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Monica Olivera shares resources for Hispanic families homeschooling post-pandemic

Monica Olivera is an author, a freelance education writer/materials creator, and founder of the educational resources site MommyMaestra.com where she focuses on resources for Hispanic homeschoolers, bilingual educators, and parents who simply want to be more involved in their children’s education. 

She has been writing about education for the last decade with a special emphasis on education for Hispanic families and bilingual education. Her articles have appeared on sites such as NBC.com, PBS Parents, and Woo! Jr. 

Hispanic heritage, homeschooling, and building a business 

Homeschooling has been a popular topic in the past year since the Covid-19 pandemic swept the globe and schools shut down long-term. Virtual learning became a divisive topic, with many parents expressing frustration with homeschooling while other parents readily embraced the change. 

According to a recent article from the Washington Post, the percentage of children in homeschooling has nearly tripled since mid-2019. The U.S. Census Bureau found that as of May 2021, more than 1 out of every 12 students is being homeschooled. 

Monica Olivera, author, a freelance education writer/materials creator, and founder of MommyMaestra.com (Photo courtesy Monica Olivera)

For Monica, her journey in the world of homeschooling began long before the pandemic, nearly a decade ago. Her choice to homeschool her young children was spurred by her desire to share her Hispanic heritage with her children and give them a culturally diverse curriculum that public schools were lacking. 

After moving to a small farming community away from family, Monica wished to nurture her children’s knowledge of Hispanic heritage and culture but struggled to find resources. She never planned to homeschool her children, but living in a failed school district where the state had closed one school and taken over the other, homeschooling seemed like the only option available. 

“I was terrified,” Monica said. “But I quickly grew to love it and realized that it provided the perfect opportunity to teach my kids about their heritage.” 

When searching for resources for Hispanic homeschoolers online proved to be difficult, Monica decided to start her own blog as a way to share what she was finding with other Hispanic homeschooling families. Soon, she began creating her own downloadable materials and her unexpected business took off.

“The cultural experiences of my childhood completely shaped my business. I wanted to pass on my heritage to my own children, and that passion grew until I one day realized that I didn’t want a great education with an emphasis on heritage just for my kids, but for all Hispanic children,” said Monica. 

Over the years, Monica has expanded her knowledge and appreciation beyond her own Spanish Mexican American heritage to encompass all Hispanic cultures and share the beauty of Hispanic heritage with a greater audience. 

“I love learning about and creating materials about other Spanish-speaking countries and cultures,” she said. “Helping children learn about and embrace their family’s heritage benefits everyone. Teaching non-Hispanic children about the culture also nurtures appreciation and breaks down stereotypes.”

MommyMaestra.com provides hundreds of resources for Hispanic homeschooling families.

Why homeschooling increased during the pandemic 

For parents who have recently embraced homeschooling due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there are a variety of factors that led to their choice, the pandemic of course being the most prominent one. 

However, while homeschooling has been most commonly found among White, religious families in the past, the recent increase in homeschooling has been seen among Black, Latino, and Asian families. For Black and Latino students, the homeschooling rate of increase has been dramatic. Between 2019 and May 2021 the homeschooling rate went from 1 percent to 8 percent for Black students and from 2 percent to 9 percent for Hispanic students, the Washington Post reported. 

This jump was influenced by more than just the pandemic. Other factors such as racism, discrimination, and a lack of cultural diversity in school curriculums influenced parents in their decision to homeschool their children full-time. 

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Many parents, like Monica, were inspired to use homeschooling as an opportunity to teach their children about their culture and heritage and provide them with a less biased curriculum. For many, the pandemic was simply the catalyst they needed to take the plunge into homeschooling. 

The Latino Family’s Guide to Homeschooling is a comprehensive guide to help families get started on their homeschooling journeys. (Photo courtesy Monica Olivera)

“I wrote my first book – The Latino Family’s Guide to Homeschooling – completely unaware that a pandemic was coming,” Monica shared. “When Covid hit, Hispanic families began flocking to homeschooling, especially when they realized that it was an opportunity to nurture their children’s bilingualism.” 

Monica’s book and printable downloads of reading passages, games, and activities that feature Hispanic figures, holidays, and traditions have been sought after by families across the country. 

Creating a community for Hispanic homeschooling families 

As more and more families embark on their homeschooling journeys, Monica’s resources continue to provide Hispanic families with the necessary tools to navigate homeschooling with ease. 

It’s never too early to start homeschooling. This guide helps caregivers homeschool the youngest of students. (Photo courtesy Monica Olivera)

For Monica, each of her own successes in her business means children across the country are learning to appreciate the beauty of Hispanic cultures and to be proud of their heritage. 

“I know that by helping parents help their kids, I’m helping individuals and families succeed and be happy,” she said. 

