Coming up next week, the Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GWHCC) will hold its Sixth Annual Business Expo: Connections, Opportunities and Growth at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center followed by the Promoting Trade among the Americas International Symposium on March 24th and 25th. The event has sold out its expositors space and is expecting over 2000 visitors.
The heart and soul behind this initiative is Angela Franco, GWHCC President and CEO, who took the helm in 2009 when the chamber only had around 100 members. Today, that number has gone up to 600 Latino and non-Latino businesses that enjoy the growing benefits of the dynamic organization.
“When I was offered the position, I took it on a part-time basis. I had a small child and had left a 20 year banking career, so I was re-thinking my life and my professional goals,” Angela told LIBizus. “I have always loved to work with people and be involved in the community, give a word of support or a helping hand, so the work at the chamber became a perfect opportunity to realize my professional and personal aspirations,” she said.
She believes it is hard to start a new life and a business as an immigrant. Many acquaintances and friends helped her when she returned to the USA in 2001 after living many years in Colombia so she always thought to “pay it forward.”
“When I came in, the chamber needed a powerful event to attract the interest of small businesses and key leaders in the community. We created the Hispanic Business Expo, the only event of this caliber in the region,” she affirms.
She believes the one strategy that has worked for the GWHCC to bring in new members and produce results is the involvement of local community organizations in this event. They help promote the expo and actively participate with their presence, which this year amounts to almost 160 expositors.
“For instance, the chamber has been selected as the Federal Exchange Healthcare.gov strategic partner two years in a row to promote and offer healthcare to the local communities,” Franco shares. “Our effort has expanded over the mere lines of B2B and now we is getting the attention of key stakeholders in the nation, a great benefit for our members.”
Another area the chamber has consistently focused on is minority business certifications for businesses looking to become federal government vendors. The chamber helps their members get certified as small or minority businesses, disadvantaged and other several categories.
Federal government contracts might have requirements that fluctuate across agencies and contracts. Even revenues requirements might vary from less than $100K to $2M or more a year, a big gap for the caliber of businesses applying to these contracts, Angela explained. Some of these certifications do not require US citizenship.
“We help Hispanic businesses make the tough decisions as they grow,” Angela said. “Especially for Latina business owners, who usually lack access to resources and contacts, we want to be there for them. Having a business is mostly about who can resist the tough times, and leaving out the negative emotions.”
In Franco’s experience, Latina women have a great internal strength, are driven and have a lot of determination. “We try to help them understand how the business works, and where the money is coming from; what is going to sell and to have some clarity in their business,” she said.
If you are a Latina business owner in the region, Angela invites you to meet with her personally at the Expo and talk to her about your concerns. Don’t miss this great opportunity to promote your business and find the solutions you need right now!
To register for this FREE event, please click on the banner below: