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Center for Hispanic Entrepreneurship with of Dr. Frankwick, Denisse Olivas and Carla Villaverde at the COB Building, Friday, July 8, 2016, in El Paso, Texas. Photo by Ivan Pierre Aguirre/UTEP Communications

UTEP Research Benefits Hispanic Business Owners

A study by The University of Texas at El Paso uncovered some insights that may help the thousands of Hispanic business owners in the El Paso metroplex succeed.

The research, done by UTEP’s Center for Hispanic Entrepreneurship (CHE) in collaboration with the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, gave a snapshot of the needs among the region’s Hispanic business owners and areas where the chamber could offer more support.

Denisse Olivas, director of UTEP’s Center for Hispanic Entrepreneurship, discussed the center’s recent research into success factors among Hispanic-owned businesses with Gary Frankwick, Ph.D., professor of marketing, and Carla Villaverde, a 2015 UTEP graduate. Frankwick and Villaverde assisted with the research.

It showed a desire by business owners for more courses, workshops and networking opportunities. At the same time, the study showed that business owners were unaware of the chamber’s resources, did not recognize their value, and did not understand how their participation was in their best interest.

A paper based on the UTEP study, “Understanding Hispanic Entrepreneurial Success: An Exploratory Study,” was accepted for publication in August 2016 by the Journal of Business Diversity, a national peer-reviewed academic periodical.

Among the study’s interesting findings were that Hispanic women business owners tend to stay as members of the Hispanic chamber a minimum of five years and tend to enter the retail and restaurant fields. Hispanic men who own businesses lean toward construction and financial services.

Denisse Olivas, CHE director, co-researcher and a UTEP marketing lecturer, said the data also provided insights into how the chamber could more efficiently cater to the needs of its members to help them be successful. As a result of the study, the chamber hired three additional marketing specialists to better inform and serve their members, Olivas said.

The research is a valuable tool because it is hard to start a business in general, and it does not help if the prospective business owner does not do their due diligence, said Norma A. Mendoza, Ph.D., president and CEO of El Paso-based MerKadoTeknia Research & Consulting LLC.

Mendoza, who earned bachelor’s degrees in psychology and mass communication from UTEP in 1992 and her doctorate in consumer behavior from the University of Florida, said she reached out to the different agencies to learn what she could before launching her company.

“I wanted to figure out what was needed,” Mendoza said. “Even with a business degree, I found the path difficult to navigate at times.”

The business owner lauded CHE’s initial research and was glad to hear that the center planned to do additional work that would benefit Hispanic business owners. She said El Paso is full of ambitious people with a strong entrepreneurial spirit, but some are impatient and follow their dreams without finding the right product, the right location and the right price point. Mendoza said CHE’s research offers the necessary information to enhance their chances for success.

Olivas hired five undergraduate business students who majored in finance, marketing and computer information systems to help with the initial study. It took them about 18 months to complete the database. Among the student assistants was Carla Villaverde, who earned her bachelor’s degree in marketing and international business in 2015.

Today Villaverde is a marketing automation manager with Global Training Center in West El Paso. Part of her job is to provide training and education services, to include trade regulations, to clients from industries around the world. The Juárez, Mexico, native said her two years with CHE provided many opportunities to learn about surveys, data collection, marketing, advertising and networking with professionals.

“I was able to do and learn so much,” Villaverde said, later adding that the key was being a good listener. “With the database and research, I learned a lot about Hispanic businesses, entrepreneurship, leadership and success.”

The center is preparing to start the next phase of its research, which will include sending out some questionnaires in late July 2016 to Hispanic-owned businesses to learn about perception, motivation, innovation, determination and confidence. Some of the sub-categories touch on ethics and community involvement.

Gary Frankwick, Ph.D., the Marcus Jonathan Hunt Chair in International Business, is helping the CHE with this new project. He said the research could go beyond factors of success to how Hispanic entrepreneurs are different from their white peers or other minorities.

“It will be interesting to see what happens,” said Frankwick, who also is associate dean of the College of Business Administration and professor of marketing. He said the survey results will be analyzed during the fall 2016 semester.

Author: Daniel Perez – UTEP Communications

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