“I think what I love most about my business is reading the testimonials/reviews made by people who use my education materials. I also love hearing from parents and educators who write to me asking for help or guidance to find materials or asking where to start with homeschooling. I’m especially proud of the active Hispanic & Bilingual Homeschoolers group that I started on Facebook. There are so many great parents helping each other in that group.” 

When Monica started out, she was alone searching for resources to help teach her children. Now, a decade later, Monica has built a community for Hispanic homeschooling families to share and grow. 

For those who are at the beginning of their own journeys as homeschooling parents or entrepreneurs, Monica encourages that you continue to persist. 

“It’s okay to get discouraged from time to time. And you will most likely have days that you consider giving up. But if you believe in yourself and what you can do – especially if others try to convince you otherwise – you can achieve greatness. Always be honest and always help others. It will come back to you in abundance.”

Learn how Hispanic businesses are pivoting post-pandemic in today’s SBA virtual event

Join the SBA today, October 14 , 2021 from 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM EDT to learn how Hispanic businesses are pivoting post-pandemic. 

Hispanic Heritage Month is a time dedicated each year to celebrating the successes and accomplishments of Hispanic individuals. As the fastest growing population in the U.S., the Hispanic population is a powerhouse with the ability to shape our nation’s future economy and market.

Along with the population, Latino small businesses are growing too. The 2020 State of Latino Entrepreneurship Report revealed that the number of Latino-owned businesses has grown 34% over the last 10 years compared to just 1% for all other small businesses.

Today, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with virtual event: Testimonies of Excellence & Pride (Excelencia y Orgullo).The event will celebrate the accomplishments of Hispanic business owners as they share their stories of facing adversity and challenges on their way to success. 

Beginning at noon, the event will open with a panel discussion where SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman will lead a discussion with Hispanic business owners to hear how they have successfully pivoted and adapted throughout the pandemic. Panelists will share truths of how they have overcome challenges, and how they face this adversity with “grit and ganas (a drive to succeed)”. Following this discussion, SBA Associate Administrators Bibi Hidalgo and Mark Madrid will have a candid talk with Hispanic business leader Ana Valdez, executive president of The Latino Donor Collaborative, about the state of Hispanic entrepreneurship in the United States.

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and learn how Hispanic businesses are pivoting post-pandemic. (Photo credit: SBA)

Register Now: Testimonies of Excellence & Pride (Excelencia y Orgullo)Today October 14, 2021 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM EDT

 “Over the past 18 months, our nation’s 32 million small businesses and innovative startups have faced unprecedented adversity and shown incredible resilience. However, Latinx entrepreneurs -– despite starting businesses faster than at any other time in our history –continue to struggle because of historic inequities and persistent barriers to the capital, networks, and markets they need to sustain and grow their businesses. As a former entrepreneur myself, I understand what a difference we can make by building equity, breaking down barriers, and bringing new investments and opportunities to historically underserved communities,” said  SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman in a press release. “As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, let us continue to embrace the extraordinary entrepreneurial spirit and rising achievement of America’s Latinx communities and the innovative spark they bring to countless industrial centers, innovation hubs, and Main Streets by helping them start, grow and thrive.”

About the U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow or expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit www.sba.gov.

Sisters Hilda and Sarah Perez Jarrett challenge the status quo as Latina entrepreneurs

Hilda Perez and Sarah Perez Jarrett are the COO and CEO, respectively, of SALUD. Founded in 1991 by their father, Dr. José Rigoberto Pérez Díaz, SALUD has made all-natural, high quality health and wellness products for over 25 years. Today, the two Dominican sisters are continuing to grow and expand the company, challenging the status quo, and crafting their own American Dream through entrepreneurship. 

Latina sisters challenge the status quo 

SALUD grew from humble roots, beginning as a small, Latino-focused mail-order company catering to the greater New York City area via a health food store and nutritional consulting practice. 

Hilda and Sarah’s father started the business with a passion to help his community with traditional knowledge to treat many common ailments. Today, his mission continues: to make natural health accessible to everyone. 

“When we first joined the team, we had the opportunity to expand our father’s dream by launching community health events with local partners and fine tuning our product line,” said Hilda and Sarah. “We also expanded our reach by bringing the small brick and mortar store to the digital and ecommerce age.” 

As Latinas, joining the world of entrepreneurship and business was “no easy task” they said. The sisters struggled at first to find their footing. It took a lot of “grit, empathy, hustle and heart,” but soon they found their way and began carving their own path. Like many women in business, they also faced sexism from colleagues and vendors who doubted their skill and expertise. 

“As a legacy business, we had to learn to grow outside our father’s shadow. Therefore, one of the biggest struggles has been commanding respect from our father’s colleagues or business vendors,” the sisters shared. 

“Dr. José Rigoberto Pérez Díaz is well-loved and respected in our community. He was extremely supportive when we became co-owners of the business. However, we undoubtedly faced  sexism and disrespect from his colleagues or vendors who were used to working with a man instead of two young women.” 

