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Hispanic business owners get a boost from workshops at ASU Chandler Innovation Center

March 11, 2024

Thanks to a partnership between a nonprofit helmed by an Arizona State University alumna and the city of Chandler's economic development division, free workshops aimed at helping Hispanic business owners take their companies to the next level have a home at the ASU Chandler Innovation Center.

The DAS Foundation was created with the goal of supporting Hispanic business owners in reaching their goals through education programs with specific topics.

A recent workshop held at the ASU Chandler Innovation Center focused on tips to manage a business successfully, from crafting a solid plan to pay business taxes to determining which receipts to keep and which ones to toss.

The next one will be held April 11 and will explore how to pitch prospective clients in order to boost your business. More are on the horizon.

“All are skills that can be immediately applied to their business to grow, save money, get new clients or increase profits,” said Regina Uribe, executive director of the DAS Foundation. 

Uribe graduated from ASU in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in business with a concentration in global politics and earned her master’s degree in global technology and development in 2020. 

Attendees are small business owners, many with five or fewer employees, representing a variety of industries. Some businesses have recently opened while others have been operating for more than 20 years.

Workshops can be attended in person or virtually, drawing participants from as far as Tucson and Mexico. 

One unique feature of the workshops is that they are conducted in Spanish.

Many participants have been in the U.S. for years, sometimes decades, with some having owned their own businesses in Mexico as well. The vast majority are bilingual but when it comes to the local vernacular, there can to be a lost-in-translation factor that, for some, can stand in the way of their company achieving its full potential.

“There’s a lot of Hispanic business owners who prefer Spanish,” Uribe said. “This is about having access to professional development education in your own native language.” 

Fernanda Gaytan, owner of Swept Cleaning Services, has taken several DAS workshops and courses over the last two and a half years. Born in Mexico, Gaytan was an accountant before moving to Arizona when she was 23. She started her cleaning business here 30 years ago with just two employees doing residential jobs.

Her business has grown with more employees and commercial clients. A few years ago, she established her LLC and changed the name of her business. She has two locations in Phoenix and Tucson. Gaytan was running her business without any real knowledge when she heard about the classes.

Marketing, doing business taxes, daily accounting and how to position a business for success are among the topics Gaytan has covered. Gaytan said 75% of the help she’s received to keep her business thriving came from DAS programs.

“I started finding that I needed more knowledge and more ways to manage the business,” Gaytan said. “You’re always more comfortable in your own language, and it was exactly what I needed.” 

The DAS Foundation was founded by Uribe’s mother Regina Duran. While vacationing in Mexico, Duran was inspired to help visually-impaired entrepreneurs start a massage training school. This was the seed for DAS. 

As an alumna and former ASU Office of University Initiatives employee, Uribe had long been wanting to partner with her alma mater.

“I wanted to figure out how to leverage the amazing resource that is the ASU Chandler Innovation Center. It’s a natural alignment and a great way to bring resources to the Chandler community,” said Uribe, who lives in Chandler. 

Uribe reached out to her former co-worker Christina Ngo, executive director of social embeddedness at ASU. 

Ngo immediately recognized the value of Uribe’s mission and got the ball rolling to make the partnership happen. 

“It’s wonderful because she is providing a great service to the community,” Ngo said. “She’s filling a gap that can best be done by plugging into ASU.”

Ngo likes that Uribe is also interested in having the workshops held in centers in other parts of the Valley, using the ASU Chandler Innovation Center as a template. 

“This could serve as a model for other communities whose first language is not English. It could be super for other budding entrepreneurs,” Ngo said. “These are concepts that are not as easily translated, and she has that unique perspective with these workshops that are culturally responsive.”

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