pitch competition

First three 2018 Pitch Competition participants contending for 10K Package Prize

The 2018 Latina SmallBiz Expo has announced the first three Latinas that will participate at the 2018 Pitch Competition representing the states of New Jersey and New York. This year they compete for a $10K Package Prize that includes cash and promotion. Registration for the Pitch Competition closes on October 30th, 2018.

pitch competition

Latinas in Business Inc. the national non-profit 501(c) 3 organization that advocates for the economic empowerment of Latina entrepreneurs and other minority women, announced the first three participants to the 2018 Latina SmallBiz Expo Pitch Competition. The event will take place at the Hudson County Culinary Conference Center, 161 Newkirk St, Jersey City, NJ on November 8, 2018 from 12:00 to 7:00pm. Co-hosting the event are the Hudson County Office of Business Opportunity and Hudson County Community College.

“Three brave Latina entrepreneurs are stepping up at the 2018 Pitch Competition to promote their products and services to the most relevant media and sponsors in the region,” said Susana G Baumann, President, CEO and Editor-in-Chief, Latinas in Business Inc. “They are residents of the states of New Jersey and New York and they will compete for an opportunity to win a $10,000 Package Prize that includes $2000 Cash, promotion and business acumen,” she added.

The three participants at the 2018 Pitch Competition are Gladys Vonglahn, founder and owner of Gladys Cleaning Service LLC, a residential and commercial cleaning. A Chilean by birth, Gladys began working in the cleaning business without much knowledge of professional cleaning, without access to capital, and with a language barrier. Little by little her business began to grow due to her constant dedication and from there she was able to structure her business into the company it is today. “I have a good sense of humor and I use it to market my services and also create communication channels with my clients,” Gladys said.

Judy Perez pitch competitionJudy Perez was born in New York City in a Dominican household. She loved cooking since the age of 8, and would cook for her family. “Baking didn’t come until I couldn’t seem to find any dessert I enjoyed when I went to eat out,” Judy said. So she created her line of Judy’s Dream Cakes, a dessert creation that she calls “edible art.” I began my idea in 2008 struggling as an entrepreneur but didn’t quit. I believed in my skills and my dream,” Judy said.

Yenny Espinal is from Belleville, NJ. She is a designer, a craft artist and owner of Yenny’s_creations, a small business she started in 2014. “I make handmade hair accessories like headbands for girl and babygirls, l also made all type of handmade craft, paper flowers, Christmas centerpieces, home and party decorations,” Yenny said.

“The 2018 Pitch Competition is a signature event that attracts strong and established Latina small businesses for an opportunity to be promoted in main media in the region,” Baumann said. “We only require that the businesses are Latina-owned –solely or with a 50% partnership, they have to be in business for at least one year and they have to have a product or service in hand,” she explained.

Yenny Espinal pitch competitionThe event will take place at the Culinary Conference Center, 161 NewKirk St, Jersey City, NJ 07306 on November 8 from 12:00pm to 7:00pm. Validated parking for exhibitors, vendors and those who purchase a Full Event Ticket will be available at 140 Sip Ave Jersey City, NJ, across the street from the Culinary Conference Center.


For information and to register please visit 2018 LatinaSmallBiz Expo(

For sponsorship and promotional opportunities, please contact or 848 238 6090.

team building Bellaria Jimenez

Bellaria Jimenez, a Latina leader’s passion helps others achieve their dreams

Bellaria Jimenez, President of MassMutual Tri State, will be Keynote Speaker at the Latina SmallBiz Expo and Pitch your Biz Competition on November 9 at NJIT in Newark NJ (150 Bleeker St – Free parking at 154 Summit Street). To see Bellaria speak, please register:

Bellaria Jimenez

Bellaria Jimenez, President at MassMutual Tri State and Latina SmallBiz Expo and Pitch Competition Keynote Speaker


Bellaria Jimenez is the President of MassMutual Tri State, an agency that focuses on building long-term relationships with individuals, employees, and business owners to help them achieve financial security.

