By Lea Márquez Peterson, Owner of

President/CEO of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Member, National Women’s Business Council

Sabias Que? Did you know? Latina owned businesses are the fastest growing business segment in the United States. The National Women’s Business Council report estimates that there are close to 800,000 Hispanic Women-Owned or Latina-owned businesses in the US which reflects a 45.7% increase since 2002.  Between 2002 and 2007 their businesses increased by 172 percent, compared to Latino male firms that increased by 140 percent and white-female-owned firms, which increased by 52.9 percent. The growth is incredible and often challenging to track as women tend to launch businesses with very few resources – often relying on family and friends for loans or utilizing personal credit cards for startup capital.

The Small Business Development Center research tells us that women on average tend to invest less than men in their startups. Women take out an average of $20,000 to $50,000 in loans to start a business, whereas men tend to require on average closer to $1 million. This is especially true for Latina business owners who cannot typically rely on relationships with established capital markets and networks to access financial capital. Nearly 41 percent of Latina women report borrowing money from a friend or relative to meet expenses, while 23 percent of white women had resorted to similar networks.

The surge in growth of Latina-owned businesses seems to go unnoticed by many main stream media outlets. The National Women’s Business Council strongly encourages more stakeholders to take notice of the economic impact and continued growth potential this segment of women entrepreneurs has across the country.  Imagine the economic effects if Latina entrepreneurship where nurtured and supported more by government and private equity investment.  What financial outcomes and success rates would our nation experience if there was more emphasis on Latina oriented entrepreneurial programs? And what could it mean to private wealth creation in this growing demographic?