On Wednesday June 24th, over 150 local business owners and community members gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of twelve local entrepreneurs who completed the 4th Fuerza Local Business Accelerator, a six-week program designed to teach Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs how to run successful businesses. Kimber Lanning, Executive Director of Local First Arizona, said that the business accelerator aims to educate and empower local business owners and entrepreneurs to create vibrant local economies and strong communities.
Over a series of twelve courses taught by experts who are also local business owners, students learned about a variety of business practices including marketing, customer service and budgeting. At the completion of the program, graduates receive a $1,000 matching grant from Fuerza Local for their participation in eMoneyPool, an online financial management and savings tool. These savings allow entrepreneurs to establish a line of credit through MariSol Federal Credit Union.
Since the launch of the accelerator in 2012, alumni have created 21 new jobs and 18 LLCs. Many have also been approved for first-time loans, opened business checking accounts, and used technology and social media to grow their businesses.
At the graduation, alumni joined recent graduates to share their experiences on how the accelerator has given them the resources and confidence to establish and grow their businesses.
Bernie Reina, owner of Colados Coffee and Crepes and alumnus of the second accelerator class said, “I don’t think we would be where we are if it wasn’t for all of the education, support and encouragement that Fuerza Local provided us to build our dream.”
Esther Garcia, also an alumna of the second accelerator class and owner of Popcorn and More, echoed Reina. “When we first heard about the Fuerza Local accelerator, we felt a sense of relief and enthusiasm about how the program could help us understand and properly establish and manage our business.”
Recent graduate Amanda Lopez of Makeup by Amanda Lopez, said, “This program has given me a clear overview of the path to having a successful business…all of the lessons and topics we learned were invaluable and allowed me to put in place several critical components to improve my business.”
Carlos Velasco of Velasco Consulting LLC and one of the coordinators of the 4th business accelerator class said, “People cannot really get out of poverty unless they begin to elevate the prosperity in their neighborhoods through entrepreneurship, hard work and supporting each other.” He emphasized that the impact of the accelerator extends to the families of the graduates, their communities and to many future generations.
Congratulations to the local entrepreneurs who invested in themselves:
Priscyla Galindo & Melissa Ruiz, Inner Shot
Edmundo Garcia, Eddy's Cakes & Snacks
Yorlenny Garro, Reju-Line Skin & Body
Ricky Gonzalez, Mundo de Sabores
Flor Estela Jimenez, All About U Hair & Nail Salon
Luz Amanda Lopez, Makeup Amanda Lopez
Rosa Morales, Yerberia Los Milagros
Brandon Ornelas, Breezy Pop
Miguel Pedroso & Nadine Vasquez, Clear Solutions Transportation
Lydia Renteria, Casas y Mas Magazine
Apneider Rivas, Mundo Deportivo
Jessica Valiente, Valiente Events and Productions