With 22 years of experience in financial planning, Bellaria leads a team of 35 managers and 175 sales representatives who attend the needs of over 210,000 clients, 6.7 billion in client assets, and offices in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York.

“My passion for helping people achieve financial peace of mind was triggered by my own family experiences,” Bellaria told “We came from Venezuela when I was seven years old because my father was a well-known local artist who wanted to advance his studies in the US,” she recalls.

However, as an artist, he was never able to achieve the level of notoriety he had back in Venezuela. He explored other opportunities to sustain his family, starting a small newspaper printing shop.

“He never had sound advice from professionals who surrounded him, and he retired with a very small pension late in life,” Bellaria explains. “I believe that it is not uncommon for a lot of individuals and business owners who are so concerned about their daily problems and obstacles, fighting to survive and sustain their businesses, that they make poor decisions for their futures,” she said.

Sacrifices started at a young age for Bellaria Jimenez

While attending college full-time, Bellaria was working for Continental Airlines also as a full-time employee. “I had to do a lot of sacrifices to pay my way through college. I knew an education would pay off some day but I was not sure how,” she recalled.

While trying to live her own life, Bellaria was also witness of the family situation at home. She then decided to read and acquire knowledge about managing finances by studying individuals who had been successful in their business lives. She switched her course of studies and started taking financial courses.

In 1995, Bellaria entered the financial industry. “At the time, there were very few women in this field, specially Latinas and young ones. Those were very tough beginnings.  I tried to surround myself with the best mentors and most experienced colleagues who would teach me the way,” she explained. “Tell me who you have lunch with and I will tell you how successful you are, that was and continues to be my motto, constantly learning from others.”

She continued her studies to become a Certified Financial Planner then working for First Investors, a company that was later acquired by a Canadian firm. Bellaria saw an opportunity to join MetLife, a well-established financial company where she flourished for 15 years.

“It was during all these years that I discovered my passion to help others achieve their goals. My manager took notice of this talent and started offering me some managerial responsibilities. I did not know at the time great changes were coming my way,” she said.

Taking a step into a stellar leadership role

In 2016, MetLife sold the Individual Distribution Division to MassMutual. “I was offered a leadership role for which I have been preparing, unknowingly, for a few years. It was a thrilling moment, full of mixed feelings but I knew I was ready,” she said.

Bellaria Jimenez, President at MassMutual Tri State

Bellaria Jimenez, President at MassMutual Tri State, has received numerous awards including the 2016 Prominent Woman award.

As the President of MassMutual Tristate, Bellaria focuses on helping individuals and business owners, especially women, who need guidance and customized solutions to their specific need.

“We focus especially on Latinos, women and the younger generation, who are now out of college with a lot of debt and fewer opportunities than their parents,” Bellaria explained. “Young people are not attracted to financial planning early on, when you really need to manage your finances. They see older people –the agent average age is 51-and they think it is something their parent do or need,” she explained.

At MassMutual Tristate, Bellaria’s team is working hard at attracting younger men and women who would like an opportunity to advance their careers helping others. “Many people think you need an MBA to build a career in financial planning but in truth, you just need a passion for helping others and a series of certifications and licenses that we, at MassMutual Tristate, provide and guide all potential candidates to achieve,” she said.

The company also offers a great deal of training and support through their virtual university, mentors that help them not only build a client portfolio but also how to do marketing, sales and establish strong relationships with their clients.

“At MassMutual Tri State, we offer comprehensive financial services and products that empower our clients to improve their long-term financial situation and reach their lifetime goals and dreams,” Bellaria explained. “If your passion is to help people live a worry free life and make a great career for yourself, I encourage you to contact us and become part of our successful team,” she concluded.

Bellaria has received numerous awards including the 2005 Hispanic Corporate Achiever of the Year 2014, Top 50 Business Women in NJ, and the 2016 Prominent Woman award. A member of the Junior Achievement of New Jersey, she also sits on the FDU board. She had the distinguished honor of ringing the opening bell on Wall Street in April 2010, a success few Hispanic women at MassMutual have achieved.

A version of this article will be published by Abasto Magazine 2017 October/November issue.