The Latina Entrepreneurship Program from the Latin American Association, Avanzando Juntas, has been a fundamental pillar to provide support and inspiration to more than 7,000 women. We provide them with resources, guidance, and a community that supports their dreams and ambitions. Latina entrepreneurs often face barriers to accessing capital due to socio-cultural expectations, lack of information, and biases in the financial industry. Accessing capital is not just a matter of money, but of hard work and equal opportunities. The Avanzando Juntas program is committed to breaking down these barriers.
Barriers for Latina Entrepreneurs
In the financial industry, there are prejudices that can make accessing capital for Latina entrepreneurs difficult. These biases can manifest in terms of higher interest rates, stricter collateral requirements, or the unwillingness of lenders to finance businesses led by women. Many times, Latina entrepreneurs are not aware of the available financial opportunities or face linguistic and cultural barriers that hinder their access to these opportunities. For this reason, we not only support entrepreneurs with their business but also help them strengthen their English level with our ESL classes.
Despite these challenges, women in Georgia are showing impressive entrepreneurial spirit. Female entrepreneurs have played a crucial role in Georgia’s economic growth. In 2020, women accounted for nearly 40% of entrepreneurs in the state, a significant percentage that underscores their vital contribution to the local economy. This entrepreneurial drive from women has been an essential factor in Georgia’s recognition as the number one state for business in the United States.
Tools to Break Down the Barriers
To support these hardworking entrepreneurs, the Latin American Association has established the Latina’s Empowerment Program, Avanzando Juntas. The program consists of four key components:
- Introductory Classes: Latina Entrepreneurs learn about Value Proposition and Financial Education in two different monthly classes, before being able to join the Business Incubator.
- Business Incubator – “Planifíca tu negocio” course: For eight weeks, entrepreneurs receive more than 20 hours of training in this program that takes place four times a year.
- Business Accelerator – ACCIONA: Provides high-level business strategies, technical assistance, personalized mentorships, marketing training, access to capital, and networking opportunities.
- Business Ecosystem: Provides advisories and in conjunction with the CNPP, is designed to reduce barriers and provide the necessary support to underrepresented and neglected businesswomen through grants. Additionally, the Business Ecosystem is a network of:
- Maximize business potential
- New opportunities
- Community Navigators Pilot Program
The Catalyst for Change: Business Ecosystem
Our Business Ecosystem is not just a program, but a catalyst for change. It’s aimed at empowering Latina entrepreneurs in multiple facets. Our program has provided loans from $500 up to $10,000. We not only offer grants, but we open the door for women to meet more successful entrepreneurs who carry the motto of advancing together (Avanzando Juntas). This ecosystem nurtures the professional and personal growth of entrepreneurs in multiple facets.
Our Community Navigators Pilot Program (CNPP) is a unique initiative within our Business Ecosystem designed to break down the barriers faced by underrepresented and neglected entrepreneurs. By accessing the services, entrepreneurs get what they need to recover or grow their businesses. The CNPP is a collaborative effort with the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) aimed at providing support to Spanish-speaking micro-entrepreneurs in Georgia.
Tangible Results of Empowerment
Through our of Economic Empowerment Department and its program for Latina entrepreneurs, we are making a tangible difference in the lives of many women in our community. The CNPP has supported Latinas to apply for grants, achieving a total sum of $736,000 in grants and providing over 500 hours of training.
A bright example of the positive impact of our Business Ecosystem is Shirley Paucar, owner of Sweet Toppings ATL. Since joining the Avanzando Juntas program in September 2020, Shirley has gone from being an assistant manager at IHOP to a successful entrepreneur living her dream. Through the CNPP she obtained a $7,000 loan which she used to purchase an industrial kitchen. Thanks to her effort and the support of our Business Ecosystem, Shirley has grown her company exponentially from home. This has allowed her to spend more time with her son while generating $5,000 a month in earnings.
Another exemplary woman from our program is Verónica Cabrera, owner of Imagina Details. During the pandemic, Verónica had to leave her job as a taxi driver. She needed to find a way to support her family. Veronica heard about the Avanzando Juntas program, where she could learn how to grow her business. The CNPP helped Verónica obtain a $2,500 loan. She also obtained computers and equipment for her business worth a total of $2,500. Verónica Cabrera is currently part of ACCIONA, where she continues her growth supported by a community of Latina entrepreneurs, ACCIONA manager Ernesto Gonzalez and the LAA staff.
Breaking Barriers and Fostering Prosperity
Through our Business Ecosystem and the CNPP we are working to reduce the barriers to economic mobility and prosperity that Latinos face, fostering self-sufficiency and a brighter future for all. Looking to achieve your dreams? Register now, take your business to the next level and let’s keep Avanzando Juntas!