Last week, Alejandra Castillo, the first Hispanic American woman appointed as the National Director of the Minority Business Development Agency, participated in a panel discussion at the Latinas Think Big Innovation Summit at Google’s Mountain View Campus. The Summit brought together thought leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators and influencers to exchange ideas, address important issues, and connect attendees to high-caliber networks.
Created by Dr. Angelica Perez-Litwin, PhD, Latinas Think Big™ is a progressive platform and national tour created to bring together innovative ideas and groundbreaking projects of Latinas around the country. “I created Latinas Think Big™ to showcase the innovative ideas, talents and groundbreaking projects of Latinas around the country. I wanted to bring talented Latinas and thought leaders to the stages of well-regarded institutions like Columbia University and powerful companies like Google, for the world to 'see' how Latinas are contributing to the country's social and economic well-being,” said Dr. Perez-Litwin.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2007 Survey of Business Owners, between 2002 and 2007 Hispanic-owned businesses increased by 43.7 percent to 2.3 million, more than twice the national rate of 18 percent between the same period of time. Hispanic women-owned businesses are the fastest growing business demographic, increasing 43 percent between 2002 and 2007.
Latinas Think Big creates a space in which young women have access to speak to professional women across all sectors. At the event, Castillo talked to the audience of young Latinas about the importance of entrepreneurship and innovation. “As entrepreneurs, you need to understand that 95% of the world’s consumers live outside of the U.S. borders. The fact that you speak Spanish, the fact that you are Latinos, and the fact that you understand the business culture of Colombia, Dominican Republic, and El Salvador, positions you in a very unique place to be able to tap into those markets. When thinking about entrepreneurial ideas, think about how to go global,” stated Castillo.
Castillo stated, “If your dreams don’t scare you, then you are not dreaming big enough.” Dreaming big is important to inspire ideas and innovation, and the women who were at the Summit all shared a common goal – reaching their destiny and highest potential.
“The work that Alejandra is doing at MBDA is imperative for business owners and, in particular, to Latina entrepreneurs in this country. Access to funding is key to launch, grow and maintain a business. Alejandra is leading the way in helping minority entrepreneurs connect to the resources and funding they very much needed,” stated Dr. Perez-Litwin.
According to Dr. Perez-Litwin, the best example of a groundbreaking project that has transformed since the start of Latinas Think Big™ is the Latinas in STEM Foundation, which was presented during its launch at the Los Angeles Latinas Think Big event in October 2013. “Noramay Cadenas, the co-founders of Latinas in STEM Foundation, presented this innovative idea. Since then, the organization has garnered a lot of attention and recognition. Most importantly, she was able to connect with Ford, one of the Latinas Think Big sponsors -- and they have begun to support the initiatives and programs of Latinas in STEM Foundation,” stated Dr. Perez-Litwin.