Hundreds of Latina women gathered Saturday at the University of Texas at Tyler’s Ornelas Activity Center for a leadership conference and business expo.
The fourth annual event, which was organized by the Tyler Hispanic Business Alliance, aimed to inspire, encourage and help network female business owners of Hispanic origin, according to organizers.
“The reason why we design this type of event is to be able to nurture those Latina women that either have or want to start a business,” said Nancy Rangel, president and CEO of the Hispanic Business Alliance.
The event also welcomed Latina business owners and guest speakers who served as panelists and shared tips on professional development for women in their personal and professional lives.
Music, sales, a fashion show and food catered by Ruby’s Mexican Restaurant also were offered at Saturday’s seminar.
Organizers said the main focus of the conference was empowerment and inspiration for Latina women to become leaders in their communities.
“For me, it is an absolute honor to be able to be a part of this event.” Rangel said. “I cannot say enough about being able to have this idea, doing the research, learning about it and bringing the idea to the table and to our board years ago.”
Seminar topics varied from resilience to challenges that women face when trying to start a business.
“We all face challenges, so it’s nice to hear from women that we see are very successful in their areas or industries,” Rangel said.
She thanked UT Tyler, the organization’s premiere sponsor, which has been a longtime supporter.
Tyler Mayor Don Warren, board member and officer of the Hispanic Business Alliance, also attended the expo.
Warren, who was a member of the board before being elected mayor, said he enjoys seeing the courage and determination of women who want to start a business in the community. He said among other local organizations that he is part of, this one has a special meaning.
“I try to join organizations that I feel passionate about,” he said. “This is a board that I wanted to be a part of, and it might even become a lifetime gig.”
Warren believes these types of events are important to the community as they help build relationships among residents.
“In a city where Hispanics are the fastest growing population, it is important to be inclusive and support women who are risk takers and want to start a business for their own good,” he said.
Throughout the years, the city of Tyler has created courses and funded the Hispanic Business Alliance and other organizations that promote education for the Hispanic community.
Warren and Rangel have worked together for many years to make sure everyone who doesn’t speak English is aware of what the city can offer to help its residents.
Rangel, who is active among other local organizations, said showing support to Latina business women is massive as it helps not only the Hispanic population but also the economic development of the community.
She encourages other women to stand for each other and support Latina-owned businesses by leaving good reviews, sharing posts and donating to support local businesses.
“We want to be able to thrive and have that vitality for our Latina leaders and entrepreneurs,” she said.
Rangel encourages Latina women to pursue their dreams of being business owners and examples of success to other women who might be afraid of taking the next step in their professional life.
“As Latina women, know that there will always be challenges, but we are resilient, and we will overcome them,” she said. “Si se puede!”
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