Growth and Success of Latino Businesses Highlighted at Annual Summit

Speakers and panelists provide insightful perspectives on challenges many Latino entrepreneurs continue to face.

March 02, 2023

| by Stanford GSB Staff
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Photo of Tom Chavez (left) and Jonathan Levin (right) in conversation in CEMEX auditorium. Credit: Joel Danielson

Dean Jonathan Levin and super{set} co-founder Tom Chavez discuss the importance of collaborative work environments and the positive impact of finding fun and joy in work for both leaders and employees. | Joel Danielson

More than 700 entrepreneurs, academics, business leaders, strategic partners, and policy makers filled CEMEX Auditorium, with hundreds more joining virtually, for the annual State of Latino Entrepreneurship (SOLE) Summit on February 16, 2023. The findings of the eighth SOLE research report, released during the summit, showed that U.S. Latinos continue to strengthen the American economy by creating employer businesses at a faster rate than white-owned businesses and have outpaced the revenue and job creation rates of white-owned businesses and American businesses at large.

The Summit was hosted by the Stanford Graduate School of Business in collaboration with the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative (SLEI) and the Latino Business Action Network (LBAN). “I’m hopeful that with the engagement of all of you here today, we can make meaningful progress and make the American business landscape more equitable for all,” said Stanford University President Marc Tessier-Lavigne during his welcoming remarks.

In his fireside chat with Stanford GSB Dean Jonathan Levin, serial entrepreneur Tom Chavez discussed the economic impact of Latino entrepreneurship on the U.S. economy and Latino communities. “There is a social, even moral, imperative to cultivate and harness the energy and potential in this room and in the larger community to create wealth for ourselves, our families, our employees, and investors.”

Dean Levin noted the large number of attendees who had completed the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Education Scaling Program, an educational collaboration between Stanford GSB Executive Education and LBAN. “We’re very proud that we’ve graduated more than 1000 entrepreneurs from this program that creates an ecosystem linking founders, mentors, and capital providers to share ideas and promote Latino business success.” During the panel discussions, a number of Latino business leaders emphasized the value of leveraging the SLEI Ed Scaling Program alumni network to build networks, gain experience and access capital.

During her presentation of the 2022 research findings, SLEI Associate Director Bárbara Gómez-Aguiñaga discussed the remarkable achievements of Latino entrepreneurs whose success is reflected in the rapid growth of new businesses. From 2007 to 2019, the number of Latino-owned businesses grew 34%, while white-owned businesses dropped by 7%. During the same period, Latino-owned businesses outpaced white-owned businesses in revenue growth rates and their annual payroll grew over twice as fast (92% vs. 42%). During the pandemic (2019 to 2022), the median growth rate in revenue for Latino-owned businesses was 25% vs. 9% for white-owned businesses.

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Photo of the audience in CEMEX for the State of Latino Entrepreneurship (SOLE) Summit on February 16, 2023. Credit: Joel Danielson

SLEI associate director Bárbara Gómez-Aguiñaga presents the findings from the 2022 SOLE research report | Joel Danielson

Gómez-Aguiñaga also detailed the systemic barriers facing many Latino business owners including access to capital and financing as well as corporate and government contracts, and pointed to the significance of research as a tool to inform data-driven policy changes. “Spotlighting the disparities between Latino and white business owners in accessing capital and government and corporate contracts provides the starting point to address these issues that prevent Latino business owners from reaching their full potential.”

The annual SOLE report is based on a national survey of more than 10,000 business owners — approximately 5,000 Latino-owned employer businesses and 5,000 non-Latino, white-owned employer businesses, which served as a benchmark comparison group.

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