Arizona Hispanic chamber provides resources, support for budding businesses

Blush Boutique is one of many local Latino-owned businesses that are also members of the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. (Photo courtesy of Aaron Tyler with Blush Boutique)

By Katelyn Kondrath

The number of Hispanic-owned businesses in Arizona is booming. With this growth, businesses are turning to the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for resources and networking opportunities.

According to the 2015 DATOS report, the number of Hispanic-owned businesses in Arizona rose 70 percent, from 52,667 to 89,673, between 2007 and 2012.

Despite this growth, AZHCC director of communications and public policy James Garcia said more education is needed in Latino communities. Garcia would like to see more programs like the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA) program, which teaches high school students how to start and run their own businesses.

The AZ Minority Business Report in 2012 found the three biggest struggles facing minority-owned businesses are finances, discrimination/being taken seriously, and finding customers, contracts and marketing.

But many Hispanic business owners are still taking the plunge.

“My wife works as a software developer, and I have a marketing background,” said Carlos Tarazon, a business owner and member of AZHCC. “I was motivated to find something that was a little bit more self-directed, controlled and little bit more adventurous, and even entrepreneurial.”

Carlos and his wife Elizabeth started their business, TapSnap 1173, just shy of one year ago. A franchise branch from a Vancouver company, TapSnap defines itself as “phototainment,” combining entertainment with commemorative photos that are also shared on social media.

After attending their first business bootcamp through the AZHCC they earned a free promotion through a business-card drawing and have also received business through the chamber’s promotional events.

“It’s important to find something you have a passion for, something that gets you out of bed in the morning,” Tarazon said. “Networking, meeting people in businesses, [and] helping people to promote other businesses are very much a part of what I consider to be some of our early success.”

According to Angie Amarillas Mortemore, AZHCC director of business development and president of Prospanica, there are four core areas its members seek help in the most: business basics, technology, financial wellness and certification as a minority-owned business. “Access to capital is a big issue,” Mortemore said. Businesses “may not have the funds for equipment or expansions. We partner with Women’s Business Center(s), minority certification groups and banks to help with that.”

AZHCC offers members lead generation — listing the member businesses on its site and mobile directory — as well as networking, marketing and media outreach, and business and professional development. In addition to its member base, the AZHCC offers nonmember attendance to a majority of its business-building events.

The AZHCC was incorporated in 1976, nearly 30 years after it was founded. By 1991, it established programs funded through its non-profit foundation to support business and economic development efforts. Today, AZHCC serves numerous members in over 140 different service categories.

“The Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has been like a big brother to me,” said Rosa Cardenas, owner of Blush Boutique and fashion reporter for AZLatinos.com. “The best thing I felt for me was to look and do my research through them before opening my business.”

Before branching out on her own, Cardenas grew up working in her parents’ fabric business in Arizona, which opened in 1982. Expressing her love for patterns and color, she later pursued an education in interior design at Arizona State University.

Cardenas opened Blush in April 2014, and her business ventures have continued to grow since. She opened a male counterpart to the boutique, offers salon and makeup services and is preparing to launch a clothing line under the same name as her foundation, Valentina Rose, which helps families deal this the loss of a child.

“Entrepreneurship is a very scary thing,” Cardenas said. “It’s very swim or sink. When it gets the hardest is when you have to push through the adversity and it does get better. That’s the fun part of business, the ups and the downs and the learning everything.”

The Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is always welcoming new businesses to become members and holds orientations and business bootcamps every other month. To view the various events and opportunities AZHCC has to offer local Hispanic and Latino businesses, you can refer to the map below or visit www.azhcc.com for more information.

AZHCC 2016 Networking and Signature Events

One of the benefits of the chamber outlined by Mortemore is the networking and community events they sponsor, topping at approximately 60 events annually. The events are typically open to the public and are free to members. The chamber is scheduled to host more than 15 events before the end of the year.

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