Rural Latinos Achieve Success

After attending RDI’s Pasos al Éxito training, participants Teno Herrera and Jose Luis Cuna felt they were ready to pursue their dreams of opening their own businesses. Offered by RDI since 2011, Pasos al Éxito is a Spanish-language program that provides financial and small business skills and resources to rural Latinos who aspire to be entrepreneurs. The program consists of 33 hours of facilitated curriculum per region and includes two courses, Money Smart and Starting a Business @ Home, as well as access to technical assistance and resources to support participants in their journey to become successful entrepreneurs.
The Pasos al Éxito program fills a critical gap in supporting Latino entrepreneurs. While the growth in Latino-owned businesses is positive, Latino business owners and firms still face barriers to attaining equity with non-Latino owned businesses. Latino entrepreneurs are much more likely to use personal savings to fund their businesses and often have less personal wealth and savings to draw on or use as collateral when starting a business compared to other entrepreneurs. They are also much more likely to use informal financing mechanisms, such as taking loans from family and friends rather than from banks. In addition to providing Latino entrepreneurs with the tools necessary to become successful business owners, Pasos al Éxito works to reduce barriers between rural Latinos and service providers, including banks and other financial institutions.
Teno Herrera and Jose Luis Cuna both participated in Pasos al Exito’s Starting a Business @ Home course in Ontario, OR. Before taking the course, Teno knew she had the ability within herself to open her own beauty salon, but the training she received provided the tools and the confidence she needed to get started, plus it reinforced her belief that she could do it.
Teno opened Teno’s Beauty Salon in Ontario in 2013, and she continues to apply what she learned in the program on a daily basis, both in her business and in her personal life. The knowledge she gained about expenses, “everything counts and everything costs,” has become a habit for her. The program helped her better understand the value of saving money and helped her believe she could succeed. Teno now believes anyone can succeed if they have the resources and knowledge.
Jose had a dream of opening a food stand, and when he heard about the Pasos al Éxito program from a neighbor, he decided to attend so he could get a better understanding of business and start taking the steps toward opening his own business. Jose attended the Money Smart training in 2011 and the Starting a Business @ Home course in 2012. In the classes, Jose learned to save money, and he gained a better understanding of how to separate his personal and business expenses. His favorite part of the training was the class interaction and the access to local resources. Through Pasos al Éxito, Jose learned how to market himself and he made valuable connections in the community to help support his business.
Jose opened his business, Don Pepe’s Taco Truck, in Ontario in October 2013. He hopes to someday open his own restaurant, and eventually, he would like to help organize a market of several businesses under one roof. 
A two-year microenterprise development program, Pasos al Éxito builds the entrepreneurial capacity of rural Latino community participants in three ways: training in basic personal and business finance, instruction in starting a small microenterprise business, and access to support and resources as participants take their first steps toward success.