To overcome this challenge, the sisters had to be savvy in navigating relationships and strong willed when commanding respect as they pushed the company’s vision forward. Together, they jumped over every hurdle, receiving support from their father and supporting each other along the way. 

“As a legacy business, we had to learn to grow outside our father’s shadow.” (Photo courtesy SALUD).

Another struggle they faced was creating change within the company. As young women, they knew that to compete with their peers and create a larger impact, the company would need to bring their operations and services to the digital world. Many members at the time were hesitant of this change, scared to shake the status quo and set out on an unfamiliar path. The change would not be easy, either. 

“To make it even more challenging, we had to do this with very little knowledge and resources at the time. It required an immense amount of patience, communication, and professional development,” said the sisters. 

However, Hilda and Sarah were determined to push the business forward and expand its reach beyond the status quo. They joined business roundtables, went back to business school, and participated in certificate programs at Stanford University and Columbia University. They did everything they could to better themselves and deliver the best for their business because they were filled with a passion to grow and make a greater impact. 

“We are happy to say that our company has grown significantly by committing to grow ourselves as owners. We did that by being curious and not being afraid to ask for help. When a challenge came up, we made sure to learn about it, or find the help we needed to tackle it. We believe that curiosity and commitment are a big part of being business owners”

You might be interested: Hilda Mera: “I could break with stereotypes and be a role model for my community”

Finding strength in teamwork and community 

Sarah Perez Jarrett, CEO and Vice President of SALUD. (Photo courtesy SALUD)

Working together, not just between themselves, but with their team, has been one of their greatest strengths as minority business owners. Many entrepreneurs try to go it alone or take on too much, leading to burnout. But Hilda and Sarah know there is strength in teamwork. They believe in creating a team that believes in the greater vision of the company. Their team has become a family. 

“We have team members that have been with us for over 15 years. From celebrating weddings and quinceaneras to welcoming new additions to families. We persevered through recessions, pandemics and mourned deaths together. Despite these adversaries, our core team has remained intact and has remained flexible. We all have enjoyed the entrepreneurial roller coaster.” 

As every Latino knows, community is everything. Community is family. And SALUD’s family extends beyond its team to their loyal community of customers. In 2017, during one of their most difficult times as entrepreneurs, Hilda and Sarah saw just how much their customers valued SALUD. 

“We had a major opportunity to pilot our products with a national retailer. However, our supplier at the time was being difficult and did not want to offer the necessary insurances we needed to proceed with the contract. We then had to move to another lab. When the former supplier was informed, he got so angry at losing out on the contract, he refused to make any of our products! We were in complete shock. Within weeks we no longer had inventory. We were a retail business, with no products to retail. It was a threat to the survival of our business, and above all, for our team and clients that depended on our health products,” the sisters shared. 

Hilda Perez, COO and Vice President of SALUD. (Photo courtesy SALUD)

This dark time seemed hopeless at first. They worried that they would lose their entire client-base and feared what would happen to their business. However, they soon learned one of their biggest lessons. They chose to be transparent with their customers, informing them that the company was moving labs and that it would take months for products to arrive. 

“To our incredible surprise they understood and kept on buying products on pre-order! This was a lifeline and a testament to the loyalty we had with our customers. We learned that transparency is critical and when you have a quality product and strong team, your customers will support you in your hardest moments. That was one key moment that made us know what we have is special; it was poised to grow.” 

Their journey as Latina entrepreneurs has been full of highs and lows, but seeing the impact of their work, challenging the status quo, and watching their company grow has been worth it. 

“Being an entrepreneur is difficult, we won’t sugarcoat it. There are weeks when you don’t know if bills will get paid, if suppliers will pull out of deals. On the opposite side of the spectrum, you also find yourself celebrating an employee who was able to buy their first home thanks to your support. If you have a real passion for what product or service you want to bring to the world, or use your talents to make something better for someone, then go for it!” Hilda and Sarah advise. Start now, and educate yourself with the plethora of free resources out there to make you a stronger entrepreneur.” 

Hilda Mera: “I could break with stereotypes and be a role model for my community”

Hilda Mera is the co-founder and CEO of S&A Auto Repair. As an Ecuadorian immigrant and woman in the auto industry, Hilda has learned to navigate the many challenges of entrepreneurship and being a woman in a male dominated industry.

She has been recognized by Marquis Who’s Who Top Executives for dedication, achievements, and leadership in management and business operations and in 2016 she was notably honored as VIP Woman of the Year by the National Association of Professional Women. Most recently in July 2021, Hilda was awarded as one of The Top 100 Leaders in Transportation and Automotive by the International Transportation and Automotive Summit.

Navigating obstacles as a woman in the auto industry 

Founded in April of 2013 by Hilda and her husband, Jose Masache, S&A Auto Repair is a family-owned business located in Newark, New Jersey providing honest and professional auto service in the areas of mechanical, electrical, and diagnosis. 

