Delaware’s new Hispanic Chamber of Commerce hopes to boost growth for Latino businesses

The Delaware Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is now offering Latino-owned businesses support and community connections to grow their impact.

Ronaldo Tello cuts a ribbon in front of a crowd

Ronaldo Tello, founder and president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, ceremoniously cuts the ribbon to mark the establishment of the organization in Wilmington, Delaware earlier in the year. (Johnny Perez-Gonzalez/WHYY)

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While Latino-owned businesses have seen steady growth — increasing from 5% of Delaware businesses in 2022 to 6% in 2023 — those numbers could grow even more quickly if many businesses didn’t face challenges like access to capital, lack of resources, language barriers and uneven government support.

Nationally, the Latino community contributes $3.2 trillion to the U.S. GDP.

Latino businesses in Delaware need more support from the state, according to Ronaldo Tello, owner of Delaware Hispanic Magazine and organizer of the Delaware Hispanic Award ceremony. While planning last year’s ceremony, he discovered a shared desire among Latino businesses to strengthen community ties, which led to the founding of the Delaware Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

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“The state is already receiving a lot of funding through so many Latino businesses and we have to make sure that that comes back and helps them,” he said. “People said, ‘Why don’t we form something where we can help each other, where we can really connect with resources,’ and I think this cry came from the great number of first-generation business owners that we had, and many of them felt isolated and kind of disconnected from other efforts to support the business community.”

He identified common obstacles encountered by business owners.

“In that meeting, they spoke about the barriers that many times immigrants go through. The first generation has this language barrier, then there is a lack of trust because some of the resources are from the government,” he added. “We also learned that the community needed a lot of financial literacy support.”

Just a few months ago, Tello and other volunteers took proactive steps with the grand opening of the new Delaware Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, featuring a ribbon-cutting ceremony at its office in Wilmington.

Since then, the chamber has seen significant community involvement, with over 200 business owners becoming members and taking advantage of resources ranging from the Bilingual Business Center and Bilingual Kitchen Incubator to computer and office skills classes, monthly networking hours and Entrepreneurs Without Barriers classes.

Among the new members is Olga Torres-Melendez, a Wilmington resident, and her fiancé, who jointly own All-in-One Painting. They actively participated in the first cohort of the Entrepreneurs Without Barriers classes, a six-week program provided by the chamber to further develop their business skills.

Throughout the program, their main goal was to evaluate the effectiveness of their administrative practices and ensure that their pricing structure was in line with their profitability goals.

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“We got the opportunity to schedule one-on-one with the instructor because one of our biggest concerns was we weren’t sure if we were charging correctly, so we weren’t sure if we were making money or losing money,” Torres-Melendez said. “I would take into consideration the time I would take to go and do an estimate, I wouldn’t take into consideration the gas that it will take me to get to a customer’s house and I wouldn’t take into consideration the taxes that we pay.”

During the program, DHCC covers a range of topics from finances, marketing, leadership, long-and short-term goals and crisis management.

Recognizing the significance of family in Latino culture, the chamber also prioritizes familial activities and wellness, offering unique wellness sessions and organizing family trips to support members balancing business ownership with full-time jobs.

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