For the more than 120,000 Hispanic-Latino small businesses in New Jersey, launching and growing those enterprises can be challenging. “Many are run by first-generation immigrants who don’t have the contacts other entrepreneurs have,” says Carlos Medina, president and CEO of the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey (SHCCNJ). “They struggle to obtain capital and often resort to using credit cards and getting loans from family to keep their businesses running.”
Since 1989, SHCCNJ has been helping Hispanic-Latino business owners turn nascent operations into sustainable companies with its Hispanic Entrepreneurship Training Program, which offers free bilingual business education, one-on-one mentoring and access to low-cost financing. “We are their business coach, their Rolodex to connect them with potential opportunities and their advocate to help them achieve their entrepreneurial goals,” says Medina.
Now the organization is helping established Hispanic-Latino entrepreneurs better publicize their businesses. With a new series of virtual and in-person coaching sessions, SHCCNJ is training about 50 business owners in media and marketing. Offered over eight weeks in the summer, the program provides bilingual instruction on how owners can market their products and services on social media and on-air, including on shows such as Que Pasa NJ, Amigos de Univision and ChamberTalks. Some of the participants are SHCCNJ alumni, while others are newcomers to the organization. All have been successfully operating their businesses for at least five years and are ready to take their companies to the next level.
Practical training includes mock on-air interviews, and each participant will leave the program with sample videos. A marketing expert coaches students on creating social media content that gets noticed. Other experts help business owners build virtual storefronts so they can sell and market themselves online. “Often it’s the kids in the family who are helping their parents use technology in their businesses,” says Medina. “We want to provide owners with marketing strategies, but also give them the technology tools to execute those strategies.”
The 2022 Summer Series has been made possible by a grant from Bank of America. “Knowledge is power, and learning new marketing techniques can help empower entrepreneurs for years to come,” says Alberto Garofalo, Bank of America’s New Jersey president. “We recognize that Hispanic-Latino-owned businesses are critical to local economies, and now more than ever effective marketing is essential for business growth.” Adds Medina, “We wouldn’t be able to survive without private sector support from companies like Bank of America.”
The support for SHCCNJ is an example of Bank of America’s commitment to help advance racial equality and economic opportunity in local neighborhoods around the country. From entrepreneur funding and expanding home ownership to professional skills training and healthcare access, Bank of America continues to partner with innovative leaders to help communities implement solutions to society’s biggest challenges.