Latinx is Next – OZY

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When Nicolina Delgadillo started her company BeeSmart in 2018, she knew that being an entrepreneur would be difficult. “Being a female and a Latina is hard work multiplied 10 times over,” she tells OZY, “Even though it is an exciting time to be a Latina boss.” Today, Delgadillo is in good company: Latino business owners are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the country. 
In today’s Daily Dose, we dive into the rise of Latino-owned businesses by speaking with cutting-edge entrepreneurs who are putting the pedal to the metal and highlight the little-known game-changers. 
— Based on Reporting by Isabelle Lee
Latino-owned businesses have been thriving. In the decade before the pandemic, the number of Latino entrepreneurs in America grew by 34%, faster than any other demographic. In fact, had Latino entrepreneurs not started any small businesses between 2007 and 2012, the number of small businesses in the U.S. would have actually declined during that period. Latino businesses also saw their revenue grow at a faster rate (25% per year) than white-owned businesses (19% per year) over the past two years. What does this mean? That economic recovery in the U.S. hinges on supporting, funding and elevating Latino-owned businesses.
Five years ago, JPMorgan called Latino-owned businesses the economy’s best bet. Latino entrepreneurs are, on average, younger than their non-Latino counterparts, with one-third under 45. And yet, the challenges they face are considerable, including a host of funding issues. The husband and wife team Adrian and Senofer Mendoza recognized this problem and started Mendoza Ventures in 2016. Currently, 75% of the venture fund’s portfolio is made up of minority, women, and immigrant-owned businesses.
The path forward for small businesses, especially those that are Latino-owned, according to a study by Drexel University, is to branch out into a variety of sectors. Latino entrepreneurs are expanding into construction, finance and insurance, as well as transportation and warehousing, a report by the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative found. But growth is happening across all sectors. Just ask 23-year-old Nico Ramirez. The budding entrepreneur started a non-fungible token generator called Verilink, which links physical art with an NFT. Ramirez has faced naysayers in the NFT space, as well as within his community. “Much of my family, who are immigrants, want me to pursue a more stable full-time job,” he tells OZY. “They have lived through comparatively more difficult times in Peru and want me to settle for a less risky endeavor than entrepreneurship.”
But getting started can mean dealing with roadblocks. The 2020 Stanford University study found that only 20% of Latino-owned businesses were approved for national bank loans of over $100,000, compared to around half of white-owned businesses. Latino-owned businesses are smaller than their white-owned counterparts, pulling in an average of $1.2 million and $2.3 million in revenue per year, respectively. The owner of the Latina skincare company ARUMI, Sallie Barbery, tells OZY: “Just last week I was part of a conversation with other founders and one of the women I was talking to assumed that I didn’t have a college degree. Not only that, she basically said I should not look for funding from angel investors or seed funding because I can be happy playing small.”
Bonnie Glass owns Euphoria Chocolate Company in Eugene, Oregon. The 49-year-old tells OZY that when the pandemic hit, sales nose-dived. But Glass, who is Latina, came up with a brilliant solution virtual chocolate tastings. Clients receive a box of chocolates by mail, then log into Zoom for a short history lesson on everyone’s favorite treat. “The story of chocolate is really tied to the story and history of Latin America. It was driven by colonialism,” she says. “This is a mesoamerican product and trade. What we enjoy today was created by those people and they don’t get enough recognition.”
This 25-year-old New Yorker started her first business at the age of 9, selling gumballs. During the pandemic, she left an editing job to start a new business JaziLupini from her kitchen. Turning to Kickstarter to fund her fledgling business of wheat-free pasta, Sanchez raised $20,000 in short order. Alternative, wheat-free pasta such as Sanchez’s is a $250 million industry. But Sanchez, who is Afro-Latina, has noticed that health food trends are slower to hit store shelves in her community. “I think the best gift that I can give to my community is healthier options,” she says. “Latino business owners have reached out to me to stock JaziLupini in their stores from places like Miami and Texas to as far as Chile.”
Thirty-seven-year-old Sallie Barbery heads what she says is one of the first Latina-focused beauty companies. ARUMI is a part of a huge market, research from 2019 showed that Latina women spent $2 billion on cosmetics that year, 30% more than other demographic groups. Barbery was appalled by the lack of Latina representation she found at beauty stores. That prompted her to open ARUMI in November 2020, both to reconnect with her heritage and to help others do the same. “I firmly believe that Latinx millennials and Gen Zers are looking to reconnect with their culture and that is also affecting their shopping habits. I think that people like myself are tired of trying to fit in and now want to show up more authentically in all spaces and that has led to people really supporting our business.”
Co-owner and founder of Austin, Texas-based Cocina 54 Empanadas, Cecilia Panichelli, was floored by the increased interest in her company’s frozen empanadas during the pandemic. Panichelli’s experience reflects a broader trend: Mintel Food & Drink recently released a study that showed that 60% of frozen food buyers are looking to purchase products that are spicy and expand their horizons. Panichelli tells OZY: “Before COVID, we were only processing about five orders per day online. In our first promotion after COVID, we got 60 orders in one day.” But interest isn’t enough, she says. “Now, it’s time for real support, which means funding.”
Watch Mike Pompeo Sit Down with Carlos Watson

 
 
This Argentine scientist invented the intravascular stent in 1984 to treat distressed blood vessels. Palmaz is owed a pretty big “thank you” from the approximately 1 million people per year who undergo cardiovascular surgery that utilizes the stent. Palmaz moved to the U.S. in the late 1970s to complete his residency at the University of California, Davis. His idea for inventing the stent design came about after he fashioned a metal mesh stent from a piece of scrap metal he picked up on his garage floor. These days, 75-year-old Palmaz has left the medical devices world behind: He now owns a winery in Napa Valley, California.
Captcha codes aren’t just the subject of outstanding standup comedy from John Mulaney. The wavy letters that you must identify to prove you aren’t a robot were co-developed by Guatemalan technology wizard Luis von Ahn. Von Ahn moved to the U.S. when he was 18 to attend Duke University, where he quickly emerged as a brilliant entrepreneur. He sold two companies to Google while in his 20s. Now, at 43, he’s the CEO and founder of Duolingo and a consulting professor at Carnegie Mellon University.
If L.A. Law was your jam back in the 1980s, then you’re probably familiar with the character Victor Sifuentes. Played by Jimmy Smits, then 31, Sifuentes was the first multidimensional Latino character to feature on American TV. Smits stole the limelight for his passionate portrayal of a lawyer battling systemic injustices on the show, a performance that saw him nominated for Emmys in all five seasons he starred in. Smits, now 66, later went on to star in classics such as NYPD Blue and The West Wing. But it was as Sifuentes that Smits paved the way for other Latino actors and characters to grace the silver screen. Read more on OZY.
In 1925, Ramon Novarro scandalized audiences of the film Ben-Hur with his tiny toga. But few theatergoers knew he was Mexican. Novarro appeared in films alongside icons such as Greta Garbo, playing characters of all ethnicities since he was white-passing. In the 1931 picture, Mata Hari, Novarro spoke in his native accent. But, when silent films went out of style, his career declined because of his noticeable accent. Novarro is an enduring icon for challenging Hollywood’s race problem, even though his career dates back 100 years. Read more on OZY.
“At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.” 
Frida Kahlo
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