Making a Difference

Over the last seven years, the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has worked diligently to focus on strategic initiatives developed by the Board of Directors. The Chamber’s mission is to serve as the leading regional advocate for the economic and civic interests of the Hispanic business community. The Board of Directors is comprised of stellar community leaders, entrepreneurs and corporate executives whose focus is governance and overall vision of the Chamber. Our staff is attuned to the needs of the Chamber’s membership and of the business community, which enables us to execute our strategic initiatives on a daily basis. As a citywide resource, the Chamber has its finger on the pulse of Houston’s social and economic development activities.  Local, State and Federal leadership frequently seek out the Chamber in an effort to connect with the Houston business community.

The Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has developed several initiatives, including: Energy, Health and Supplier Diversity. These industry verticals allow the Chamber to reach a variety of Houstonians who might not otherwise have a direct connection with the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber has developed industry verticals which allow our corporate sponsors and our small business owners to interface.  Businesses in these sectors rely heavily on supply chain initiatives and benefit from a common platform provided by the Chamber.  Given the Chamber’s diverse membership, our corporate partners are able to cast a wide net to meet their procurement and supplier diversity needs.

Additionally, the Chamber is focused on local, state and national issues and we continually build strong relations with our elected officials. We invite our members to private meetings with elected officials including City, County, State Representatives and US Congress Members.

“BBVA Compass serves as a proud sponsor of the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Their ability to convene high-level decision makers is most impressive,” says Mark Montgomery, BBVA CEO and Chamber Board Member.

The Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has established a strong media presence. Through our expansive media partners, the Chamber provides relevant and timely information.  “The Chamber’s media platform is in a class of its own and is the only Chamber in the country with this extensive media platform. We are proud partners!” stated CBS Radio executive, Sarah Frazier.

Our platform includes KHOU Channel 11, CBS Radio (Sports Radio 610AM, Mega 101FM, Hot 95.7FM, The Bull 100.3FM, CBS Sports Radio 650AM and Mix 96.5FM), Univision America Radio and most recently, a local television program that airs on Univision’s sister station, UniMás. These media channels have allowed us to better serve our corporate partners, our members and the community. This extensive platform is unique to the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and has an audience reach of 3.3 million in the Greater Houston Region.

According to the US Census Bureau, the Hispanic share of the Harris County population has grown from 6% in 1960 to more than 40% in 2010. The Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Board and staff understand the important role Latinos serve. Given Houston’s growing Hispanic population, our Chamber established its Foundation in 2012

The Greater Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation and Emerging Leaders Institute, which launched in 2010  as a 501(c) (3), identifies, develops and empowers young leaders with the express purpose of expanding the education and training offered by the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.  The vision of the Greater Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation is to develop leaders who are representative of Houston’s demographic population. The four-week leadership program focuses on a variety of sessions including public speaking, professionalism, leadership and other career enhancing topics.

“I was ready to drop out of college and accept a job as a laborer. Then, I met Dr. Laura Murillo and Chamber Board Members. They recruited me into the Emerging Leaders Institute. For the first time in my life, I was surrounded by professional, educated people who looked like me. The Institute changed my life. Now, I want to complete my BA, earn a Masters and a Ph.D. thanks to the Emerging Leaders Institute,” said Nelson Ramos, University of Houston undergraduate student.

The Emerging Leaders are introduced to a variety of high-profile individuals including elected officials, entrepreneurs, executives and industry experts. “The GHHCC Foundation has introduced me to CEO’s and people who have accomplished great success. I have gained the confidence I lacked prior to my involvement with the Chamber,” said Hannah Do, second year medical student.“I particularly enjoyed the opportunity to interface with members in the program from a variety of  career spectrum including rocket scientists, lawyers, entrepreneurs, educators – to name a few,” she added.

“The price of admission into the Emerging Leaders Institute is to pay it forward,” says GHHCCF Chairman, John Esquivel, and former Shell executive.

“The more I learned about the Institute, the more I realized that I could impact the trajectory of young people’s lives. Thus, with the support of my family, I made the decision to commit $250,000 toward the Emerging Leaders Institute,” said an anonymous donor.

To date, the GHHCCF has raised $1 million from individuals, foundations and corporate partners.  Our thanks to the many individuals who have given their time, expertise and resources. Together, we are making a difference.

