From Cultural Roots to Economic Influence: The Rise of 'Latina-Owned' Businesses in the U.S.

Latina woman focused on her work projects

You might have come across the descriptor “Latina-owned,” but have you taken a moment to truly grasp the profound meaning behind these two words? This form of self-identification is gaining momentum, symbolizing a powerful and continuously expanding Latina-led movement.

The label "Latina-owned" signifies a unique intersection of gender, ethnicity, and culture, shaping a distinctive identity within the entrepreneurial landscape. It goes beyond a simple ownership tag, blending economic and social realities.

In a landscape historically dominated by men, being "Latina-owned" challenges traditional gender norms and underscores the dynamic role played by women in steering businesses and the U.S. economy toward success. It’s not widely known that Latina-owned businesses are growing the fastest among all women. Latina-owned businesses grew 164% from 2007 to 2018, which is almost three times more than the growth of women-owned businesses overall.

Latinas also come in as the second-largest group of female workers in the United States, with a total of 12.8 million Latinas in the labor force. This makes them just over 17% of the overall female workforce.

The label also grounds itself on the diversity of Latine heritage - with roots in different Latine American cultures, each with its own set of traditions. This cultural backdrop not only adds a unique flavor to the business but also establishes a connection with consumers seeking diversity in their choices and supporting businesses with authentic cultural roots.

Culturally, the "Latina-owned" label transcends mere ownership status. It’s a symbol of community, shared experiences, and empowerment. It reflects a commitment to preserving and celebrating cultural values in business practices, whether it be through products, services, or workplace environments. This cultural infusion not only distinguishes Latina-owned businesses but also fosters a sense of pride and identity among the entrepreneurs and their customers alike.

Latina women are excelling in every way – creating jobs, sparking innovation, and tuning into what U.S. consumers of all backgrounds want.

This trend also serves to lift up Latina women, giving them the spotlight they deserve and giving them the inspiration and experience to grow into leadership roles. More Latina entrepreneurs are making their mark and bringing a whole new level of representation to the table.

The path to success for Latina entrepreneurs is inherently challenging and marked by a complex interplay of racial and gender biases, including a persistent wage gap that disproportionately affects many Latina women. Moreover, limited networking, mentorship opportunities, and a constant struggle for access to loans and investments further compound these challenges. Venture capital investments have been dismal for years, with less than a half-percent of billions of dollars of capital going to Latina-led start-ups.

Foreign-born Latina entrepreneurs, in particular, face an uphill battle with challenges like language barriers and limited access to information. Providing language support, along with greater accessibility to entrepreneurial resources, can significantly help these Latina women more effectively navigate the intricate landscape of entrepreneurship.

Actively acknowledging, supporting, and investing in Latina-owned businesses is a necessary step in building true Latino economic influence and power. As the label continues to gain recognition, it becomes not just a marker of ownership but a catalyst for conversations and action around inclusion, representation, and the evolving narrative of Latina identity.

Graphic design that features an illustration of Doña Marina, La Maliche.

La Malinche is one of the most well-known historical figures and representatives of indigenous women in Mexico. Also known as Maltintzin, Malinalli, or Doña Marina (as the Spanish called her), she was known as Hernán Cortés’s translator during the Spanish conquest. As a result, La Malinche has been perceived as a traitor to her own people, something that has been memorialized in Mexican slang. Being called a “malinchista” is the same as being called disloyal or a traitor to one’s country and culture.

Keep ReadingShow less
Candelabras adorned with religious motifs, casting a warm glow from flickering candles.

I often wondered how my abuelita could be so religious, praying all the time and never missing a Sunday at church. Yet there she was, sticking a knife in the ground whenever storm clouds rolled in, thinking it would "shoo the rain away." She'd give me the side-eye for my magic wand tattoo and believing in the power of manifestation, but would be the first to blame trickster “chaneques” when stuff went missing, and hang ceramic sheep on the door to supposedly "bring in the cash."

When I was younger, I found it to be somewhat hypocritical of her. Now, I just think it’s funny and sort of beautiful how our ancestors and surroundings have shaped our beliefs in such unique ways.

Keep ReadingShow less
Hands prepare Huitlacoche tortilla; background features clay bowl of Huitlacoche mushrooms, showcasing Mexican culinary tradition.

You may have heard it called "corn smut," and the name might not evoke the most appetizing image. However, in many cultures, particularly in Mexico, it's known as "huitlacoche" (pronounced wee-tlah-KOH-chay) and is considered a culinary delicacy. This fungus, which infects corn, transforms the kernels into dark, mushroom-like galls.

Keep ReadingShow less