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Indy Chamber Highlights Success of Female Entrepreneurs, Hispanic Business Leaders as Critical to a Stronger, More Inclusive Economy

Posted by jpellman on May 12, 2017

After several years of decline, the rate of new business creation in the United States may finally be moving into positive territory, according to the latest data from the Kauffman Foundation and U.S. Census.  In particular, two groups of entrepreneurs are leading the charge:  The percentage of women-owned businesses reached a 20-year high in 2016, while the five-year start-up rate for Hispanic-led firms is double the national average. 

The Indy Chamber oversees initiatives aimed at helping local female and Latino entrepreneurs launch and grow their companies, and recently marked notable developments in each area.  Last Wednesday (May 3rd), U.S. Small Business Administration chief Linda McMahon joined Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch to present the ISBDC’s Economic Development and Growth through Entrepreneurship (EDGE) awards to local employers in Speedway. 

At the event, the Central Indiana Women’s Business Center (CIWBC) – part of the Indy Chamber’s Entrepreneur Services Division and Business Ownership Initiative – earned a special SBA award as the Women’s Business Center of Excellence.

“The CIWBC is part of an outstanding ‘team effort’ with the Indy Chamber to advance entrepreneurship in the Indianapolis region, while keeping a special focus on the needs of women-owned businesses,” said Stacey Poynter, Indiana SBA District Director, who was on hand for the awards.  “They’ve been great partners in our microlending program and have expanded their free one-on-one business coaching services across the metro area – it’s a one-stop resource for expert advice, business planning resources, and growth capital.”

Carrie Henderson, the Indy Chamber’s Vice-President of Entrepreneur Services, noted that national data shows that female entrepreneurs receive less than 10% of U.S. venture capital investment and struggle with business loan approval rates 20% lower than their male counterparts.

“To close these gaps and truly tap the full potential of women-owned enterprises in our economy, we’re working with these entrepreneurs to tighten up their balance sheets, become better loan applicants, or get connected to other sources of capital – including a direct microloan through BOI, if necessary,” she said.  “We appreciate this recognition and the continued partnership of the SBA.”

The next day, the Indy Chamber’s Hispanic Business Council (HBC) held one of its regular ‘Conexion’ events, this one at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and presented its annual Leadership Awards to significant contributors and role models for the success of local Hispanic-led ventures.  This year’s recipients include:

Mario Rodriguez, Executive Director of the Indianapolis Airport Authority

Ricardo Juncos, Founder of Juncos Racing

Richard Miller, President and Owner of Fineline Printing Group

Margarita Hart, Founding Executive Director of Esperanza Ministries, Inc.

Marlene Dotson, President and CEO of the Indiana Latino Institute

The HBC supports the Hispanic business community through programs like Conexion that engage employers, civic partners and other decision-makers.  By helping participants widen their networks, find mentors and strengthen business relationships, the HBC addresses a common challenge among Hispanic-owned enterprises:  An analysis by Stanford University and the Latino Business Action Network says nearly 75% of Hispanic entrepreneurs start their businesses alone, without partners – 20% higher than the average of all firms. 

“The HBC provides a forum for Hispanic business leaders to get better connected, explore opportunities and learn from one another,” said HBC Executive Director Gustavo Escalante.  “Through the Leadership Awards, we also highlight those in our community who have blazed a trail and found success – by celebrating their achievements, we can help inspire even more success.”

According to Indy Chamber CEO Michael Huber, the efforts of the CIWBC and HBC address a broader need to sustain economic growth by expanding access to opportunity.

“A healthy economy is broad-based, diverse, and creates widespread opportunities for success for those who are willing to work harder and smarter,” said Huber.  “We’re working on a more ambitious strategy around this idea of inclusive growth – our push for mass transit, for example, was based in part on the idea that people and neighborhoods shouldn’t be isolated from jobs because of inadequate transportation options. 

“The CIWBC and HBC – along with new initiatives, like One Million Cups – address a similar issue:  That anyone with a solid idea and a willingness to pursue it should be able to explore entrepreneurship, with access to good advice, the chance to make their pitch to investors or lenders, and a supportive community behind them.”