Grant funding for Latino entrepreneurs: Making an impact on the small business ecosystem
In 2022, Small Business Majority, in partnership with Support Latino Business and Modern Woodmen Fraternal Financial, awarded critical funding to three Latina business owners through their annual #SupportSmallBiz grant program. The grant program bridges the gap in small business funding for Hispanic and Latino businesses, which often face challenges and systemic barriers in getting the capital and resources they need to start, grow and expand their enterprises.
Ahead of the 2023 #SupportSmallBiz grant, now in its third year, we chatted with the 2022 grant award recipients to learn about their experience with the grant program, how the funds changed their businesses and where they are today.
“I took some time to really think about what my business needed before using the grant funding I was awarded,” says Kenia Garcia, owner of K Shulada in Illinois. “As you know, the nature of business is always changing and I wanted to make sure that I was using the funds as best as I could.”
Through K Shulada, Kenia carefully chooses unique, handcrafted pieces for her customers that remind her of her beloved native country, Mexico. Much like her clientele, Kenia is looking to showcase and pay homage to a country rich in culture and art, while also supporting local economies by purchasing from Mexican artisans.
So when she received the grant prize, she knew she wanted to use it to grow her online shop. “The last few years have been uncertain and challenging, but I continue to push forward to keep my business afloat. Part of the #SupportSmallBiz funding went towards securing a physical location for my shop, which allowed me to also renovate my website, and the other portion will help me afford a truck to help transport my quality, hand-crafted goods to multiple pop-up events and reach new markets.”
Indeed, Kenia’s K Shulada is now reaching new markets and is offering more hand-crafted products that represent Mexico’s artisan culture.
“It went everywhere!,” says Lauda Flores, owner of Sno con Amor in California. “The grant funding was used to cover a number of different expenses, but notably, it helped me invest in better packaging for my sno pops, which got us into boutique stores and exclusive hotels.”
As a one-person shop, Lauda wears many different hats in her business and is always thinking about the next thing to do. Her business initially served artisanal sno cones and found great popularity in her local farmer’s market. But she knew that if she wanted to grow her business, she would need to adjust her product slightly.
To scale her business and with a goal of turning her brand into a Consumer Packaged Good (CPG), Lauda added a new but slightly similar product, the sno pops. She’s also added a catering side to her business, where she caters to parties and corporate events–including the NFL's Super Bowl.
Lauda shares, “We went from this little sno cone stand at a local farmer’s market stand to selling my artisanal products in stores, boutique shops, hotels, and e-commerce nationally. We’re growing and we’re not stopping for a second.”
Maria Lupita Nava
Every bit counts and for us, we used the grant funding toward covering the costs of buying ingredients to make our tortillas and developing more consistent and appealing packaging of our product,” says Maria Lupita Nava, owner of Tortillas con Madre in Washington. “When you’re growing your business, you use as much of your personal funding to keep the ball rolling amid ongoing challenges.”
Lupita’s Tortillas con Madre is run and operated exclusively by her and her family. After starting in a garage in 2017, she and her family have come a long way. She shares, “After my kids grew up and they didn’t need me as much, I felt this urge to reinvent myself. This is a feeling that most mothers can relate to, and I felt supported and encouraged by my family to look at my Mexican roots and use the recipes of my mother and grandmother to make a unique, healthy and locally sourced product that anyone can enjoy.”
Lupita’s healthier twist on the classic tortilla is what keeps her customers coming back for more and more. She works with local farms and vendors, and limits the number of ingredients to create her organic product offerings, ensuring freshness and flavor in every bite.