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Prospera USA Case Study

Charlotte, NC and Raleigh, NC
www.prosperausa.org

Prospera is an economic development, nonprofit organization specialized since 1991 in bilingual assistance to help start, sustain, and grow Hispanic-owned businesses. Prospera currently offers services in Florida, North Carolina and Georgia. Prospera USA is a 2020 ECOSYSTEM and 2022 ECOSYSTEM Grant Recipient.

Submitted By José D. Alvarez
Published October 2023

José D. Alvarez, Prospera USA Vice-President and NC IDEA Board Member

Latino entrepreneurs have demonstrated throughout the years that they are inquisitive and resilient. Unfortunately, most of Prospera’s clients’ countries of origin do not have Entrepreneur Support Organizations (ESOs), favorable ecosystems, or effective government agencies for small businesses. As a result, many Latino entrepreneurs in the U.S. are used to doing things on their own without looking into existing resources or support organizations.

Prospera seeks to bridge this gap and support their entrepreneurial journey through education and individual guidance with a cultural focus. We make sure to place empathy at the forefront of our work – as one of our six core values, empathy is pivotal to our success in developing trust with clients. For more than 30 years, our nonprofit organization has helped Latino entrepreneurs establish and expand their businesses through bilingual and in-culture assistance. What started as an idea in Tampa, Florida, is now a multi-state organization. Our core mission has not changed: to help start, sustain, and grow Hispanic-owned businesses to achieve community prosperity. We offer four fundamental services at no cost to clients through our unique program model: consulting, seminars, access to capital, and business advancement. Throughout our organization’s history, we have helped create or retain over 30,000 jobs, provided individual consulting services to more than 22,000 entrepreneurs, trained over 65,000 seminar participants, and marketed over $148 million in loans.

                    Business Consulting

When I think about what makes Prospera different, it comes down to two main things: culture and language. To anyone who knocks on our door; we offer or find the right help. In fact, about 5% of the entrepreneurs we serve are non-Latino. Over the years, we have learned the importance of providing cultural context in the services we provide. The seminars and workshops we offer are in Spanish, and our presenters can relate to the paradigms and past experiences of our clients. Prospera’s outreach in Spanish prevents us from competing with partners who serve entrepreneurs in English. 

I quickly learned about the urban divide in North Carolina after a few months in the state. I started taking notice of how many Latino entrepreneurs in rural regions were starting businesses with little to no resources. As a result, Prospera put together a rural Latino entrepreneurship program and with the help of an ENGAGE grant from NC IDEA, we were able to serve an initial targeted area in the state. A couple of years later, we are receiving our second ECOSYSTEM grant from NC IDEA. Being able to utilize these funds to expand our operations in North Carolina has truly made a difference in the work we do. The financial support has always been important, but money is not everything to us. The relationships, connections, and understanding that NC IDEA has provided is equally as important. After spending many years in the nonprofit sector, I have learned that relationship building is truly the catalyst for change.

                         Business Seminar

As we look to the future, our focus will continue to be on supporting Latino entrepreneurs maintaining operations in both the Charlotte MSA and the Research Triangle. We are now working in Wilmington and visiting more frequently to deliver services. We are also starting to look at Winston-Salem, eventually hoping to reach more of the Eastern and Western parts of the state. I encourage every Latino entrepreneur to take advantage of the programs being offered in North Carolina. Whether it’s small business centers, women’s business centers, government programs, or other entrepreneur support organizations, remember to always be inquisitive and brave.

Follow Prospera: Facebook, Twitter/X, LinkedIn, Instagram

Charlotte, NC and Raleigh, NC
www.prosperausa.org

Prospera is an economic development, nonprofit organization specialized since 1991 in bilingual assistance to help start, sustain, and grow Hispanic-owned businesses. Prospera currently offers services in Florida, North Carolina and Georgia. Prospera USA is a 2020 ECOSYSTEM and 2022 ECOSYSTEM Grant Recipient.

Submitted By José D. Alvarez
Published October 2023

José D. Alvarez, Prospera USA Vice-President and NC IDEA Board Member

Latino entrepreneurs have demonstrated throughout the years that they are inquisitive and resilient. Unfortunately, most of Prospera’s clients’ countries of origin do not have Entrepreneur Support Organizations (ESOs), favorable ecosystems, or effective government agencies for small businesses. As a result, many Latino entrepreneurs in the U.S. are used to doing things on their own without looking into existing resources or support organizations.

Prospera seeks to bridge this gap and support their entrepreneurial journey through education and individual guidance with a cultural focus. We make sure to place empathy at the forefront of our work – as one of our six core values, empathy is pivotal to our success in developing trust with clients. For more than 30 years, our nonprofit organization has helped Latino entrepreneurs establish and expand their businesses through bilingual and in-culture assistance. What started as an idea in Tampa, Florida, is now a multi-state organization. Our core mission has not changed: to help start, sustain, and grow Hispanic-owned businesses to achieve community prosperity. We offer four fundamental services at no cost to clients through our unique program model: consulting, seminars, access to capital, and business advancement. Throughout our organization’s history, we have helped create or retain over 30,000 jobs, provided individual consulting services to more than 22,000 entrepreneurs, trained over 65,000 seminar participants, and marketed over $148 million in loans.

                   Business Consulting

When I think about what makes Prospera different, it comes down to two main things: culture and language. To anyone who knocks on our door; we offer or find the right help. In fact, about 5% of the entrepreneurs we serve are non-Latino. Over the years, we have learned the importance of providing cultural context in the services we provide. The seminars and workshops we offer are in Spanish, and our presenters can relate to the paradigms and past experiences of our clients. Prospera’s outreach in Spanish prevents us from competing with partners who serve entrepreneurs in English. 

I quickly learned about the urban divide in North Carolina after a few months in the state. I started taking notice of how many Latino entrepreneurs in rural regions were starting businesses with little to no resources. As a result, Prospera put together a rural Latino entrepreneurship program and with the help of an ENGAGE grant from NC IDEA, we were able to serve an initial targeted area in the state. A couple of years later, we are receiving our second ECOSYSTEM grant from NC IDEA. Being able to utilize these funds to expand our operations in North Carolina has truly made a difference in the work we do. The financial support has always been important, but money is not everything to us. The relationships, connections, and understanding that NC IDEA has provided is equally as important. After spending many years in the nonprofit sector, I have learned that relationship building is truly the catalyst for change.

                     Business Seminar

As we look to the future, our focus will continue to be on supporting Latino entrepreneurs maintaining operations in both the Charlotte MSA and the Research Triangle. We are now working in Wilmington and visiting more frequently to deliver services. We are also starting to look at Winston-Salem, eventually hoping to reach more of the Eastern and Western parts of the state. I encourage every Latino entrepreneur to take advantage of the programs being offered in North Carolina. Whether it’s small business centers, women’s business centers, government programs, or other entrepreneur support organizations, remember to always be inquisitive and brave.

Follow Prospera: Facebook, Twitter/X, LinkedIn, Instagram