Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

October 23, 2020

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PIDC is a proud partner of the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GPHCC) — a not-for-profit organization devoted to promoting the advancement and economic growth of Hispanic businesses and professionals in the greater Philadelphia region. Established in 1990, GPHCC accomplishes its mission through educational programs, a broad range of services, and special events. The GPHCC proactively serves a diverse membership—consisting of entrepreneurs, Latino businesses, Latino professionals, corporations, and government—with the overriding goal of helping these critical constituencies capitalize on the many opportunities that their diversity offers.

GPHCC’s President & CEO, Jennifer Rodríguez at Taller Puertorriqueño.
GPHCC’s Annual Meeting 2018

GPHCC has had a busy year. At the start of the pandemic, the chamber launched their Recalibrate, Retool, Restart (R+) Campaign as a strategy for supporting Latino-owned businesses as they re-integrate into the economy under the ‘new normal.’ Most recently, GPHCC also implemented their Dine Latino Takeout Weekend social media campaign (#LatinoTakeout) and hosted Dine Latino Restaurant Week from Sept 30-Oct 4 to support restaurants during these difficult times. PIDC caught up with GPHCC’s President & CEO, Jennifer Rodríguez, to further discuss these initiatives and how GPHCC has been helping Latino-owned businesses pivot during the pandemic. Check out our interview below.

Q: PIDC works to drive growth to every corner of Philadelphia through our business financing, technical assistance, business network, and real estate opportunities. We have been partnering with more organizations to further implement these efforts, especially for underserved business communities, such as women, minority, and immigrant-owned businesses. Can you tell us about the partnership between GPHCC and PIDC?

A: The collaboration between PIDC and GPHCC has centered on raising awareness and connecting Hispanic businesses to the resources PIDC provides as well as educating PIDC’s leadership on the needs, challenges, and aspirations of the Latino business community.

Q: From your perspective, what are the primary challenges Hispanic-owned businesses face?

A: While much has been said about access to capital as a challenge for diverse businesses, one of the primary challenges not often addressed is social capital. The quality of an entrepreneur’s network is as important, if not more important, to their success. Hispanic entrepreneurs often do not have access to the experts and individuals that can make a difference in their business success. Latino entrepreneurs are less likely to have relationships with attorneys, bankers, or accountants than their counterparts and, as we have seen with the challenges in accessing SBA’s PPP loans, this can be a serious problem when an emergency arises. At GPHCC we are focused on building a network of experts, influencers and decision-makers focused on supporting the growth and success of Latino-owned businesses.

Q: In general, what can be done to further support Hispanic-owned businesses in succeeding?

A: What can be done depends on who you are. Consumers can support locally owned Latino-owned businesses. Also, while making progress in supplier diversity initiatives is necessary, many of our businesses are consumer-facing and located along neighborhood commercial corridors, which are impacted by general disinvestment, crime, litter, and blight – all compounded by the pandemic. It is time for government, businesses, and investors to collaborate on comprehensive long-term solutions that build back our main streets, which are the heart of our neighborhoods and are critical in providing, not only needed goods and services, but also, employment and wealth-creation opportunities in the neighborhoods that need it most.

Q: What are some of GPHCC’s biggest accomplishments that you are proud of so far?

A: We are very proud of the successful execution of Accelerate Latinx, a 7-month intensive entrepreneurship program we piloted in partnership with the national nonprofit, Interise. We graduated 15 entrepreneurs and are fundraising to replicate the program in 2021.

We are also excited by the response and interest our Recalibrate, Retool, Restart (R+) Campaign is attracting. The initiative is GPHCC’s strategy for supporting Latino-owned businesses as they re-integrate into the economy under the ‘new normal. We recognize that restarting in this environment takes more than simply turning on the lights. From creating a technical assistance video library, to the virtual Closing the Gap Conference, the R+ Small Business Relief Fund, and Dine Latino, we have built a series of initiatives focused on providing businesses the know-how, resources and experts to help them overcome the challenges presented by COVID-19.

Q: What is your advice for business owners who are trying to keep their business afloat during the difficulties of the current world events?

A: As difficult as it may be, it is critical for entrepreneurs to move from reactionary mode to proactive mode. Reacting to business emergencies is exhausting and, ultimately, not sustainable, especially for small businesses where there is not a lot of redundancy or capacity to distribute additional responsibilities. I recommend that business owners set aside a few hours to work with their team and evaluate their business model against what their customers need today. A good tool is the Business Canvas Model, which will help them evaluate how the business offerings measure up against customer needs.

While this may seem daunting, entrepreneurs can access coaching and support from various entities. For example, we at GPHCC host coaching sessions for our members and work closely with the Widener University Small Business Development Center, which employs bilingual consultants.

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