By Roxana Becerril, San Diego Tribune
From being an Uber driver to becoming a business owner, Mirna Guardiola is one of the 4.65 million Latino business owners in the U.S. to prove they can achieve more than most could imagine.
As the fastest-growing segment of U.S. small businesses, Latino-owned companies are taking the lead in terms of revenue, according to Forbes late last year.
Their funding, however, not so much.
From 2020 to 2021, the funding rate for Latino-owned businesses was 34.5% in comparison to that of non-Latino-owned companies, which was 36.6%.
Luckily for Latino entrepreneurs, the Eva Longoria Foundation recently partnered with nonprofit microlender Accessity to award $10,000 worth of grants to 12 Latina-owned businesses.
Among the recipients: Guardiola’s handbag business, Mujer Brave.
A mother of three, Guardiola emigrated from Culiacán, Sinaloa, to San Diego, with beginner-level English and very little experience in accounting. After her divorce, she was motivated to provide for her family and worked as a driver for Uber and Lyft.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, and Guardiola’s driver job was put on hold, leading her to discover the Spanish-language Accessity Academy for Business Success program.
After the 10-week program, Guardiola was equipped with the necessary tools to launch her own business despite the ongoing pandemic and in June 2020, it became a reality.
She combined her entrepreneurial efforts with merchandise she sold on Facebook Marketplace and at the Swap Meet as a hobby, and she started Mujer Brave mid-pandemic.
Operating from her home in San Ysidro with merchandise from artisans in Mexico, Guardiola sells handbags online and at some in-person events. She still drives for Uber and Lyft, but now counts on her business not only as an additional stream of income but as a source of motivation for other women like her.
She says her company is meant to “inspire other women to never give up,” hence the name of her business, which translates to “brave woman.”
Giving thanks to Accessity is not enough to show appreciation for the program and support she received there, she said.
“They believed in me as a woman entrepreneur and I am very grateful,” Guardiola said. “Their support is worth more than the money I have earned.”
Guardiola will be using the $1,000 grant she received from Accessity to fund marketing and social media campaigns. According to Accessity, the grant recipients, who all graduated from its success program, were chosen based on their application and if their business is currently in operation and demonstrates “resilience, resourcefulness and growth.”
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