Their journey as entrepreneurs began after Jose grew tired of working as a mechanic for someone else. The couple began searching for a place where they could start their own garage. After an unsuccessful first try, a friend pointed them in the direction of a rental space that would soon become their business. 

The rental space needed work. It was “a mess” as Hilda described it. But they were determined to make it their own by fixing it up and giving the space a fresh new look. 

S&A Auto Repair, founded in 2013 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo via Instagram)

As they embarked on their journey, they soon learned the many obstacles and struggles of owning and running a business. Not only was everything was new, they lacked the knowledge on how to start and run a business and also lacked the capital. 

“It was hard because we had no money and a lack of knowledge. We took the risk of our lives going into business. We did not have a lease, (we were month by month for about 5 years). Today, I realize how dangerous it was and that we could have been asked to leave the auto shop at any time. However, we never, even thought of giving up,” said Hilda. 

Despite these great challenges starting out, for Hilda, the biggest challenge has been being a woman in the auto industry, an industry that has traditionally been dominated by men. However, this challenge has also become one of her greatest strengths driving her toward success. 

“I do not fix cars, but that does not mean I can not manage/run a business. It does not mean I can not learn to understand my car. Becoming an entrepreneur has been one of the best things that could happen to me. This way I feel I can leave a legacy for my kids, be a role model for women of my community, and break with stereotypes,” said Hilda. 

 

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Another strength Hilda draws upon in the face of challenges is her faith. As a woman of faith, Hilda is positive, honest, and determined. “I believe that everyone has a purpose. I have found mine, therefore, I ask God for wisdom so I can accomplish it. Every time I work on a project or  strategy to make my business grow, I put it in God’s hands.” 

Her faith and positivity make her confident, even when things don’t always turn out the way she wants, she still looks at every situation with a positive outlook. 

Now, Hilda feels grateful for everything they had to go through because it taught her so much about running a business. Like all challenges, overcoming them makes people stronger.

“I learned how important it is to have the social and working capital to succeed. I learned to overcome any obstacles that we have encountered during these eight years in business. I learned that with faith, discipline, consistency and honesty everything is possible.” 

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Women empowerment through knowledge and education  

As a woman in the auto industry, Hilda is committed to using her business to empower the community, especially women, through educational auto workshops. 

For Hilda, trust and education are important. According to the American Automotive Association, 66% of American drivers do not trust auto mechanics. Customers are often overcharged, do not trust their cars are being fixed properly, or recommend unnecessary repairs. Women are also often taken advantage of due to a lack of knowledge about cars. 

Hilda shares a story about a past client’s experience and how it inspired her to create her own educational auto workshops for women. 

S&A Auto Repair Woman’s Seminar, March 2020. (Photo source)

The client came into the shop looking for a price for a transmission. Hilda offered to give an estimate but first wanted her husband to check and see if that was what the client really needed. 

“They both went and took a ride. When they came back, my husband put the car in the lift and showed her under the car. The noise that she was hearing and the reason she was told that needed to change the transmission was metal that was hanging under the car. She got really upset. That got me so upset and I talked to my husband about doing something to help women,” Hilda recounts. 

That day, she made the decision to empower herself in the industry so she could empower other women through educational workshops. 

“I like the fact that I am a woman working in an industry that is mainly dominated by men, therefore, it makes me feel stronger and capable of accomplishing anything in this life.” 

Knowledge is power, especially in industries where women are underrepresented. For women looking to start their own business or advance in their field, Hilda recommends gathering the necessary knowledge first, then go for it and take every opportunity given. 

“We are strong and smart enough to accomplish anything we want in this life. We are capable of overcoming any obstacle, because the only limit is oneself. Be honest and consistent all the time.”

Good news for small business from the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program

The Small Business Administration (SBA) has announced improvements to the COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program to better meet the needs of small businesses, and industries hit hardest by the pandemic. With the Delta variant, the struggle is far from over and many small businesses across the country are still in need of financial relief.  

The COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan program is on of many SBA programs offering assistance to businesses in need. The program is a federal disaster relief loan designed to better serve and support our small business communities still reeling from the pandemic, especially hard-hit sectors such as restaurants, gyms, and hotels. 

SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman. (Photo Source)

“The SBA’s COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan program offers a lifeline to millions of small businesses who are still being impacted by the pandemic,” SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman said in a press release

“We’ve retooled this critical program – increasing the borrowing limit to $2 million, offering 24 months of deferment, and expanding flexibility to allow borrowers to pay down higher-interest business debt. We have also ramped up our outreach efforts to ensure we’re connecting with our smallest businesses as well as those from low-income communities who may also be eligible for the companion COVID EIDL Targeted Advance and Supplemental Advance grants totaling up to $15,000.  Our mission-driven SBA team has been working around the clock to make the loan review process as user-friendly as possible to ensure every entrepreneur who needs help can get the capital they need to reopen, recover and rebuild,” Guzman continued. 

