Each year, Hispanic Heritage Month marks a time to celebrate the importance of Hispanic American culture and its countless contributions to the fabric of our society, economy, and history.
As the fastest growing demographic in the United States, Hispanic Americans make up almost 20 percent of our population. Against that backdrop, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) reports there are nearly five million Hispanic-owned businesses in the United States, contributing more than $800 billion to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP).
What’s more, that impact and growth only continues to rise with the population, as almost one in four new businesses are Hispanic-owned. In fact, according to the SBA, “in the decade preceding the pandemic, the number of Hispanic business owners increased 34 percent compared to an increase of just one percent among non-Hispanic business owners.” One study found that “Latinos are the most likely to start a business among any group” and another reported that Latino-owned businesses are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. small business ecosystem.
The Hispanic business community truly embodies America’s spirit of innovation and entrepreneurialism.
As we saw during the pandemic, many Latino business owners innovated, adapted, and upended their normal operations to meet the moment and blunt some of the pandemic’s hardships. Many businesses initially struggled, but by leveraging technology, from restaurants using apps for curbside pick-up and contactless delivery to gyms offering virtual classes, businesses were able to serve consumers and survive beyond the hardest days of the pandemic.
Now, we’re seeing that innovative spirit flourish once again as the world continues to evolve and consumer habits change following the pandemic. Digital tools, e-commerce platforms, and social media advertising have made an indelible impact on small business operations, helping Latino businesses create more efficiencies, while reaching a broader range of consumers. This means business owners are finding ways to save, while at the same time growing revenue sources, allowing them to expand, create jobs, and give back to their communities.
Looking forward, technology will continue to be a vital resource for Hispanic-owned businesses, helping them enter previously untapped markets and opportunities. But these technological tools are at risk. Congress is currently considering anti-innovation legislation that would hamstring the digital ecosystem and inadvertently harm Latino and other small- and medium-sized businesses across America.
Policymakers must look to smart policy solutions that support and grow America’s tech innovation instead of passing legislation that could harm the tech tools and resources small businesses rely on. We owe it to the many new and existing Hispanic-owned businesses, and to the ones who’ve fought to come out on the other side of the pandemic, to protect these tools and services as they continue to overcome challenges, innovate, and thrive.