Business needs prompt conference in Spanish

This August, Ana Gonzalez was among 60 of her peers who heard from Latino business leaders on marketing, leadership, business planning, and legal requirements for small businesses.

Latina Women Business ConferenceShe attended the Center for Rural Affairs’ inaugural Empowerment for Latina Women in Business Conference, offered solely in Spanish.

“I enjoyed learning that how you look and how you act when you receive your customers speaks highly of your business,” Ana said.

The owner and operator of Enchanted Bakery in Grand Island, Nebraska, also shared her story with conference attendees. She started her small business in 2015 with the help of two loans from the Center for Rural Affairs.

Ana is part of a growing demographic, as women own 44 percent of Latino businesses, according to the Latino American Commission.

Over the last decade in Nebraska, the Latino population has increased by 77 percent, noted in U.S. Census data. Latinos are moving to rural areas attracted by several factors, including the low cost of living and new job opportunities. When those opportunities present as small business entrepreneurship, the Center for Rural Affairs is eager to help.

Loan specialists with the Center work with Latina small business owners each day. Through this, we identified and understood the need to help Latina entrepreneurs navigate the legalities and requirements of starting a business in Nebraska.

“We wanted to provide an inclusive and culturally friendly place for Latina women to learn about resources to ensure their business is a success,” said Veronica Spindola, Center for Rural Affairs loan specialist. “That’s how we came up with the Empowerment for Latina Women in Business Conference.”

At the conference, Center staff strived to provide resources and business coaching to help empower new immigrants to be better prepared and informed.

“This conference was a two-fold benefit since we learned things outside our field, and also met with like-minded people and industry peers,” said Rocio Esparza, attendee and owner of an immigration services business.

One unique aspect was the session that featured Ana—a panel of Latina business owners who shared their experiences and stories of starting a business in the U.S. Ana shared that resources, such as loans from the Center for Rural Affairs, were very important to her success.

And, Ana sent a message to her peers.

“Do not give up on your dreams,” she said.

Inset photo: Ana Gonzalez, owner of a bakery, and Norma Marquez, owner of a media outlet, were featured on a panel of Latina business owners who shared their experiences and stories of starting a business in the U.S. | Photo by Kylie Kai