The SBA is ready to receive new applications immediately from small businesses looking to take advantage of these new policy changes.

Changes to the COVID EIDL program

The low-interest and long-term COVID EIDL program has helped millions of small business owners survive the impacts of the pandemic with its flexibility and affordability – allowing entrepreneurs to hire and retain employees, and purchase needed equipment and inventory.  

The SBA’s newest improvements will make the program even more flexible to meet the needs of struggling business owners. New improvements include: 

  • The SBA has increased the amount of funding that can be borrowed from $500,000 to $2 million for qualified applicants.  
  • The SBA has authorized COVID EIDL funds to be used to pay and prepay commercial debt and make payments on federal business debt in recognition of the financial reality many small businesses are facing during this crisis.
  • Small businesses will have time to recover from COVID-19 impacts by further deferring payments – up to two years after your loan origination date. 
  • Additionally, to help ensure the smallest businesses can access this crucial capital, the SBA has created a one-month exclusive window for businesses requesting $500,000. During this time, approvals and disbursements will focus 100% on loans $500,000 or less until October 8th, upon which approvals and disbursements will be opened up to all loan sizes.
  • Finally, to ease the COVID EIDL application process for small businesses, the SBA has established more simplified affiliation requirements to model those of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

You might be interested: How to still apply for Covid-19 Business Tax Credits ending Sept. 30

How to apply

Eligible small businesses, nonprofits, and agricultural businesses in all U.S. states and territories can apply. Visit www.sba.gov/eidl to learn more about eligibility and application requirements. The last day that applications may be received is December 31, 2021. All applicants should file their applications as soon as possible.

For additional information on COVID EIDL and other recovery programs please visit www.sba.gov/relief.

“As your SBA Administrator and a former small business owner myself, my goal is to make you, America’s small businesses, feel like the giants you are in our economy with programs that meet you where you are,” said Guzman.  

All business owners who have received previous loans through the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), or Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) can still benefit from COVID EIDL. For no-cost assistance for the COVID EIDL program, and every other SBA program, go to www.sba.gov/local-assistance and connect with a local resource partner near you.

Maya Jacquez shares Mexican food culture and heritage through The Pinole Project 

The Pinole Project is a Mexican-American Food Company, founded by Maya Jacquez and her family as an homage to their abuela, Adela Jacquez, and her recipes. Growing up, Maya would visit her grandparents’ humble ranch in Mexico where her grandmother made the family her Pinole Chia Oatmeal. This recipe inspired the company’s first product, inviting the world to their family table to share their heritage, culture, and history with others. 

The Pinole Project, Pinole Project, PinoleProject

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Sharing Mexican culture and family heritage through food 

Founded in January 2020, The Pinole Project took just over 1 year to go from product idea to being available online and nationwide. The project grew from the family’s overwhelming passion to share their abuela’s recipe with the world. Homemade versions of Adela’s Pinole Chia Oatmeal were a regular morning staple in the Jacquez family to fuel their days. 

“Our family has been eating Pinole for centuries, and our abuela Adela would add Pinole into many dishes for more protein and fiber,” said Maya. 

A strong and mighty woman herself, Adela would always say, “Pinole will make you strong.”

The Pinole Project

The Pinole Project pays homage to the family’s abuela, Adela Jacquez and her recipe. (Photo courtesy Maya Jacquez)

The Aztec Superfood is enjoyed all across Latin America and has a rich history in the region. Pinole is a grain made from dried heirloom corn that is then ground and mixed with spices, such as cinnamon. Sometimes chia seeds or sweeteners, such as piloncillo (unrefined whole cane sugar) are also added. 

Once used to fuel Aztec warriors, Pinole is still a source of strength for locals. Today Pinole is eaten by the Tarahumara, an indigenous community living in Northern Mexico. Tarahumara runners are known for their long-distance running abilities. Maya’s grandfather, Arsenio Jacquez, developed a close relationship with the Tarahumara people and served as an interpreter for them for many decades. 

The Pinole Project

Their abuela’s Pinole Chia Oatmeal recipe inspired the company’s first product, inviting the world to their family table. (Photo courtesy Maya Jacquez)

“Our family finds so much strength in being able to share our heritage and culture with the world. The Pinole Project’s mission is to build bridges by sharing Mexican food, history, and culture. We grow when we invite new friends to our table. We believe when we educate the world about Mexico, that we are creating meaningful bonds.”

Overcoming challenges as new entrepreneurs 

With their ‘aha’ moment and the desire to share their grandmother’s recipe with the world, Maya and her family began their journey into entrepreneurship. 

