CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Women are on the rise when it comes to owning businesses in Charlotte, particularly when it comes to businesses that invest back into their communities. Now, a Charlotte program is seeking solutions to make sure Hispanic and Latina entrepreneurs have the appropriate resources to ensure their businesses thrive.
Sil Ganzó founded Our Bridge for Kids in 2014. The Charlotte-based organization helps refugee and immigrant children learn everything from English to STEAM, as well as skills to cope with new social expectations.
"I saw a huge gap of services for newly arrived families that send their kids to school shortly after arriving in the United States but there wasn't any support after school," Ganzó said.
She was willing to take a risk to give back to a community in need. Fast forward to now, and Ganzó will tell you she's light years ahead of knowing what it means to turn a passion into an actual business.
“At the time I did not have any experience with entrepreneurship or team building or business management and I basically taught myself to start a 501c3," Ganzó said.
Last year, Ganzó was one of 20 women who enrolled in Charlotte’s first Hispanic-Latina cohort with The Bank of America Institute for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Cornell University.
“This 12-week program is really focused on providing women of color, specifically Hispanic, Latino as well as Black African American women an opportunity to learn how to grow manage and expand their business and it's been tremendously successful," President of Bank of America Charlotte Keith Cockrell said.
Since launching in 2018, the program has enrolled more than 30,000 women globally with 86% identifying as women of color.
Those enrolled included hospitality, restaurant business owners, nonprofit founders, construction business leaders and artists.
Cockrell said the mentorship from Cornell professors and seasoned women entrepreneurs through the online course will only help fuel small businesses in the Hispanic-Latina economy.
“Charlotte is no exception to that," Cockrell said. "There’s been a tremendous growth in the Hispanic-Latina population here and business growth and we have been working with Cornell University on separate women initiatives and we just felt the timing was right to bring this to Charlotte."
Ganzó said by taking the program she’s been able to learn copywriting, trademarking and other legalities that help her make better decisions. Through the program, she is also finding new ways to bring in revenue that goes back into her organization.
“If you are a woman that comes from another country, you have to know how the system works because we are powerful and we can make it happen we just need the accessibility and the knowledge to do it," Ganzó said.
Charlotte’s second cohort has already started but program leaders say it is just the beginning of bridging the gap between women of color seeing successful business owners to becoming one.
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