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3 reasons the American Dream is not dead for Latina entrepreneurs

“The American Dream is dead”, according to recent studies cited by the New York Times. These studies reveal that more than half of Americans believe the American Dream is dead, never existed, or is unachievable. And nearly 6 in 10 people who responded to CNNMoney’s American Dream Poll, conducted by ORC International, feel the dream — however they define it — is out of reach.

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Latina entrepreneurs at GWHCC Biz Expo American Dream

Latina entrepreneurs at GWHCC Biz Expo

Despite the gloomy statistics there is one notable exception – Latinas. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, Hispanic women are defying the trend and with great optimism starting businesses at a rate six times faster than the population at large. Along with their Latino hermanos, Hispanic-owned businesses have grown by over 43 percent in the last decade and now number over 2.3 million strong.

There are good reasons for the average American to feel they will never reach their dreams. Despite the recent economic recovery, lower unemployment and a stabilization of housing prices, the public continues to feel insecure about the future and their financial stability. This anxiety is palpable and exacerbated by the widening gap between rich and poor in America today. In terms of wealth inequality, we are the fourth highest in the world (trailing Russia, the Ukraine, and Lebanon).

According to recent studies upward mobility in the U.S. has stayed the same in the past 50 years despite skyrocketing inequality. Surprisingly, these studies reveal that it is actually harder to move up in America than it is in most other advanced nations. Today it is easier to rise above the class you’re born into in countries like Japan, Germany, Australia, and the Scandinavian nations, according to research from the University of Ottawa and others.

Americans’ pessimism about their future is reinforced by the realization that “upward mobility”, the bedrock tenet of the American Dream principle, is an illusion. It is widely accepted that for the dream to be real, everyone –regardless of their circumstances of birth, race, religion or gender–, should be able to reach their highest potential if they followed society’s rules, got a good education and worked hard and long enough. Yet, the reality seems much different today.

Ivette Monney and Ana Tellez Claros American Dream

Ivette Monney and Ana Tellez Claros, Housing and Comm Services Northern Virginia Inc.

“Latinas are one of the most resilient demographic groups I’ve met in business,” said Susana G Baumann, editor-in-chief of “Although we might not achieve the higher ranks in terms of wealth other groups do –such as white males– we are extremely consistent with our activity, provide employment for family members and other people in our communities, sustain our families as head of household in many cases –even supporting extended family–, all of it without letting negative circumstances or obstacles defeat us, and keeping our dreams alive,” she said.

While there are many individual reasons why Latinas continue to defy the odds and are confidently pursuing their dreams, the central reasons revolve around three core cultural values that define what it means to be Latino …Faith, Family and Frijoles.


Reaching for your dreams requires faith. And while it is true that most Latinos are religious, 68% identify as Roman Catholic according to the Pew Hispanic Project, faith means much more than adhering to religious doctrine or a belief in God. Faith is what inspires Latinos to be the first in our family to attend college, start a business or run for public office when money is scarce and the odds are against you. Faith is what sustains us when times are hard and the dream seems out of reach. For many Latinos, faith alone is the reason we believe in the American Dream instead of a life of struggle.


Family is the heart of the Latin soul. Family, our extended family, is central to Latino identity and is where we get the inspiration, love and support to achieve our dreams. Every major decision Latinos make, like whether to start a business, is done not in isolation but is weighed against the impact on the family as a whole. According to a study by MassMutual, the reason 55% of Latinos start a business is to have something to pass on to their children.


Cecilia Arce, Verde Cleaning Services


Frijoles, of course, literally means beans. However, because of regional variations, Frijoles is the catchall term I use to describe Latino culture in its many wonderful manifestations. And it is Latino culture, including a strong work ethic and a desire to achieve success for our family, which sustains our belief in the American Dream.

Daniel Ortiz (Don Daniel) is the Award-Winning Author of How to Achieve the American Dream without Losing Your Latin Soul, an Inspirational Speaker and Host of the popular TV show “American Dream – Latin Souls.”

 For more information visit

Susana G Baumann interview with Don Daniel Ortiz for American Dream Latin Souls on YouTube

American Dream Latin Souls interviews Susana Baumann at

We thank Don Daniel Ortiz for this interview to Susana G Baumann, Editor-in-Chief at and the opportunity to share her experience as an immigrant entrepreneur.

women of color lack of access to capital

Achieve the American Dream without losing your Latin Soul (free session)

Attractive Hispanic Woman Leaning on a One Hundred Dollar Bill.