One of their biggest obstacles starting out was finding the right partners to help with manufacturing, ingredient sourcing, and fulfillment. It took many months of conversations and due diligence to make sure they had the right team to succeed.

“It’s very important to have reliable, trustworthy partners because there are so many steps to getting a product in someone’s hands!” said Maya. 

As new entrepreneurs, seeking out entrepreneurial friends and mentors was another strength in overcoming obstacles. Having people who have already been down this road is an invaluable asset to anyone starting out. 

“Entrepreneurship is extremely challenging, especially in the early days (we’re still in this phase). Not only does it help to have peers and mentors to whom you can ask questions and seek guidance, but also there’s comfort in knowing you’re not alone in your journey.”

Despite the early challenges, the rewards have been worth it. Being able to share her family’s culture and heritage through their products has fostered a community that feels a lot like family. 

The High Protein/Fiber Aztec Superfood You’ve Been Missing in Your Life

“We always love seeing our fans and customers send us photos of their oatmeal. We have one supporter in particular whose love and passion for our product makes us feel so happy and eager to achieve success!” Maya shared. “She makes 3-5 Baked Oats recipes per week (consistently for many months now) with our Pinole Chia Oatmeal! Baked Oats is oatmeal made in the oven. It tastes like a delicious, healthy cake (we are obsessed!).”

The Pinole Project, Mexican Food, chocolate pancake recipe

Feeling groggy in the morning? Unfocused? Try this Aztec superfood breakfast recipe and get more!

From a small ranch in Mexico, one family’s recipe has built bridges, creating a community of people who love and celebrate an ancient grain and continue to pass on it’s history to new generations and cultures across the country. 

You might be interested: Mexican roots-inspired Adriana Pavon, fashion designer, and indigenous rights advocate

Pinole Project, PinoleProject, The Pinole Project

“My grandparents showed me what it means to live a meaningful life. They worked so hard on their small ranch in Chihuahua, Mexico to make ends meet. Preserving my family’s legacy and perpetuating Mexican-American food, history, and culture are incredibly important to me.”  

Stay Full & Focused all Morning with this Vegan, Gluten-Free Breakfast!

Ronit Shiro shares the gift of bilingualism with children through FeppyBox

Ronit Shiro is the creator and founder of FeppyBox — a bilingual subscription box designed to immerse kids ages 3-6 in Spanish and English language learning. 

FeppyBox makes it easier for parents to raise their children bilingually, in a fun way that feels more like playing than learning. With the mission to connect kids with the globe through language, in order to build a more inclusive and FEPPIER world around them, FeppyBox strives to raise the next generation of open- minded, global citizens. 

FeppyBox

FeppyBox helps parents to raise their children bilingually, in a fun way that feels more like playing than learning. (Photo courtesy FeppyBox)

Sharing the gift of bilingualism with children 

FeppyBox was born out of Ronit Shiro’s passion for learning, traveling, and connecting with people. Language was the common thread that brought all these passions together. 

FeppyBox creator and founder Ronit Shiro. (Photo courtesy FeppyBox)

Born in Venezuela to immigrant parents, Ronit was lucky to learn and speak more than one language. At the time she did not understand the importance of bilingualism or the opportunities it would offer. Later, as an adult and mom herself, she would come to understand that bilingualism is one of the greatest gifts she could give her children. 

“In our case, being bilingual means being able to connect with grandparents and friends, but it’s also a tool that creates opportunities for the future,” said Ronit. “It connects us to other cultures. It opens doors.” 

This is where the idea for FeppyBox began to take shape. Ronit began to ask: How can we provide tools to families to make language learning fun and meaningful? How can we give kids entertaining and creative ways to learn? 

From there, the subscription box service began to take form and was given its name: FeppyBox, from combining the word haPPY in English and Spanish (FEliz), to embody all parents’ ultimate purpose: to see their kids happy. In 2020, FeppyBox launched and has been growing steadily since. 

Raising bilingual children through immersive learning

By combining learning with play, FeppyBox makes language learning fun and easy. Each FeppyBox includes stories, music, and games designed so children can learn, laugh, and live in two languages. 

“From our customers, we’re learning that you don’t have to be bilingual to raise a bilingual child, and we’re seeing that play-based learning takes some of the mystery out of bilingualism,” said Ronit. “The spark of bilingualism happens when a kid connects the content in both languages.”

FeppyBox

FeppyBox offers a variety of activities to make language learning fun and immersive for children and parents. (Photo courtesy FeppyBox)

With a variety of activities, children and parents are able to engage with language in different formats. Feppy Book offers an original story in both English and Spanish and includes exclusive access to its Audio Video Book, which provides unlimited fun learning and supports pronunciation. Each Audio Video Book can be watched in English or Spanish. 

Next, Feppy Play offers a hands-on activity to encourage bilingual play-based learning. Feppy Music gives children a new song with bilingual lyrics and exclusive online access to Feppy Music. Feppy Music adapts versions of traditional children’s songs introducing Merengueton, Salsa/Trap Reggaeton/Vallenato, Electro Mambo and other Latin rhythms. 

