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Hispanic Female-Owned Businesses On The Rise In Arizona

Published: Monday, December 19, 2016 - 4:00pm
Updated: Tuesday, December 20, 2016 - 2:18pm
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(Photo by Lauren Gilger - KJZZ)
Blanca Deloarte opened her own graphic design firm, Hypernova Design and Printing, about a year ago.

At about 8 o’clock on a recent Tuesday night, 36 small-business owners were working their second shift of the day at the Fuerza Local business accelerator.

The six-month-long program is for Spanish-speaking business-owners and is run by the Local First Arizona Foundation. The program trains small-business owners on the ins and outs of starting and running a business, from finances and budgeting to planning for growth, according to Edgar Olivo, the director of the program.

At the end of the program, each business will receive $1,000 to invest in their growth.

“They want to contribute just like every other business, they want to pay taxes, they want to register, and they don’t want to get in trouble, they want to do everything right,” Olivo said. “But they just don’t have access to it in their native language, and that’s what we’re doing for them.”

But, there’s one thing you’ll notice when you look around this classroom tonight: Most of the business owners in this room are women.

“I could prove it just through our roster alone!” Olivo said, “that there are more women business owners.”

In fact, it’s a trend that was proven by the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in its most recent Women-Owned Business Enterprise Report from 2013, according to Monica Villalobos, vice president of the AZHCC.

“While other businesses have increased about 2 percent, from 2007 to 2012, Hispanic-owned businesses grew about 70 percent,” she said. “Hispanic women-owned businesses grew about 116 percent.”

Now, she said, more than half of all Hispanic-owned businesses in Arizona are owned by women. And that represents a big change in not a very long period of time.

“Up until 1987, women required a man’s signature on a business application,” Villalobos said.

But, in the intervening decades — particularly after the Great Recession — she said that Hispanic women have stepped up, along with the entire Hispanic community.

“Because, whenever you have a marginalized community, they create their own economy and in essence, they’ve started businesses when they can’t get into the workforce, they start businesses and they start a business community,” she said. “And now women have entered the business community.”

In Olivo’s Fuerza Local class that will be graduating in January, there are businesses of all kinds.

“We have everything from air-conditioning repair to a jewelry store, to a recycling business, several restaurants, a catering business, beauty services,” Olivo said. “We have residential and commercial cleaning services ... landscapers.”

They’re the non-glamorous entrepreneurs that support our economy, according to Olivo. They just don’t call it that, according to Villalobos.

“They don’t identify as entrepreneurs because, to them, being a seamstress and working out of your home they don’t consider that a business, it’s just something that they do and it’s who they are,” she said.

Blanca Deloarte became a small-business owner last year, when she said she quit her job at a magazine and started her own graphic design firm, Hypernova Design and Printing.

When she started, she said, “I wasn’t prepared. I didn’t have any savings at all.”

But, since then, she’s grown an expansive network of other Hispanic business owners in Phoenix who have become her clients, most of whom are also women.

Now, she teaches branding to the business owners taking the Fuerza Local program.

“For Latino woman … the first thing is family. You know, family, kids, husband,” she said. “But now, I think, something is changing.”

Hispanic women are realizing they can do more, she said. “It’s something that is in the air maybe!” she laughed, “That is changing.”

EDITOR'S NOTE: The story has been modified to reflect the correct percentage amount by which Hispanic businesses grew from 2007 to 2012.

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