By 2060, 30 percent of the US population will be Latino; up from 17 percent in 2016. In 2020, Latinos may account for up to 40 percent of job growth and more than 75 percent from 2020 to 2034—all while growth in the non-Latino working age population falls to nearly zero.
Studies show that an expansion in Latino entrepreneurship is accompanying Latino population growth. In 2002, there were 1.5 million Latino-owned businesses; by 2012, there were 3.3 million; and by 2014, 3.6 million. Today, 13 percent of all nearly 28 million businesses in the United States are Latino-owned.
And yet, despite this significant surge in population and entrepreneurial activity, venture capital firms rarely invest in Latino entrepreneurs, instead deploying the vast majority of their wealth to companies founded and led by non-minorities. Additionally, regardless of demographic and workforce projections, philanthropic giving declined from 1.5 percent to the current rate of 1.1 percent for Latino-led/Latino-serving organizations providing leadership, education, business development, and other important services.
It’s clear that institutions capable of building America’s future through financial investments have not yet figured out that the Latino population—in the large numbers it is projected to become—is a national prosperity asset.
Against this backdrop, the interplay of a growing Latino drive, anchored in innovation, has the markings of a new Latino movement—a prosperity movement. A corps of Latino philanthropists, leaders, and social entrepreneurs is advancing a resource-rich community—in-person and online—and tapping into new technologies that improve access to information and bolster strategic connections.
It behooves us to examine what I call “the three levers tipping the Latino resource scale,” a dynamic perhaps best illustrated by the work of San Francisco Bay Area Latino change-makers. In the last couple of years, the San Francisco Bay Area has been experiencing a sea change in Latino philanthropy, entrepreneurship, and technology. Latino innovators are creating pathways for Latino professional and business growth, wealth-building, and deployment—a trend poised to lead the way in the nation, along with growing movements like Latina professionals in New York, spearheaded by Latinas Think Big. This dynamic informs transformation pathways for Latinos elsewhere and other populations as well.
Bay Area Latino foundations have been mobilizing Latinos and their resources, and stimulating wealth-deployment initiatives to fund Latino causes, while building an unprecedented web of Latino donors. These efforts are redefining philanthropy, which, as mentioned above, lags behind in investments in Latino-led/Latino serving organizations, and has thus far failed to increase staff and board diversity in ways that represent evolving demographic trends.
Nearly 200 Latino Bay Area philanthropists, for example, are working alongside the Latino Community Foundation, acting as grantors to Latino-led, Latino-serving organizations. This growing Latino Giving Circle Network, now expanding to Southern California, will engage hundreds of new Latino donors in the months and years to come. This Network creates pathways for Latinos to provide donations, learn about community needs and strengths, and immerse themselves in grant giving. This strategy develops new skills and builds a robust network of like-minded givers investing in Latino issues.
Another example is HIPGive, an online donation vehicle thoughtfully executed by Hispanics in Philanthropy (HIP) that attracts donors to give directly to vetted Latino organizations. This brings donors closer to Latino grantees, fostering new connections, knowledge, and engagement.
Efforts like these mark the birth of a new movement in Latino philanthropy, which has traditionally focused on church, family, and Latinos’ native countries. Additionally, Latino foundations are leading advocacy efforts with other foundations and corporations, holding conferences, and sharing the achievements of Latino wealth and leadership deployment to strategically expand the philanthropic dialogue.
Formal entrepreneurship trainings for Latino business owners are emerging, and some are taking the form of strategic collaborations. The Latino Business Action Network (LBAN) and Stanford University, for example, have taken a leadership role in cultivating established Latino-owned business to foment growth through training, and by bringing together mentors, venture capitalists, angel investors, corporations, and nonprofits. For LBAN, Latino business development is a winning economic proposition for the nation.
A growing number of networking events include panel discussions and presentations geared toward the acceleration of information-sharing, capacity-building, and access to resources, and typically focus on entrepreneurship and leadership. These events are fostered by LAM, Latina Success Network, and Latinas Think Big, among others. Presentations by emerging Latino entrepreneurs in front of groups to rehearse and enhance their pitches to venture capital and angel investors, coupled with talks by Latinos/Latinas working in venture capital, are also growing trends.
These events take place at titan companies in Silicon Valley and San Francisco, and at tech and business innovation centers such as Galvanize and Impact Hub. Over time, by continuing to engage with corporations such as Facebook, Google, and Intuit for professional networking events, these Latino connectors will dismantle the prevailing perception that there are no qualified professional Latinos in the pipeline.
Latino social entrepreneurship initiatives are devising vehicles of information-sharing to shatter obstacles and build access to resources. The DREAMer’s Roadmap, a first-in-the-nation app just released by Bay Area innovator Sarahi Espinosa Salamanca, revolutionizes how Latino immigrant youth can access scholarship information. In addition, the newly created app QueSee connects Latinos across disciplines, interests, and professions to exponentially build Latino networks, and provide access to resources for economic and professional development.
The future will show that technological tools created by and for Latinos will continue to expand access to information and knowledge, while further dismantling long-standing barriers to access. Imagine apps informing and engaging Latino donors about new funding opportunities and connecting networks of givers—or apps and ongoing established forums linking Latino startup businesses to investment capital in myriad ways. This is coming; there are many Latino and Latina engineers and innovators committed to building socio-economic growth for Latinos and, ultimately, for the United States.
Latino-driven philanthropy, entrepreneurship, and technology are logical pillars for future efforts. I envision a time when the interaction between them may foster a Latino superfund—not to displace established philanthropy, but to augment funding impact in areas overlooked by the philanthropic establishment. Moreover, I envision Latino venture capitalist and angel investor firms emerging over time.
To build further momentum and presence, we must continue to explore the increased role of social entrepreneurship in developing technological tools to support Latino socio-economic growth, augment Latino philanthropy through connections and outreach, and support Latino wealth deployment for business development.
The growing web of Latino connections and drivers is redefining the loci of power and change. Further actions in Latino philanthropy, entrepreneurship, and technology will erode the inaccurate and widespread narrative that Latinos are primarily under-resourced recipients of charity.