How Hispanic Women Continue to Excel as Entrepreneurs
Geri Stengel, WE NYC Mentor
Geri Stengel - Ventureneer

Don’t pigeonhole Hispanic women entrepreneurs. They are multifaceted, according to Hispanic Women Entrepreneurship: Understanding Diversity Among Hispanic Women Entrepreneurs, a report by Ventureneer, my company, and CoreWoman. They are born in the United States and throughout Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean. Their businesses come in every shape and size.

And they contribute mightily to the U.S. economy: 1.9 million Hispanic women-owned firms employ 550,400 workers and generate $97 billion in revenues, estimates the 2016 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report from American Express OPEN. “However, if Hispanic women-owned businesses generated employment and revenues proportionate to those of other women entrepreneurs, these figures would increase by 80,000 and $155 billion, respectively,” said Susana Martinez Restrepo of CoreWoman.

Hispanic Women Entrepreneurship sheds light on how entrepreneurial training programs such as WE NYC, a free program from the City of New York, improve the success of Hispanic women entrepreneurs in areas like networking funding, and employment. Research by EntrepreneurTracker from FIELD at the Aspen Institute suggests, for example, that micro enterprises, which employ five people or fewer, generated an average of 3.9 jobs after their founders took part in a training program.


Hispanic women-owned firms contribute mightily to the U.S. economy: employing 550,400 workers and generating $97 billion in revenues.

estimates from the "2016 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report" from American Express OPEN

WE NYC participant Christie Chirinos is a Peruvian immigrant who arrived in Miami at the age of nine. She is now a partner at Caldera Labs, makers of Caldera Forms, and a graduate of WE NYC’s first cohort, an accelerated version of its curriculum which also includes one-on-one counseling.

Chirinos co-founded Ingot, which merged with Caldera Labs. The company creates tools and trainings for web developers to make WordPress more powerful and more fun. Three quarters of its business comes from outside of the U.S., including from Europe, India, South Africa and Japan. A core value of the company is accessibility, which includes making technology affordable even for web professionals in developing countries and usable by everyone, including people with disabilities.

“I live in the greatest city in the world for women entrepreneurs,” said Chirinos. But she has spent the last couple of years heads down building the infrastructure for the business. She knew it was important to be out networking and connecting with people. Somehow, though, she never seemed to find time to do it. Then WE NYC mentor Christine Rico suggested that Chirinos participate in some of WE NYC’s training programs and networking events. Chirinos training included WE Master Money workshops on credit, funding and leadership. .

Chirinos started the business with $300 of her own money. Until recently she supplemented her income by working first a full time job, then a part time one. “The financials are now strong,” said Chirinos. However, she has a long list of things, such as hiring staff, that would grow revenue and increase profitability — but lacks the internal cash flow to implement them.  “This is problem with a very established solution — outside capital,” she continued.

“Hispanic women entrepreneurs, like most women, are much less likely to see a need for financing,” said Martinez Restrepo.

Initially reluctant to seek outside capital, Chirinos ran the numbers and found she could make the monthly payments. Encouraged and supported by the women in her WE NYC cohort and guided by instructors who are lenders, Chirinos decided to make the leap. She submitted an application to a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), BOC. CDFIs provide affordable loans to businesses whose owners are from underrepresented segments such as women and minorities. Chirinos has passed the first stage of the funding process.

Chirinos’ mother supported a family of three on $27,000 a year. It is very important to her that the organizations she works with align with her values of inclusivity and affordability. She has found two such organizations in WE NYC and BOC.

“Good training programs provide technical know-how, but also need to strengthen soft skills by addressing mindset challenges such as confidence and negotiation skills. They also need to provide mentorship, networking and connect participants to funders and offer follow up services,” said Martinez Restrepo.

WE NYC does all of these in a friendly and supportive environment.

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