The Latino Immigrant Entrepreneurial Advantage

Latino immigrants’ experiences and qualities are major assets for entrepreneurship.


Statistics regarding Latino immigrants in the U.S.  are showing demographic shifts whereby the Latino population will continue to increase at a rapid pace. In a previous piece I had highlighted some of the educational challenges that Latinos continue to face and talked about how this gap undercuts growth opportunities for the nation as a whole.

In light of the educational trends we are experiencing, I illustrated how higher levels of education among Latinos have a direct impact on the likelihood that they will engage in entrepreneurship and succeed. In addition, I offered a call to action—pointing out ways to advocate, promote and advance Latino entrepreneurship.
The DNA of Latino immigrants

Now, I will discuss the hallmarks of entrepreneurship and offer an alternative view about Latino immigrants— elucidating on their entrepreneurial qualities. Entrepreneurship is practically in the DNA of Latino immigrants. (This applies to more than Latinos, but here I’m focusing on Latino entrepreneurship.)

After 15 years of nonprofit consulting, board service, research, writing and publishing pieces about Latino migration, public policy, education and business development, I know this: It is definitely time to make a sweeping and concerted change in how we talk about Latino immigrants – documented and otherwise.

The literature, service agencies, philanthropic sector, media and business development agencies still tend to rely on terms that refer to Latino immigrants as “disenfranchised groups,” “disadvantaged population” and “the underserved,” to name a few misnomers grounded on a deficit-centered perspective.

The use of this terminology does nothing more than a disservice to the Latino population and the broader community. There is a different lens through which to look at Latino immigrants. I am referring to a strength-based approach that stems from a simple reality check.

We have an opportunity to turn the tables in one big sweep, moving from undermining misnomers to a much more realistic concept and terminology: The Latino immigrant advantage.

Hallmarks of Entrepreneurship
What do I mean by this? Let’s start by reviewing the hallmarks of entrepreneurship and comparing them to the multifaceted attributes exhibited by Latino immigrants who come to live in the U.S. This comparison speaks for itself concerning the entrepreneurial assets and potential that can be unleashed among immigrant Latinos.

Conventional views, often held by leading media and academic centers and others, tell us that some of the key hallmarks of entrepreneurship include:

  • Courage to embark on new endeavors and risk-taking tolerance
  • Resilience and the capacity to handle stress and challenges
  • Tenacity to prevail under undesirable or challenging circumstances
  • Flexibility and tolerance to adapt to changing environments
  • Decisiveness and the ability to act on the decisions with resolute conviction
  • Capacity for financial planning
Mara Perez
Mara Perez
Mara Perez, Ph.D. As Founder and Principal of Mara Perez, Fund Development and Planning Services, Mara provides fundraising and strategic planning services to non-profits. Mara has helped over seventy organizations obtain funding, design innovative work strategies, and execute growth plans. Mara holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Chicago. Community service includes: 2010-present Board Member of Marin General Hospital; 2002-2012 Board Member Canal Alliance, twice Board President; 2005 Spirit of Marin Award, Business Person of the Year; Coro Leadership Community Fellow. She has published articles about immigration, social change, and fundraising. Born in Argentina, Mara resides in California.

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