Latinos comprise the largest ethnic group in the largest state of the union. Today, nearly 40 percent of all California residents are of Latino origin – a number that will only grow over the coming decades. The future of California and the future of its Latino population are one in the same. But when we look at some of the economic and political trends among California’s 14 million Latino residents, there are troubling signs for our community, and for our state’s future.
Latina-owned businesses in California have doubled in recent years, proving once again that Latinas are entrepreneurial and a key economic engine for the state. Latina-owned small businesses generated over $19 billion in revenues and employed over 86,000 individuals in California in 2016. However the individual Latina-owned business generates nationally, an average of only $51,400 annually, considerably less than the average for all women-owned businesses combined which generate $143,100 annually. The vast majority (89%) of Latina-owned businesses are microbusinesses, sole proprietorships with no employees whose annual earnings are typically less than $50,000, and they generally lack access to typical avenues of business finance such as corporate credit accounts or commercial banking services. Latina microbusiness owners also lack the revenue to secure healthcare coverage and retirement plans, often relying on full-time jobs to supply basic benefits and hindering the full potential of their businesses.
Following its latest report on the Economic Status of Latinas, Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE) hosted a series of focus groups to explore how Latinas can be better supported to start, run and grow a microbusiness. The focus groups were held in four California cities with Latinas whose annual business revenues are $50,000 or less. The topics included their motivation to start businesses, their vision for the future of their businesses, the barriers they face and assistance they need to grow, lessons learned, and the role of government and corporate actors in supporting them. The findings from this study highlight specific recommendations to help Latinas succeed as business women, further strengthening their contributions to the state’s economic well-being.