latinas rose to 1.48 million, an 87 percent increase between 2007 and 2012, compared to the national rate of 27% (U.S. Census Bureau). However, Latina-owned businesses tend to be small, and struggle to achieve growth and scalability. According to the 2014 State of Women-Owned Business Report, the average revenue of Latina-owned firms was $68,806, compared to $188,124 for companies owned non-minority women. This growth disparity between Latina-owned businesses and their non-minority women counterpart is an entrepreneurial crisis and a 1.5 trillion dollar opportunity for the Latino community at large, and the nation.

Local Entrepreneurial Communities Are Critical For Latina Entrepreneurs 
Entrepreneurial communities are nurtured and grown through on-going gatherings that bring together local entrepreneurs, aspiring entrepreneurs, mentors, investors, universities, innovation leaders, students and other stakeholders. Entrepreneurial communities create vibrant spaces and ecosystems that promote the exchange of ideas, supportive relationships, collaborations and connections to influential networks. There is no lack of entrepreneurial communities in Silicon Valley, Austin, New York, Boston and Denver, among other tech and entrepreneurial hubs around the country.  However, most of these communities are led by successful White male entrepreneurs who are doing great work in these communities, but may not necessarily be attuned to the needs of Latino entrepreneurs, or may not know how to engage them.

Entrepreneurial communities are especially important for Latinas. They create a special place where Latinas can connect with other Latina entrepreneurs, share entrepreneurial stories and strategies, and meet potential advisors, mentors and investors. The opportunity to share their challenges, strategies and goals with fellow Latina entrepreneurs is important for the successful launch of new ventures and the business growth of existing companies.  Unfortunately, entrepreneurial communities focusing exclusively on Latinas are non-existent around the country. This is why we launched the Latinas Think Big Exchange in New York City and San Francisco, with the vision of having these entrepreneurial communities all around the country by 2020.

The Latinas Think Big Exchange:  A Unique Entrepreneurial Community Model For Latina Entrepreneurs And Professionals
The Latinas Think Big Exchange is the first entrepreneurial community of its kind, creating welcoming spaces uniquely designed around the needs of Latina entrepreneurs. In addition to focusing on entrepreneurs, our entrepreneurial community intentionally engages professional Latinas. We strongly believe there is valuable synergy between Latina entrepreneurs and professional Latinas. Bringing them together in these entrepreneurial spaces is critical for both business and career success.

Professional Latinas Play A Key Role In Entrepreneurial Communities
Professional Latinas are increasingly achieving influential roles within their companies and organizations. They bring unique talents, ideas and influence to entrepreneurial communities.  Professional Latinas also bring a wealth of resources and networks that can help activate these entrepreneurial communities. They can also facilitate connections between Latina entrepreneurs and their influential networks. By building relationships between professional and entrepreneurial Latinas, these entrepreneurial communities leverage the collective talents, resources and networks of these two important stakeholders.

Entrepreneurial Communities Can Accelerate The Careers Of Professional Latinas 
Today more than ever, an entrepreneurial model is an essential tool and approach to achieving success in the workplace. Leveraging an entrepreneurial mindset and entrepreneurial strategies is the new approach to managing your career, whether you're working in the private, public or nonprofit sectors. Being a part of an entrepreneurial community offers the opportunity to learn about entrepreneurship and innovation, and sparks innovative thinking and solutions in the workplace.

Professional Latinas Are Well-Positioned To Become Successful Founders Of Scalable Businesses
Consider the following successful Latina entrepreneurs: Tanya Menendez (Co-Founder of Markers Row), Sylvia Flores (CEO, Manos Accelerator), Noramay Cadenas (Co-Founder, Make in LA), Catherine Lajara (Founder/CEO, Novel Research of NY) and Luz Rivas (Co-Founder, KitHub) and Betty Francisco (Founder/President, Fit Nation Ventures).  What do they all have in common?  They had a professional career prior to launching their own business enterprise.

A professional career can serve many purposes for future Latina entrepreneurs, including the accumulation of talents, skills, knowledge and networks that can be transferred to launch, manage and growth a new business. Furthermore, working in these professional spaces can spark ideas for new ventures and market opportunities.  For first generation Latina founders, their professional career journey can serve as a pre-incubator and launching pad to a successful business.

We Invite You to Join our Latinas Think Big Exchange on April 27, 2016, at Galvanize in San Francisco.

We are excited to host our first entrepreneurial community gathering on April 27, 2016.  These intimate gatherings will bring together  Latina entrepreneurs, aspiring entrepreneurs, professional Latinas, students, mentors, advisors and supporters. While our focus is on Latinas, we welcome every to join us and become an active part of our community.