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Latinx businesses get a boost

Program connects entrepreneurs with resources and capital

Catherine McGloin
Latinx businesses get a boost
Betty Francisco delivers speech at Amplify Latinx’s launch event for PowerUp Latinx Biz, a new initiative connecting Latinx business owners with resources for economic growth and development. Photo: Amplify Latinx

Latinx-led coalition, Amplify Latinx, plans to launch an initiative that could improve access to funding and visibility for Latinx-owned businesses across Massachusetts.

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Amplify Latinx, a collaborative group who campaign for civic engagement and political representation, hope their PowerUp Latinx Biz program, to be unveiled at HUBweek this October, will spur growth and connect Latinx entrepreneurs with crucial resources, as well as each other.

“We see PowerUp Latinx Biz increasing the connection between Latinx business owners, opening more doors and creating points of connection to the plethora of resources that exist out there,” said Betty Francisco, co-founder of Amplify Latinx, who uses the gender-neutral suffix “x,” rather than the traditional masculine ending “o” to describe people of Latinx descent.

One vital resource for Latinx businesses, like most, is funding.

PowerUp Latinx Biz program participants can expect greater access to capital, a key ingredient for economic success that Latinx businesses have been missing out on, said Francisco.

It is challenging for Latinx-owned business owners to find funding because they are often not part of a network, are too small, face language barriers with potential investors, or are simply unaware that backers are waiting in the wings.

Latinx entrepreneurs also find securing bank loans more challenging, or may not accept debt due to cultural reasons, added Francisco.

Beyond financing, PowerUp Latinx Biz aims to link businesses with accelerator programs, chambers of commerce and other governmental departments seeking procurement contracts, avenues that Francisco hopes will create business development models for sustainable growth.

“As they see … the resources they can tap into, it will create more natural, informal networks for business development that are hard to build on your own,” said Francisco. 

PowerUp Latinx Biz also pledges to boost the visibility of Latinx-owned businesses by helping them with external marketing efforts, and will offer an online database that business owners and entrepreneurs can use to connect with each other.

One in 10 businesses in Boston are Latinx-owned, according to the Boston Foundation Latino Legacy Report, but this number could be much higher. Francisco said many companies do not identify as Latino or operate “under the radar,” making them more difficult to locate and to provide them with culturally adapted assistance.

So far, about 30 Latinx entrepreneurs have been nominated to the program, Francisco told the Banner on Monday.

Once the program is officially launched it will become more tailored to the needs of its members, said Francisco, who also plans to highlight and address the unique challenges female entrepreneurs in the Latinx community contend with.

“It’s hard enough to raise funds,” said Francisco, “but it becomes exponentially more difficult when you don’t have the relationships, and if you’re a woman, you can add that on top.”

Any specific information about the experiences of female entrepreneurs will be shared once the initiative receives feedback from participants.

Nominations to join PowerUp Latinx Biz are open at Amplify Latinx’s website, and the program’s inaugural summit is scheduled for December.