Representative: Jose Alvarez
Prospera is an economic development, nonprofit organization that specializes in providing bilingual assistance to Hispanic entrepreneurs trying to establish or expand their businesses. The organization offers a variety of services specifically designed for Hispanic small business owners to help them achieve prosperity through training, consulting, grants and access to capital.
How did the organization get started?
Born within the Hispanic Business Institute in Tampa in November 1991, the Hispanic Business Initiative Fund West Coast, Inc. was established to help Hispanic entrepreneurs start and develop their businesses so they could compete and do business with mainstream businesses. Visionary business owners and community leaders led the charge and recruited the support of elected officials, among the first Mayor Sandy Freedman and Hillsborough County Commissioners.
From where does your passion for this cause come?
After graduating college. I secured my first job in the private sector. As a young professional, I worked for several years in corporate America, absorbing knowledge to be a good and decent worker. As time went by, I started to feel there was something missing. I quickly realized that my heart, humanity and professional skills were so in sync that I found myself wanting to somehow serve society and give back regardless of salary or title.
Why is your work important?
A large percentage of Charlotte’s accelerated population growth is due in part to Hispanic immigrants. The majority are economically disadvantaged who came here to pursue the American Dream from unstable societies in Central America, South America or the Caribbean. Whatever their motivation, they have come here and quickly learned that starting a business is their best chance to achieve that dream, a process in which they don’t account for risk.
What excites you most about the SEED20 process?
I am excited about the opportunity to be coached and mentored by other professionals specializing in communications and the nonprofit field. I haven’t had this type of individual coaching in more than ten years, and I feel this will help me tremendously now that I am responsible for a statewide operation. As a result, I feel I will be able to refine my pitch and possibly secure funding to increase the sustainability of our program.
What do you hope to gain from the SEED20 experience?
I hope to gain mentorship and connections. I believe the program will help improve my message development and delivery. In addition, there are currently new programs being developed in Charlotte, and this type of support will help produce a clear, articulate and effective description of these programs. Also, the new wave of economic development is collaboration, and the only way to address Charlotte’s many challenges is by connecting and working together.
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