Hispanic entrepreneurs contribute $10 billion a year to Arizona economy

In five years Pilar and Carlos Calderon built a thriving childcare business that grew from serving four kids to maximum capacity.

“We have 50 children and it’s actually full now,” said Calderon, owner of Mi Escuelita Child Care. “So now we have another goal to expand it again. We are looking to open a second center.”

There is a waiting list for “Mi Escuelita” which offers bilingual childcare for kids five and under.

“We are very happy because we are giving a good service with quality for families,” Pilar said. “It has been hard but it was not impossible. We know that everyone can do it.”

The Calderons left Mexico City ten years ago looking for better opportunities. “We love Mexico, we love our country but we were looking for a best place,” Pilar said.

According to 2010 Census data, nearly one in five of all business owners in the state are foreign-born. Many of those small business owners are Latino entrepreneurs.

“Hispanic owned businesses in the state of Arizona, the 123,000 that exist, contribute about $10 billion a year to the economy,” said James Garcia with the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Latino-owned businesses grew by 70% between 2007 and 2012. The number of businesses owned by Latinas in Arizona more than doubled between 2007 and 2014 from 19,367 to 41,843.

Stephanie Vasquez started her business, Fair Trade Cafe and Community Kitchen, in downtown Phoenix almost 10 years ago.

“It was a rough start. I opened up this location right before what we call the recession,” Vasquez said. “Over the years I have seen very strong support from my local community and people from all over different cities.”

Vasquez has done so well she opened a second café nearly five years ago.

“I think the big thing is not just supporting Hispanic small businesses, it’s supporting small businesses and overall supporting each other,” Vasquez said.