The Center for Hispanic Entrepreneurship (CFHE) housed in the College of Business Administration (COBA) at The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) has partnered with the City of El Paso City Accelerator to help expand minority businesses by removing common barriers to markets, contracts, capital, education and consulting.
In 2018, the City of El Paso received a $100,000 Living Cities grant funded by the Citi Foundation to build a support system for small businesses with the help of local business organizations including the Center for Hispanic Entrepreneurship.
“Accelerate El Paso provided us with a great opportunity to gather insights about our local minority businesses and to look at our current entrepreneurship infrastructure,” said Denisse Olivas, director of the Center for Hispanic Entrepreneurship at UTEP. “We hope that our findings can help organizations better serve our local entrepreneurs.”
Other partners include the Small Business Development Center (El Paso Community College), Workforce Solutions Borderplex, El Paso Chamber, El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Hub of Human Innovation and the El Paso County Economic Development Office.
The local partners developed the design of the accelerator to begin to map an ecosystem that supported minorities in all phases of their business, including starting, continuing and scaling up. The program was developed to offer training, events and guidance through one-on-one consulting through the specialization of each of the local partners. The program’s end goal encouraged the formation of a central location for small businesses to find guidance on topics such as how to start a business, how to fund a venture, best accounting practices, networking opportunities, access to government contracting, marketing, communication, leadership and employee training.
The program, called Accelerate El Paso or Accelerate EP, recruited 70 small- to medium-sized minority businesses to participate as a cohort through a one-year program.
The CFHE contributed by providing a research template and guidance, disseminating the survey, analyzing the data and writing the final paper submitted to Living Cities, which is now available as a download.
“This was a very exciting project for us because, through the development of a cross-functional team consisting of multiple City of El Paso departments, we were able to put together a plan to consolidate efforts and ensure business access to high quality resources,” said Aimee Olivas, socioeconomic compliance officer for the City of El Paso.
Key findings include:
- 78% of businesses in El Paso are minority owned.
- Major industries include services, retail, financial and real estate.
- Top training needs include accounting and marketing.
- Acquiring capital to start or grow a business is a major challenge.
- There is a lack of awareness of local resources.
- There is a need for networking and mentorship.
For more information on the Center for Hispanic Entrepreneurship at UTEP and to download the full report, click here.
Author: Darlene Barajas – UTEP Communications