Spanish-language Latina Hope classes are equipping Hispanic women in South Texas with the necessary tools required to launch their own craft businesses, also helping those with pre-existing craft businesses to function more professionally. Established three years ago by the Chamber of Commerce in the border city of McAllen, Wells Fargo and United way, the program has already helped 140 women with their enterprises.

The free classes teach women the ins-and-outs of small businesses; how to craft candles, household ornaments, jewelry making, natural soups and knitted items; and financial literacy and entrepreneurial skills, which are meant to harness the creation of "a complementary income source" for the women attending the classes. Additionally, the workshops teach the "road to market" method of selling goods, reiterating the importance of reaching flea markets and craft sites.

"Every session there's one hour of business, and one hour of a skill," Eduardo Millet, vice president of business development and governmental affairs at the Chamber, said. "It's about business-using those skills."

Thirty-five-year-old Norma Rodriguez has found the courses advantageous; it's provided her with knowledge regarding product planning, developing marketing strategies, creating customer profiles, and how to effectively target consumers between 26 and 40 years old, and she learned to engage with that demographic via her web page, her Etsy page and social media. Lathering Love, her business that produces homemade soap with exfoliants and natural oils, has gained significantly from wisdom offered in the courses.

"Before the course, I had never thought much about the type of customer who's buying soap from me. I've opened myself up to being more social with other businesswomen," Rodriguez said, according to Fox News Latino.

Rodriguez advertises her products in McAllen stores, craft websites, and at events in the area. And, aside from the soap making workshops, she's taken advantage of cake decorating, and can now incorporate flower designs into the products that she sales.

"This is going to help them offset some of their living expenses," Thelma Garza, president of United Way of South Texas said. "For example: If the husband is working and earning $10 an hour, sometimes that's not enough to cover all of their household expenses."

Steve Ahlenius, president and CEO of the McAllen Chamber has stressed the importance of connecting aspiring Latina businesswomen with online marketplaces, local business and citywide events, seeing that it benefits the entire community.

Held at Calvary Baptist Church, the classes teach "entrepreneurial skills to bolster family income." Wells Fargo helps to assist the women with registering the names of their business to the courthouse, legitimizing them. Latina Hope participants also have an option to present their work to a small committee of business people, termed a "dolphin tank." If their presentation satisfies the three-person audience, they will receive $250 in supplies for their work.

Garza has called Latina Hope an opportunity to facilitate home-based and revenue-generating "self-sufficiency. "