Chamber reports on ‘state of Hispanic business’ in Philly region

Prompted by the rapid growth of Hispanic-owned businesses, the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has released the first “State of Hispanic Business” report.

The report highlights the Hispanic community’s economic accomplishments and outlines its overall market influence.

According to the report, almost 19,000 Hispanic-owned businesses operate in the Philadelphia region, earning $600 million annually and employing more than 18,000 people. Latinos represent the fastest-growing population and market in the region.

Chamber CEO and president Varsovia Fernández says the report introduces a crucial foundation of information that can help Hispanic business professionals succeed, as well as allowing the greater business community to address the needs of this influential market.

“We need the Latino community to come up and continue to pay taxes, and continue to grow the businesses, and continue to become professionals that make sustainable wages,” said Fernández.

Representatives from Santander Bank and The Hershey Company have endorsed the report and announced their interest in reaching out to Hispanic business owners and consumers.

“Hispanics are a marketer’s dream, a salesperson’s dream,” said James Nevels, Hershey chairman. “They are digitally savvy, they are young, and they are socially connected.”

“Hispanics are the cornerstone of future brand growth and should be recognized as such by company executives and agencies,” said the report. “Hispanics in the [Philadelphia area] have a total purchasing power of approximately $4.2 billion.”

Despite the growing influence of the Hispanic community, the report also elucidates the challenges that face Hispanic-owned businesses.

“It’s important to note that our community has very unique challenges, such as access to capital and financial literacy,” said Mario Zacharjasz, chamber chairman. “For example, the lack of financial statements (balance sheets, accountants) makes it difficult for Hispanic business owners to get lending from banks.”

The chamber is trying to represent these challenges as opportunities for financial institutions to work with Hispanic community. Some banks are ready to take advantage of the situation.

“[It is] a clear opportunity, for not only the Hispanic community, but for banks, to provide access to capital to all businesses,” said James Wujcik, a Santander executive and member of the chamber’s board.

The Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce hopes to continue investigating the Hispanic business market with further studies.

Fernández said the challenges Hispanic-owned businesses face reflect some of the larger issues confronting the Hispanic community.

“If we don’t address those challenges, the issues that you read about every day—about education, about voting, about health care—are not going to change,” she said.

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