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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

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Houston: A hub for Hispanic entrepreneurs


Going to school and opening a business often sounds like the best way to succeed in life. Although that may be true, in many cases what motivates an individual to pursue their dreams is remembering their roots.

Houston is already known as one of the most diverse cities in the nation, something also reflected through its local economy. According to this year’s report from WalletHub Houston, the Space City was ranked 39 out of 50 top cities with Hispanic entrepreneurs, due to the purchasing power and the friendly nature of Hispanic businesses.

UH’s Hispanic Business Student Association aims to educate and transform interested students of every major and ethnicity into professional individuals. HBSA offers workshops to help build resumes, train students on interview and presentation skills and sponsor companies to find students that are eligible for their internships.

The Hispanic Business Student Association at Bauer hosts career building events such as resume critiques and mock interviews that give members the tools they need to stand out. |Justin Tijerina/ The Cougar

The Hispanic Business Student Association at Bauer hosts career building events such as resume critiques and mock interviews that give members the tools they need to stand out. |Justin Tijerina/ The Cougar

Supply chain management junior and HBSA public relations officer Ivan Bonilla said he believes everyone should have professional skills so they are prepared when they are looking for a job.

“The change of mentality is what makes a person open their eyes for new opportunities,” Bonilla said. “If I ever want to open up a business, I know that HBSA taught me where to go and who to talk to.”

Accounting senior and HBSA President Jose Perez said he was glad that Houston was in the top 50, knowing that Hispanics in Houston and throughout the country are now pushing themselves to greater accomplishments.

“Houston is a really good place to start a business because of the Hispanic population,” Perez said. “Many different Hispanics are going to college now and they are working together to become successful, and that’s what keeps us going.”

Bauer helps its students find the right internship for their career and to network with different companies based on their major. Perez plans to open an accounting firm in the future, and believes that Bauer is preparing its students by exposing them to different people from various parts in the city.

“I think what Bauer focuses on is the diversity,” Perez said. “They help us empower ourselves, how to learn to market in the workforce and how to find those businesses that exist here in Houston.”

More than just numbers

A report from Houston Business Journal showed that between 2002 and 2007, Hispanics owned almost 40 percent of Houston businesses. The numbers jumped from 75,165 to 104,368, and they’re growing.

One of these entrepreneurs is a UH alumnus who opened up an authentic Mexican restaurant known as 100% Taquito at 3245 Southwest Freeway. Owner and founder of the restaurant Marco Garcia graduated from the University in 1998 with a bachelors in business and entrepreneurship. He and his sister came up with a project for authentic Mexican food and decided to introduce Houston to real Mexican cuisine.

“I remember coming at 9 years old from Mexico trying Tex-Mex, and I had no idea what that was,” Garcia said.

“My sister and I knew for sure that if a person from Mexico came to our restaurant… they would know exactly what they’re eating.”

Dreams become reality

After growing his business from a trailer into a restaurant, Garcia is proud of the work he has put into it. He decorated the walls and added objects to provide customers with a Mexican atmosphere. After looking at the results from Wallet Hub Houston, he was disappointed that his city was ranked at 39 among other cities and thinks it should have been at the very top.

“For somebody graduating from UH, if they are Hispanic and their target market is going to be Hispanic and they want to have a big business that is stable, they would probably prefer a city like Houston,” Garcia said.

“If you’re hoping to make it big (in the business), I think Houston is definitely in the top 10 in the list.”

An effort of many

Another entrepreneur agreed with Garcia’s views on Houston. Freelance journalist Patti Gras opened up her own production company and has run her business for 22 years. She said believes Houston is a great city for starting a business due to its economy and the nature of its hardworking Hispanic community.

“Many of the entrepreneurs that come from other countries give up their old lifestyle to start a better life,” Gras said.

“When you come here, you have to start making money right away to survive, and that way is by opening up your own business.”

Endless reasons to try

The reasons to start a business vary by entrepreneur. Either they are taught to be a great entrepreneur or they see the success of others; their roots and dedication of their families motivates them. Bonilla said that the report gave him an extra motivation to strive for what he wants in his career, though his roots have always been what kept him going.

“Houston being so diverse gives so many opportunities for minorities, especially the Hispanic community,” Bonilla said.

“When you see a family member dedicating and pushing themselves to become something, you automatically get that motivation to do it too.”

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