FeppyBox

Feppy Play offers a hands-on activity to encourage bilingual play-based learning. (Photo courtesy FeppyBox). 

Finally, Feppy Parents is a unique Parent Guide to support ongoing immersive learning. Every item in FeppyBox is fully bilingual, so parents don’t need to know both languages to share 

FeppyBox is a gift that allows children to connect and grow as global citizens. For bilingual families, it is also a way for family members to connect, even across great distances. 

“We are happy to learn that grandparents have bought FeppyBox for their grandchildren as a way to connect with them,” Ronit shared. “One grandparent sent us a note telling us that, even though he lives far away from his grandson, they look forward to every box and sharing what’s inside.” 

You might be interested: ‘Diary of a Future President’ empowers young Latinas to dream big 

Tip for entrepreneurs: “Believe in yourself and in your ideas” 

Ronit’s personal philosophy as an entrepreneur is to embrace the uncomfortable and continue to move forward striving for something new and better and to seek progress over perfection. 

Creating FeppyBox was a gift of love and a passion project for her, but that does not mean there were no challenges or struggles along the way. Starting out, Ronit had to wear many hats, juggling management, customer service, and delivery. Her strength through all of this was her ability to problem solve 24/7 and be comfortable with being uncomfortable. 

“Everyday my team and I are uncomfortable, it means we are moving forward because we are doing something new, mastering a new process and doing something better. I truly believe in seeing the positive side of being uncomfortable. If you’re uncomfortable it means you’re discovering something new and moving your business forward,” said Ronit.

To minority women thinking of starting their own business, Ronit advises, “It is very important to believe in yourself and your ideas. We can ask for advice, but deep down we have to trust and believe in what we are creating.” 

Most importantly, she reminds aspiring entrepreneurs to seek progress over perfection and keep moving forward, even when things get uncomfortable. 

“Perfection can paralyze us, and as entrepreneurs it is important to advance, to move forward. It’s ok to pivot and to evolve.” 

SBA: How these cities support Latinx small businesses, J.Lo. fireside chat

The SBA (U.S. Small Business Administration) Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman announced today the full speaker slate for National Small Business Week, including entrepreneur Mark Cuban, Chef José Andrés, and White House Senior Advisor and Director of the Office of Public Engagement Cedric Richmond.  The National Small Business Week Virtual Summit takes place September 13-15, 2021.

 

Photo Credits: Mark Cuban (Wikimedia Commons – Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America – Mark Cuban & Doug Ducey) –  Jennifer Lopez (Wikipedia Commons dvsross – Jennifer Lopez at GLAAD Media Awards.jpg) – Jose Andres (Wikimedia Commons David Shankbone – Own work José Andrés Puerta at the 2012 Time 100 gala.)

The theme for this year’s event is Celebrating Resilience and Renewal, spotlighting the resilience of America’s entrepreneurs and the renewal of the small business economy as they build back better from the economic crisis brought on by the pandemic.

Administrator Guzman will kick off National Small Business Week with an opening address on September 13. In addition to this and the new keynote speakers, other panelists and participants will include Mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles, Calif.; Mayor Steve Adler, Austin, Texas; Mayor Regina Romero, Tucson, Ariz.; Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, Chicago, Ill.; Tarik Brooks, President of Combs Enterprises, and Oisin Hanrahan, Chief Executive Officer of Angi.

Here’s how you can participate:

Photo of Jennifer Lopez

Register for the National Small Business Week Virtual Summit, September 13-15 for business tips, chat with other small business owners and connect with industry experts.

Also, hear from guest speaker Jennifer Lopez as she joins Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman for “Pathways to Entrepreneurship: A Fireside Chat” on Tuesday, September 14.

For more information, see the Virtual Summit agenda.

Photo credit SBA

NSBW Virtual Summit Speakers Line up

Monday, September 13 – “Getting Back on Track: Resources to Build Back Better”

  • Opening Keynote Address by: Isabella Casillas Guzman, SBA Administrator (11-11:30 a.m. EDT)
  • Keynote Address by: Cedric Richmond, White House Senior Advisor and Director of the Office of Public Engagement (11-11:30 a.m. EDT)
  • Keynote Address by: Mark Cuban, Entrepreneur (11-11:30 a.m. EDT)
  • “Life after COVID – A Fireside Chat with SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman and Restaurateur Chef José Andrés”- José Andrés, Chef, Restaurateur and Founder of World Central Kitchen (12:40-1:10 p.m. EDT)

Tuesday, September 14 –Better Serving Small Businesses and Underserved Communities

  • “Support Latino Biz: How these Mayors are Leading the Way” – (3:40-4:40 p.m. EDT)
    Participants: Mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles, Calif.; Mayor Steve Adler, Austin, Texas; Mayor Regina Romero, Tucson, Ariz.; Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, Chicago, Ill.
    Moderator: Antwaun Griffin, Chief of Staff for the SBA
  • Special Remarks by: Tarik Brooks, Chief Operating Officer of Combs Enterprises, will speak on the importance of Black and Brown communities coming together to support each other. (4:45-5:00 p.m. EDT)

Wednesday, September 15 “Continuance to Support Resilience and Renewal”

  • Special Remarks by: Oisin Hanrahan, Chief Executive Officer of Angi (formerly Angie’s List), will share small business experiences as well as trends and insights on how Angi has maneuvered through the pandemic and positioned for the future.