By Dr. Laura Murillo


Blueprint for Success

As Hispanic business goes, as goes our American economy, and this applies to Central Texas as well.  The Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GAHCC) has the distinct honor to advocate for Hispanic-owned businesses, the fastest-growing entrepreneurial segment in Central Texas and in the country.

We strongly assert that small business is big business.  In Austin, we are operating in one the strongest economies in the country.  More people are moving to Austin than any other major metropolitan area in the U.S.  Through the launch of our groundbreaking GAHCC Hispanic Business Research Study, we learned that the historic rise of the Hispanic-owned business  will continue.  Through a projection of this study, the Greater Austin area could have upwards of 50,000 Hispanic-owned businesses by 2020.

All good, right? Not entirely.

Our study revealed that an overwhelming 89.5% of Hispanic-owned businesses earn less than $500,000 in revenue with an average employee size of four (2013 data across the five-county Greater Austin area including Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson).  I proclaim that a number of these businesses are ready for growth and an increase of business capacity.  What Austin delivers is a unique, healthy and catalytic convergence of creativity, big ideas and entrepreneurship.  The GAHCC has an epic role, along with our vibrant community, to provide a blueprint for the rest of the country in balancing the extraordinary growth of our Hispanic-owned businesses with the tools necessary for sustainability and prosperity.

I was hired by a dynamic and strong GAHCC board to assist in transforming the GAHCC and to ensure delivery our mission to increase our members’ personal, business, educational and financial wealth and our vision to be the Center of Excellence for businesses and entrepreneurs in the Central Texas Hispanic market.

After fourteen months on the job, I report that we are on point.  At the core of this transformation is to “shut up and listen” to our core constituency, the Hispanic business owner.  Indeed, we are listening to our Hispanic business owners like Daniela Ariza, owner of Sweet Danny, a producer of traditional Mexican candies with an infused American taste through the incorporation of local and organic ingredients; like Nelly Garcia, a national Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree and owner of Rocheli Patisserie, an Austin bakery that specializes in novelty cakes, wedding cakes, specialty birthday cakes, edible arrangements, pastries and other baked goods; and like Rosa Santana, owner of five companies throughout Texas and Mexico and the first direct Tier-1 Latina supplier for Toyota in the history of the United States.

I mention these compelling Latina entrepreneurs, as the GAHCC has recognized Latina Entrepreneurial Excellence as one of its key themes in 2015.  In fact, Mayor Adler proclaimed March 5, 2015, as Latina Entrepreneurial Excellence Day in Austin at the 2015 GAHCC Capital of Texas Awards.

What these three Hispanic business owners seek is qualitative, authentic and substantive business-capacity building opportunities, such as the GAHCC partnering with Visa to launch its 20-city tour to educate small businesses and consumers about payment card chip technology on March 13, 2015 at Austin City Hall Council Chambers.

Today our entrepreneurs are operating in the tempest of what I refer to as the information-overload era.  Consumer fraud protection, mitigation of business risks and the proverbial embrace of evolving technology are dynamic and robust forces which our entrepreneurs meet head-on with courage.  Simultaneously, they are looking to the GAHCC to provide solutions to augment operations and the bottom line.

Accordingly, the GAHCC welcomed Visa to Austin to launch its national chip card tour.  This inaugural initiative garnered nationwide acclaim, as the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) joined the GAHCC Board and Staff for this innovative entrepreneurial showcase.  Kim Lawrence, Senior Vice President of Corporate Initiatives at Visa spearheaded an expert panel that included the 2014 Hispanic Business of the Year, German Ustariz, Owner/Operator (along with his wife Delmy) of McDonald’s.  Lawrence reinforced to small business owners the criticality of understanding how chip technology works and what it means to the protection of their business and the data of their customers.  Additionally, the GAHCC introduced the online Visa chip business toolkit to our members.  This interactive, online toolkit is packed with information to assist businesses make a seamless transition to accept chip cards.

Javier Palomarez, President and CEO of the USHCC remarked that Visa’s chip card tour campaign is illustrative of solutions generated for small businesses running smoothly and protecting customers particularly in the digital age.

At the end of the day, we succeeded in our efforts at the GAHCC to bridge the top business concerns of Hispanic business owners with solutions.  In this case, with the support of Visa, we educated our region’s small business owners on the role chip plays in a multi-layered approach to securing the payment ecosystem.

Con ganas to support and encourage the heartbeat of our economy, small business!

By Mark Madrid