Latin American chamber of commerce hosts networking night for growing hispanic businesses
SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- On Thursday night, the Latin Chamber of Commerce hosted a networking night for the growing amount of Latinx entrepreneurs.
Juan Hernandez, the chamber’s president, said there a many Latinx business owners in Chicago overcoming the number one obstacle for many: obtaining credentials. Hernandez said many of the owners are undocumented and cannot file for credentials due to their citizenship status.
“Many Latinos are opening their own businesses in Chicago with limited documentation,” he said. “If they can do it in different cities, why can’t South Bend?”
He said he plans to talk with the city about ways they can work with undocumented entrepreneurs in St. Joseph County. Until then, he said the chamber is pushing resources to these entrepreneurs and other business owners.
“Getting started was hard, especially for the language barrier,” said Yulie Ortega, a partner at D&D Cleaning Services.
Ortega is from Venezuela and has been running her company since 2005. She said she got most of her help from entrepreneurial organizations such as SPARK and Michiana SCORE.
“We’re not in business just to be satisfied and pay bills,” Hernandez said. “We’re in business because we want to expand and grow our business to live comfortably and hire more people in the community to build a stronger economy.”
Nationally, there are more than 4 million Hispanic-owned businesses registered with the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. In South Bend, 8.6 percent of the population are immigrant entrepreneurs.
“South Bend is getting big,” Ortega said. “Opportunity is outside, you have to look for those opportunities don’t be afraid.”
Hernandez said the chamber is working to expand the reach of Latinx businesses from Western Avenue to the Lincolnway corridor and toward Washington Avenue.