Biographies for Keynote Speakers

Cedric Richmond: White House Senior Advisor and Director of the Office of Public Engagement
Cedric Richmond is an attorney and former Democratic Congressman for Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District from 2011-2021. Richmond now serves as senior advisor to President Biden and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.

Mark Cuban: Entrepreneur
Mark Cuban is an entrepreneur, television personality, and media proprietor. He is the owner of the Dallas Mavericks professional basketball team of the National Basketball Association, co-owner of 2929 Entertainment, and chairman of AXS-TV. He is also one of the main “shark” investors on the hit ABC reality TV series “Shark Tank.”

José Andrés: Chef, Restaurateur, and Founder of World Central Kitchen
José Andrés is a chef, restaurateur, and founder of World Central Kitchen, a non-profit devoted to providing meals in the wake of natural disasters.  He is often credited with bringing the small plates dining concept to America. He owns restaurants in Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles, Calif.; Las Vegas, Nev.; South Beach Miami and Orlando, Fla.; Chicago, Ill., and New York, N.Y.  Andrés received the National Humanities Medal at a White House ceremony in 2016. In 2018, Andrés’ World Central Kitchen provided meals to furloughed federal employees during the federal government shutdown.

You might be interested: Isabella Casillas Guzman confirmed as new SBA Administrator, a big win for small businesses 

Administrator Guzman announced National Small Business Week 2021 in a news release last month. The free, three-day conference will take place in a virtual atrium, which will showcase a series of educational panels on best practices for small businesses to pivot and recover in a changing economy. NSBW events this year will also provide a forum where business owners will be able to get expert advice, learn new business strategies, connect with industry experts, and meet other business owners as they look to pivot and recover. Additional speakers will be announced. Details and information will be posted on https://www.sba.gov/NSBW  as events are finalized.

To register for the National Small Business Week Virtual Summit and participate in summit workshops, please visit http://www.sba.gov/NSBW. All events will be live-streamed and will use the event hashtag #SmallBusinessWeek.

National Small Business Week delivers virtual summit for post-COVID renewal resources

National Small Business Week commences with three-day free virtual summit from September 13 – 15, 2021. 

Hosted by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), virtual summit will focus on the resilience and renewal of small businesses as they build back from the economic crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

The National Small Business Week virtual summit will feature a variety of virtual events and activities including educational panels providing tools and practices for entrepreneurs and small businesses looking to pivot and recover post-COVID. With panels such as “The Importance of Black and Brown Community: Coming Together to Support Hispanic Heritage Month, Black History Month, and Small Business Day”, “Empowering the Veteran and Military Small Business Community”, “Unlocking the Doors to Access for Black-Owned Businesses: Funders and Founders Share Their Real-Life Stories” and more on the agenda, the diverse and inclusive summit offers resources and tools to support all business owners expand and succeed. 

Register now for the free three-day virtual summit. 

SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman. (Photo Source)

“Over the last 16 months, we have seen the incredible determination and ingenuity of small businesses across the nation.  During NSBW, we will honor and celebrate their impact on our economy and strengthening of communities as we look towards recovery,” said SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman in a video message

As the 27th Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, Guzman represents the more than 30 million U.S. small businesses and is committed to helping small business owners and entrepreneurs start, grow and be resilient. 

The SBA works to empower entrepreneurs and small business owners by providing the resources and support they need to start, grow or expand their businesses, or recover from disaster. The organization delivers services through its extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. 

You might be interested: Latina Leaders share small business post-Covid recovery resources 

“NSBW is the perfect time for small businesses across the nation to network and learn about the many services and programs at the U.S. Small Business Administration, including our no-cost business counseling and mentoring opportunities available via our district offices and resource partners. We look forward to celebrating with you as we rebuild our economy and help our small businesses build back better,” Administrator Guzman added. 

About SBA

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) works to ignite change and spark action so small businesses can confidently start, grow, expand, or recover. Created in 1953, the U.S. Small Business Administration continues to help small business owners and entrepreneurs pursue the American dream. SBA is the only cabinet-level federal agency fully dedicated to small business and provides counseling, capital, and contracting expertise as the nation’s only go-to resource and voice for small businesses.