Hispanic Entrepreneurs: Finding New Ways to Compete

with Augusto Sanabria of Prospera

Hispanic-owned businesses are the fastest growing segment of the small business ecosystem, yet barriers to business development persist for this population.

Augusto Sanabria, President and CEO of Prospera, joins host Tetiana Anderson to discuss efforts to assist Hispanic entrepreneurs in establishing and expanding businesses.

Posted on:

Jan 03, 2022

Hosted by: Tetiana Anderson
Produced by: National Newsmakers Team

Anderson: According to a recent Stanford University report, the number of Latino-owned businesses has grown 34% over the last 10 years, compared to just 1% for all other small businesses, making Latino-owned businesses the fastest-growing segment of the small-business ecosystem. Hello, and welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers." I'm Tetiana Anderson. Hispanics are embracing entrepreneurship at an impressive rate, yet barriers to business development persist for this population. Joining me to share efforts to help close this gap is Augusto Sanabria, president and CEO of Prospera. Augusto, welcome.

Sanabria: Thank you, Tetiana, for inviting me.

Anderson: So after everything that all of us have been through at this point with COVID, give us a sort of sense of the state of Hispanic businesses these days. I mean, how are they faring?

Sanabria: Well, I think, you know, we're still going through it, right? I know that a lot of businesses are still struggling, but I feel that, you know, COVID kind of brought into the forefront a lot of the barriers that we already knew existed for our Latino entrepreneurs, like access to capital, like proper bookkeeping procedures and paperwork, that prevented them from accessing the relief that they needed for their companies. But just like in 2007, when we saw the recession, I do see the resiliency of the Latino businesses, how, you know, back then during the recession, they helped the US economy kind of come out of it a little quicker. And I do see that now during COVID and now hopefully post-COVID, we're seeing the same, this resiliency of the Latino entrepreneur and kind of helping the American economy.

Anderson: And so Prospera is a bit of a lifeline, it seems, for those who are either trying to start businesses or expand businesses and who may be having a little bit of trouble here. What do you offer these entrepreneurs specifically that they can't get elsewhere?

Sanabria: Well, I think that the success that Prospera has had in the last 30 years comes from the very beginning of the organization. It was started by a Hispanic entrepreneur who immigrated from Cuba and kind of jotted down all of the things that -- all the pain points that he went through when starting his own company. And so because we have stayed laser-focused on that and have been able to focus on the legal aspects of opening a business, the business planning, the access to capital, the development of credit, I think that that has developed a successful model that Prospera has been able to deploy primarily in Florida, North Carolina, and Georgia, but hopefully in the future, we can come for more communities and affect more people.

Anderson: And so, you know, we're talking about Hispanic-owned businesses, specifically here, but explain why what happens to these businesses, what happens to these entrepreneurs, has a larger impact.

Sanabria: Well, I think that the U.S. Hispanic Chamber says that there are 4.65 million Hispanic-owned businesses in the US. There was a Stanford report that highlighted the $1.5 trillion gap when you look at Latino business revenues, the average revenues that they bring in versus non-Latino owned businesses. If we could have some parity there, then that's a $1.5 trillion gap in the economy, and I can tell you that as I travel into rural communities or urban areas, the more resilient and the more vibrant their Latino entrepreneurship ecosystem is, the more successful the community is. I mean, when our clients come in and they're going to start their barber shop or their medical practice or their tech company, they not only hire Latinos, they hire everyone. They create jobs for the entire community, and when they're giving back to their community, their church, or the United Way, of their community, they're benefiting the entire community. So I think it is for all of us to benefit when the Latino entrepreneurs benefit themselves.

Anderson: And you talk about parity as a sort of measure of success, but, you know, what specifically do you mean when you say that? I mean, what do you need to see that will make you say this is, in fact, working?

Sanabria: Well, I think that, you know, businesses, we as an organization want to start companies where it is going to be a one-person show or a person doing their empanadas from a commissary or if it's the next Starbucks. I mean, we want to support all companies that want to be able to provide resources to them. Now, I do believe that success, we're going to reach that point where we see that our clients and our Latino-owned businesses can access credit to the same level that non-Latino businesses can, that they have the access to networks, to government contracts, and to many other opportunities that will enable them to grow, scale, and create more opportunities for everyone.

Anderson: All of it is so important, Augusto. I'm wondering if you can give us your website because I know people are going to want to go there and find out more.

Sanabria: Thank you, Tetiana. www.prosperausa.org.

Anderson: Augusto Sanabria of Prospera, thank you so much for joining us.

Sanabria: Thank you.

Anderson: And thanks to our viewers, as well, for watching. As always, for more great conversations with leaders in your own community and across the nation, log on to ComcastNewsmakers.com. I'm Tetiana Anderson.

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