With two-thirds of Hispanic and Latinx business owners experiencing a loss of revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic, this business community, which is the fastest growing in terms of GDP and workforce development, is facing a critical inflection point. This town hall, hosted by Mark Madrid, the CEO of the Latino Business Action Network, was organized by GEN, Hello Alice and LBAN to discuss how to best respond to these unprecedented challenges.
Madrid led a discussion among a panel of experts who included Marlene Orozco, Lead Research Analyst, Stanford Latino Research Initiative at the Stanford School of Business, Carolyn Rodz, Co-Founder & CEO, Hello Alice (and a classically trained pianist), and Cris Turner, Vice President and Head of Global Government & Public Affairs, Micron Technology; Board Member, GEN Global; Board Member, Black Girl Ventures; and former Board Member of the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute (and a champion competitive karaoke singer).
The State of Latinx Entrepreneurship town hall is an official activity of Global Entrepreneurship Week, an international movement coordinated by the GEN to empower entrepreneurs and help make it possible for anyone, anywhere to start and scale a business.
“Latinos are the fastest growing segment of the small business ecosystem,” said Orozco in framing the discussion. “The number of Latino-owned businesses has grown 34 percent over the last 10 alone, and this is in comparison to just one percent for all others.”
But the pandemic has presented an existential threat to many Latinx business owners: Stanford surveys revealed that one in four Latinx business closed in June 2020. In addition, Orozco said, “only one in six scaled businesses (more than $1 million in annual revenue) can survive more than six months with current liquidity.”
Rodz said that, “when Covid first struck . . . access to capital was a major barrier, particularly our Latinx community had very little cash reserves.” In a Hello Alice survey, 85 percent of respondents said that they needed a small amount of government assistance but that they needed it immediately. Rodz added that “access to capital is the number one barrier and the one that we at Hello Alice have focused on addressing.”
Looking ahead to 2021 the panelists pointed to the overwhelming sense of optimism and resilience among Latinx business owners. For example, Orozco said, that in June “80 percent said that their business would likely recover.” In September the number had waned, but only by a little.
“The thing that unites entrepreneurs around the world,” Turner said, “is the thing that is needed right now globally: hustle and problem solving.” He says there’s a hunger among policymakers to hear from entrepreneurs – “the window of opportunity to have our voices heard is open now.”