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Stanford to Bolster Latino Entrepreneurs with Massive Database

First Posted: May 17, 2015 12:37 PM EDT
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Although Latinos have made significant strides within Silicon Valley and other entrepreneurial industries, accurate and cohesive data on just how Latinos are faring is still hard to come by. Hopefully, not for long, though, as Stanford University will be launching a new initiative aimed at strengthening Latino ties with the entrepreneurial world and creating one of the most comprehensive databases of Latino entrepreneurs.

Spearheaded by Stanford's Graduate School of Business and The Latino Business Action Network, the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative (SLEI) aims to provide key services to Latino entrepreneurs to help them thrive.

"Latinos have become an integral part of the New Mainstream in the U.S., and economic growth depends heavily on the accelerated social and economic development of this segment of our society," reads the SLEI website.

"We believe that the creation of a broader, rapidly expanding entrepreneurial class of Latinos constitutes the single, most powerful way to achieve this critical development," the statement continues. "A thriving Latino entrepreneurial class will provide the wealth needed to further drive the economic growth of both Latinos and our nation."

SLEI will be led by business school professor Jerry Porras, author of "Built to Last," and executive director Remy Arteaga. The two have been hard at work for the last few years creating the world's largest database of U.S.-based Hispanic entrepreneurs. The database is said to be the most comprehensive one to date, and one that Forbes contributor Giovanni Rodriguez (who claims to have seen the actual numbers) states is "larger than businesses or governments have been able to build."

Other organizations and accelerators such as LATISM, Manos Accelerator, Hispanicize and the Latino Startup Alliance all have had similar goals, but none carry the specific academic approach that Stanford does. Many of the organizations have seen success, just not on the scale they want due to the fact that, as Giovanni puts it, they are competing with similar services.

There's also the well known issue that Silicon Valley tends to be insulated, as many recent diversity reports from major companies like Google and Facebook reveal. Breaking in is hard and even harder when resources are scant.

SLEI hopes to change that. Thanks to the academic weight and approach, SLEI seems to have a put together an invaluable outlet for Latino entrepreneurs. Not only will SLEI provide a database that young companies can use to grow their brand and market research; the program also aims to create a vast mentorship and internship network. It's hard to tell how, and if, SLEI will change the game for Latino entrepreneurs, but the goals are lofty. If all goes well Porras eventually hopes to expand its services outside the Latino community.

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