Latina entrepreneurs are thriving in Philadelphia

Maria Cristina Rios

This month, Women’s Heritage Month, we celebrate the growing number of females who choose entrepreneurship as their path for wealth creation. Entrepreneurship provides them flexibility, autonomy, and control over their careers. Forty percent of US businesses are women-owned, and last year, women started 1,800 businesses per day. If we take a closer look at the statistics, 64% of these new businesses were started by women of color.

While women owned businesses are on the rise, these business owners face systemic barriers to growth. Women owned businesses receive only 2% of venture capital, an unfortunate statistic that must be addressed. Other challenges include a lack of mentors and advisers, lacking confidence to apply for financing, and not being taken seriously.

Women entrepreneurs can overcome these obstacles through affiliation to business support organizations that provide business education programs and networking opportunities. At the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, aspiring entrepreneurs and established business owners can enroll in education programs and participate in and a myriad of events designed to help their businesses scale.

Meet five Latina entrepreneurs among the graduates of small business education programs at GPHCC:

Jenee Chizick-Aguero

Jenee Chizick-Aguero, Founder and Publisher of Motivos

Motivos is an international youth empowerment company which publishes Motivos magazine, conducts motivational workshops, media training and runs a media program for teens. Motivos Magazine is a bilingual publication generated by teens and boasts subscribers in 42 states and 4 countries.

Jessie Garcia

Jessie Garcia, Founder and CEO of Tozuda

In Spanish, “tozuda” means hard-headed, and was an endearing nickname Jessie’s grandmother used for her. Tozuda designs, manufactures, and sells head impact sensors for concussion awareness. The origin of the company can be traced to an undiagnosed concussion Jessie suffered while playing rugby in college, which sidelined her for months. The sensors she manufactures are affordable and can be attached to the back of helmets to alert the wearer of potential head injuries when the indicator turns red.

Maria Cristina Rios, Owner of Rios Marketing

Having worked at Fortune 500 companies with considerable national footprints, Maria Cristina brings a wealth of experience to her consultancy. She helps businesses achieve success by developing data-driven, measurable marketing & communication plans to increase sales, drive traffic and build brand affinity. In addition, Rios Marketing helps established firm see the value in the Hispanic consumer market as the next level of growth for their company by developing Hispanic marketing plans.

Jennifer Hardy

Jennifer Hardy, Gomez Law Group

Gomez Law Group is a boutique firm specializing in personal injury and medical malpractice law throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Led by Jennifer Hardy, a litigator with top firm experience, the firm provides clear direction when life takes an unexpected turn. The secret behind her success is her energy and desire to practice law with a deep conviction for justice; her compassion and ability to relate to people across economic, racial, and religious backgrounds; and her relentless work ethic and commitment to fiercely advocate for her clients.

Carolina Pena

Carolina Pena, Principal of Parallel Architecture Studio

Parallel’s approach to architecture keeps people at the center of the work. It’s a key tenet of design thinking, and even as their methods evolve in response to new, complex challenges, they always design solutions for people first. Carolina’s team provides architectural services for multi-family and mixed-use developments, including senior facilities, and retail and commercial buildings. The firm also works in the adaptation and restoration of historic buildings.

Learn more about the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce programs at