Google.org supports Latino SMBs this holiday season

When I think about small businesses, I think about my family. My uncle runs a small freight forwarding business in South Florida. My cousin works at a family-owned Peruvian restaurant. And my father-in-law is a serial entrepreneur who has run a hair salon, a construction company, and an outdoor food court over the years. These small businesses have been a lifeline for my family, and provided opportunities for us to succeed in this country. 

Small businesses are the backbone of families like mine and the U.S. economy as a whole. It’s critical that we come together to support these pillars of local communities, especially for historically underserved groups, like the Latino community, which have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Latinos are 1.5 times more likely to start a business, but in the past few months alone about 32% of Latino-owned businesses have been forced to close due to COVID-19. 

In September, Google.org announced a $3 million grant to Hispanics in Philanthropy PowerUp Fund to directly support Latino-owned small businesses across California, Texas and New York. Through this effort, 500 small businesses were selected and will receive $5,000 in cash grants as well as a year’s worth of business training from Ureeka, a community-based platform that connects underserved small business owners to peers, mentors and coaches, to help these businesses grow. We’re optimistic that through cash and training like this, small businesses will be able to build the resilience they need to withstand economic downturns, especially during the holidays. 

The PowerUp Fund grant recipients represent more than 55 industries including food and beverage, health and wellness, childcare, technology and more. Nearly 60 percent of these businesses are Latina-owned and more than 15 percent of business owners identify as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, a U.S. veteran or persons with disabilities. We asked recipients to share how this support will help keep the lights on, here’s what some of them had to say: 

  • Gisselle Hernandez, CEO of Glamlite Cosmetics

    Gisselle Hernandez, CEO of Glamlite Cosmetics

    Gisselle Hernandez founded Glamlite Cosmetics, a food inspired cosmetics brand. Giselle is a Caribbean immigrant that lives by the motto: “beauty isn’t one-size-fits-all.” Our brand is grateful to be one of recipients of this outstanding support from the PowerUp Fund,” says Gisselle. “Through the Ureeka coaching we will continue to learn how to use social media to expand our audience and create engaging content for our current customers.”

  • Alejandro Cuadra, owner of Urban Barber College

    Alejandro Cuadra, owner ofUrban Barber College 

    Urban Barber College prepares students to become licensed professionals within the beauty industry. “This funding and coaching will help bring some stability in this very unpredictable year,” said Alejandro.“I can look forward to growth and sustainability with the opportunity to learn from a Ureeka business coach.” 

  • Laura Bruce, Director of Mi Casa Es Tu Casa

    Laura Bruce, Director ofMi Casa Es Tu Casa 

    Mi Casa Es Tu Casa offers highly-rated online baby and toddler music classes to teach Spanish through music, sign language, and games. “The PowerUp funding and coaching from Ureeka will help us have a solid plan to move forward with our small business by setting our priorities straight, recover from the damages done by COVID-19, and have a more efficient business strategy to make 2021 our best year yet,” says Laura. 

  • Joe Melig, Co-owner of 2M Smokehouse

    Joe Melig, Co-owner of 2M Smokehouse

    2M Smokehouse is one of the most popular barbeque and catering restaurants in San Antonio. “With all the uncertainty that lies ahead for small business owners, this grant is helping us by allowing us to make the necessary improvements and adjustments during these ever-changing times,” says Joe. “However, it is the support brought to us through the coaching course and a sense of community with fellow business owners that will last a lifetime.” 

  • Carmen Rodriguez, CEO of Brooklyn Cupcake

    Carmen Rodriguez and Gina Madera, Founders of Brooklyn Cupcake

    Brooklyn Cupcake is a family owned and operated cupcake shop with a menu of Puerto Rican and Italian inspired cupcakes. “We’ve seen a spike in our internet shipping since the start of the pandemic,” says Carmen. “This grant will go towards building a much needed shipping department so that we can capture every single sale and continue to grow our shipping platform.”

  • Javier Castaño, Director of QueensLatino

    Javier Castaño, Director of QueensLatino 

    Queens Latino is a monthly bilingual newspaper that provides  local news from Queens, New York—one of the most diverse regions in the U.S. “COVID-19 has transformed New York City’s Latino community,” says Javier.  “In response to the disruptive impacts the QueensLatino community-based platform has endeavored to report on the systemic socio-economic dislocations–thus contributing to reactivating the local economy. This grant money will be used to pay reporters, videographers, and acquire new technologies. The coaching will assist in making our newsroom more robust, strengthen our business strategy and help us navigate the digital ecosystem and develop new perspectives that will ensure growth and prosperity.”

Google.org’s funding for the PowerUp Fund builds on Google’s $180M commitment to support minority and women-led small businesses across the country through the Grow with Google Small Business Fund and Google.org grants. Read on to learn more about the other PowerUp Fund recipients and consider supporting a small business this holiday season— whether it’s buying your favorite candle from the shop around the corner or giving a shout out to your go-to dinner spot on social media—every little bit counts. 

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