What is your American Dream? Family, values, traditions? Money, fame, achievement?

What is your American Dream? And what does that mean to you? Are you living it?

If you were like most young Latinas, you dreamed about what your life would be like when you grew up. And like many American girls, you may have imagined marrying your Prince Charming, living in a beautiful home, having children and perhaps even a career of your own. Some of you may even have dreamed about traveling to exotic places, being independent and breaking traditional female gender roles.

Childhood dreams never truly die: they lie within you seeking to someday be fully realized!

For most Americans today, the American Dream means living in a home of their own, having a successful career or perhaps their own business. For others the American Dream means achieving fame, amassing wealth, or accumulating an abundance of material possessions.

For me, the American Dream means having the freedom to control my own destiny. Living the Dream means I have discovered my purpose in life and am free to pursue my vision of happiness, wherever that road may lead me. Although the American Dream may possibly mean different things to different people, one thing is certain:

For Latinas in America, achieving the American Dream is meaningless if they lose their Latin Soul in the process!

The soul is that part of you that seeks meaning and purpose and a connection with something greater than yourself. After all, isn’t it your connection to your faith, family and culture that nurtures your Latin soul and gives meaning to your life?

Who are you, as a Latina, without your familia, native culture and religious traditions?

Happy Hispanic Family Portrait Sitting in Grass Field with Ghosted House Figure Behind.

Who are you, as a Latina, without your familia?

And for us, family doesn’t mean just the traditional nuclear family consisted of a man, a woman and 2.3 children. No, for Latinos family means the extended family of abuelos, tíos, tías and of course primos with whom you grew up and created mischief when you were young. For Latinos, without these relationships life feels empty, void of the bonds that give meaning to our lives.

This is the challenge for Latinos in America today . . . We live in two worlds!

On the one hand, we grow up in a world where faith, family and “frijoles” are values we hold dear. On the other, we live in a society where independence, notoriety and achievement are esteemed above all else.

In the Latino world, we give a warm abrazo or beso when we say hello or goodbye, even to someone we just met. In the other world, a firm handshake or even cold shoulder is considered an appropriate salutation even when you have known someone for years.

As a Latina business professional, you face a dilemma because in our world it is considered bad manners to brag about your accomplishments, flaunt your wealth or attract attention to yourself, and yet to succeed in America today, you must often stand out from the crowd.

Yes, Latinos live in two worlds!

One reason is because our core values, the soul of Hispanic culture, revolve around our extended family. Our family is part of our identity and is included in our hopes and dreams. Success in business and life in general is meaningless for Latinos without family with whom to share our good fortune. Our family is our foundation, inspiration and a source of strength.

So what is the secret to achieving the American Dream without losing your Latin soul?

startups, small business, launching a business

Have you defined your core values?

The key is to bridge the gap between your two worlds. As a Latina living in America you are influenced by the values of two distinct cultures. In fact, it is virtually impossible to succeed in school or in the workplace without incorporating into your life at least some traditional American cultural values.

The way to bridge the gap between worlds is to orient your life around your core values. Core values are the essence of who you are at the deepest level of your being. Core values are things that give your life meaning and purpose. Core values are what you find meaningful, like beauty, justice and family, when all your needs are met.

Have you defined your core values?

In my coaching practice, I always make sure my clients clearly define their core values before they set any business or career goals. The reason being too many business professionals, Latinas included, chase after success with the erroneous assumption that success will make them happy. It does not!

You may be able to achieve success without living your core values, but you may also find that the ladder of success you worked so hard to climb was leaning against the wrong wall. True and sustainable success, in business and life, is a consequence of living according to your core values and sharing your natural gifts and talents with the world. By bridging the gap between your two worlds you can achieve the American Dream without losing your Latin soul!


YOUR VALUES are the behaviors and activities to which you are naturally drawn.  Values are who you really are and they include: … Creating, … Contributing, … Adventure, … Beauty, … Teaching and… Spirituality.

Don Daniel offers a free 40-minute coaching session to those who would like to start working on his Tru Values™ Program: this program helps you to understand values, discern your top 4 values and puts you on a path to honoring them. Sign up now! Only 3 free sessions offered!

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Daniel Ortiz Daniel Ortiz (Don Daniel) is an award-winning author and host of the popular TV show “American Dream – Latin Souls,” which shares the inspiring story of Hispanic business success. To learn more or purchase his book visit