At a time when the nation’s headline unemployment rate sits near an all-time low, firms with fewer than 20 employees experienced the largest growth in job opportunities, according to a report from the U.S. Small Business Administration. Just shy of half of the private workforce in the nation works for small businesses — that’s almost 60 million people.

Not only are there great job opportunities, but great entrepreneurship opportunities as well.

Businesses need funding, though. The Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council estimates U.S. lending institutions issued 6.1 million loans under $100,000 at a time when the number of banks is decreasing. So, where else can startups turn to? Financial services executive, entrepreneur, consultant, and author Dr. Betty Uribe recommends that they look to their communities.

Dr. Betty Uribe (Photo: Dr. Betty Uribe)

“We have an opportunity to really impact the community and don’t just say, ‘I’m going to get my own business, and then once I’ve got my own business, I got mine,'” Uribe says. “My invitation: change that trajectory and reach out to other people that are like-minded. Help one another.”

Uribe is passionate about helping new business owners. She experienced first-hand the obstacles an entrepreneur can face. When her company grew faster than expected and she needed money to re-invest, she learned that despite her organization’s early success, she didn’t have a business plan and the financial history to get a loan.

She says she realized that in addition to money, knowledge, resources, and support are also needed. While there are nonprofits and think-tanks that explore this notion, Uribe is dedicated to providing the assistance she didn’t have when she got started.

She began her mission while serving as an executive at California Bank and Trust.

“I set aside half a billion dollars for women-owned businesses and minority-owned businesses, and we started an initiative called TEAM (Tools, Education, Access to capital and Mentoring). I teamed up with 11 nonprofits in California that would be able to partner up with (the bank),” she explains to WorkingNation.

“Most business owners don’t have the education. We were able to not only provide what the business owner needed at the time but provided it through people who are experts in that topic,” she says.

Uribe’s advocacy extends internationally. She has worked with women in Kenya and Nicaragua, where the challenges of female entrepreneurship extend beyond money matters. Changing cultural norms is the obstacle to overcome first.

“If you can imagine a young lady of the age of 15 coming of age and the father wanting to have a circumcision party for his daughter. His daughter wants to get educated and go to school and has to escape the morning of her big party,” recalls Uribe. With her mother’s help, the young woman goes to the local school and asks to enroll. They had to get the father’s permission, which they finally attained.

Uribe supports financial scholarships for educational opportunities that have led to startups. “I got to meet this young lady, and this is one of the scholarships that we’ve given. She’s now in college and has gone back to her village and taught her father how to grow vegetables. And he now is the biggest grower and now he’s proud of his daughter.”

Whether championing equal rights to education, family leave, upskilling, and financial resources, Uribe says everyone can support small businesses and startups. Share your knowledge, your expertise, and your network. As a Latina, she believes in the sentiment, “It takes a village,” and encourages her community to be a resource.

“You cannot do it alone. And if you do it alone, you’re going to have a tiny little business and it’s not going to grow and you’re not going to flourish. The history or the trajectory of the generations to come, it’s just not going to happen. You’re not going to reach your dreams,” she says.

“There are people who have gone to really big heights in their success and it’s going to take for those people to reach back and to help one another. With the Latino population, we need to get together, we need to form alliances and allegiances between one another, and really support each other and understand that we’re stronger together.”

WorkingNation is hosting a panel on Empowering Latinas Through Education and Entrepreneurship at SxSW EDU 2020 on March 11. Dr. Betty Uribe will be among the panelists.

Read more about all our panels and podcasts coming up at SXSW EDU here.

We’ll be sharing highlights of the sessions in the coming weeks here at WorkingNation.com.

Related Articles:

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Latino entrepreneurs are growing in number

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Startups are driving job growth in the new economy

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