New Delaware alliance aims to improve economic outcomes for Latino-owned businesses

The new alliance will offer Latino business owners in Delaware leadership courses, marketing assistance, and other help to help grow their market share.

A person stands at a podium.

FILE - Mary DuPont, the executive director of La Plaza Delaware, speaks about the new Latinos Leadership Training initiative. (Johnny Perez-Gonzalez/WHYY)

The newly formed Delaware Alliance of Latino Entrepreneurs, or DALE, is teaming up with La Plaza, a nonprofit partnership working to increase business opportunities for Latino-owned businesses in the First State. Together they hope to unify the state’s Latino business owners, giving them an opportunity for greater visibility and helping them compete in the market.

“We offer business plan development, access to credit, and business coaching,” said La Plaza executive director Mary DuPont.

She says Latino businesses can cooperate better among themselves to help grow. “The American businesses, [they] didn’t get to where they got to just by being by themselves,” she said. “They supported each other, and they worked together, and they helped each other.”

Last fall, La Plaza launched its 12-week Latino Leadership training program designed to help multicultural entrepreneurs start and expand their businesses through small business planning, mentorship, and coaching.

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“It just came as a result of having a really constructive dialog and interaction and, you know, people sharing with each other,” she said. The idea for DALE came after discussions with entrepreneurs in that training program.

Currently, La Plaza is incubating DALE since it’s not an independent nonprofit organization, yet. DuPont hopes the alliance will spin out on its own with more Latino leaders stepping up.

“It’s important to help Latino businesses to become leaders and to come together as a group, because, number one, there’s a lot of them,” she said. “They’re incredibly entrepreneurial. They’re creating jobs, they’re generating capital, they’re a force to society.”

A study published last year by California Lutheran University’s Center for Economic Research and Forecasting found “if Latinos living in the United States were an independent country, the U.S. Latino GDP would be the fifth largest GDP in the world, larger even than the GDPs of the United Kingdom, India or France.”

Sergio Morales, owner of the woodworking and carpentry company E&S Morales Brothers in Longneck, also serves as president of DALE. His mission is to unify all business owners and fight for the rights of the Latino community. This led to the group joining protests in support of Latino business owners outside Legislative Hall in Dover last month.

With first-hand experience, Morales wants to build more partnerships with different communities to show the quality of his work.

“Para mostrar a la gente, a los retirados, los que se vienen a vacacionar, a los que viven aquí en Sussex County, la calidad que tenemos nosotros los latinos, para poder ofrecerlos y entrar en el mercado americano”, dijo Morales. “Mucha gente no nos conoce aquí, especialmente las personas americanas. Saben que hay negocios pequeños, pero no saben la calidad que tenemos”.

“To show people, the retirees, those who come on vacation, those who live here in Sussex County, the quality that we Latinos have, to be able to offer them and enter the American market,” Morales said. “Many people don’t know us here, especially American people. They know that there are small businesses, but they don’t know the quality that we have.”  

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Leidi Perez-Bravo, owner of Confecciones Bravo Boutique in Ellendale is a DALE member. She said while it was challenging to start her business from the beginning, she was able to succeed with the help of her networks and family. She got help from DALE with a pair of challenges: finding suppliers for the materials she needed for her business and marketing herself on Google Maps.

“La verdad, sí, no hay recursos. Para los Latinos pues es difícil”, añadió Perez-Bravo. “A mí me gusta educarme y supuestamente pues que te iban a dar clases de tantas semanas y fui a las clases muy interesante… Ya después les pedí a ellos que me ayudaran y sí, me ayudaron al final. Terminé de finalizar la página y pues sí, he tenido clientes que a través de ellos han llegado aquí a la tienda”.

“The truth is, there are no resources. For Latinos, it is difficult,” Perez-Bravo said. “I like to educate myself and supposedly, well, they were going to give you classes for so many weeks and I went to the classes that were very interesting… Later I asked them to help me and yes, they helped me in the end. I finished finalizing the page and yes, I have had customers who have come here to the store through the page. ”

DALE now provides its 60 subscribing members with several workshops held by experienced speakers to assist them with education, as well as resources on how to establish good credit, take out loans, buy a house and car for their business. Members will also be able to get supplier discounts, as well as legal assistance from lawyers.

DALE and La Plaza’s plan a major outreach effort through its first-ever Latino business expo, which will take place on February 25 at Cape Henlopen High School from 2 to 6 p.m. More than 60 Latino firms are expected to attend.

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