This story originally appeared on AL DÍA.
“Una bulla para las graduadas!” Lenin Agudo from Widener University cried as the guests responded with a big cheer. Family and friends were ecstatic as their loved ones were being acknowledged for their newest accomplishment. The graduates were filled with emotion as they congratulated each other and were reminded that this was just the beginning of a new chapter in their business journey. Sixteen Latina women from different backgrounds connected to a common goal: to grow their confidence as entrepreneurs.
That is what Finanta, the nonprofit lending institution, has intended to since starting the program. And on Tuesday, April 16, these women were the first to graduate from a new course that is designed to not only motivate them but also encourage them to get out of their comfort zone.
A time to create
“Ella Emprende: Cree. Crea. Crece,” was created with the purpose of helping women to grow as leaders in their businesses and to encourage them to create connections, as well as acquire knowledge that opens doors and builds strategic alliances. This free, six-week course contained material that encouraged the participants to learn and share ideas, as well as to advise one another in order to develop their business.
“This is the process of starting something, ideally, we want it grow,” emphasized Luis E. Mora Rechnitz, president of Finanta, while addressing the women entrepreneurs in his welcoming speech. “I want this to be the beginning of a relationship that holds you together for the next twenty years, and that you help each other, as well as share the ups and downs.”
Since the beginning, Finanta has sought to form a group of women entrepreneurs, but model initiatives were scarce. They did not find any courses similar to the one they created, since all the courses they found that had already been established did not teach finance and leadership at the same time.
Kersy Azocar, vice president of Finanta, explained that they were looking to give these women tools to find their value and potential as entrepreneurs, because without those hard skills, they are limited.
A time to grow
During the ceremony, several women stood up to give testimony that what Finanta had proposed became a reality for them. Teresa Herrera, owner of La Mixtequita Poblana, was no exception.
“I feel proudly like an entrepreneur,” said Herrera. “It’s not easy when we believe we can’t, but since we can, we should keep going because we have potential.”
Like Herrera, several of the women talked about supporting each other — a reflection of the six weeks spent working together.
These sixteen women showed that in order to do something extraordinary, there are no limits.
“Acute excusitis really reflects the fear of leaving the comfort zone, and it is normal that as women we suffer from acute excusitis, since it is very easy for us” shared Yeni Toro, author and writer, that in order to overcome this “excusitis,” or the tendency to make excuses for not pursuing your goals, it’s better to do it together.
“Let’s make these lessons a reality, resources were given to us and now we have to take them and make use of them,” Toro added.
A journey begins
But the graduation is just the beginning — Finanta will continue to support these women for a whole year. At the end of this course, the women also received financial assistance in the form of a loan, so that they can begin to grow their business. The amount of this loan will be allotted depending on the needs of each of the entrepreneurs. For the time being, Finanta will be planning the details and distribution of this financial assistance.
The program was supported in part by the Small Business Development Center at Widener University, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), and the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The next six-week course will be from June 4 to July 9, 2019. Latina women interested in participating in the program can find more information here.
This article is part of Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project among more than 20 news organizations, focused on economic mobility in Philadelphia. Read all of our reporting at brokeinphilly.org.