COLUMBUS — “Girl power” is the driving force for the growth of Latino entrepreneurship. A new study from Stanford University shows that more people are starting their own business. The twist—researchers are seeing a spike in Hispanic females and millennials starting their own business ventures.
"Those young Latinas, in particular, I would tell them to go after their dreams,” said Columbus entrepreneur Natasha Pongonis.
Her dream of starting her own business hasn’t been easy but hasn’t quit.
"If I could start my business what I know today, 20 years ago I probably would be unstoppable,” said Pongonis.
She started her tech company called "Oye! Business Intelligence" in 2014. It’s a suiting name since the Spanish word "oye" means "listen" in English.
"For us, we see buying power as well as a need in providing research or information. It's really understanding the minority groups that are becoming majority in the United States,” said the CEO. “We collect all that data real time, identify ethnicity, gender, geographic location, and based on all that information on the inside we actually inform our clients.”
She thanks a lot of her success through networking, mentorship, and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. It literally opened the White House doors.
"It was a good opportunity to showcase all the great work that Central Ohio is doing with entrepreneurship,” said Pongonis as she recalled her visit to the White House in 2016.
She was among 10 other Latina entrepreneurs to sit with First Daughter Ivanka Trump.
"For Ivanka Trump, for her position of power how can she support and continue fostering leadership among Latinas in the United States,” said Pongonis. “It was a great opportunity to really have an open conversation regardless of your political decision, your political view, it was truly about how we can elevate Latinas, how we can elevate females running businesses in the United States.”
According to a new study done by the Stanford Graduate School of Business Latinas are driving entrepreneurship around the country.
"That's good for all of us, it leads to higher tax revenues, and it leads to higher opportunities for business partnerships,” said Paul Oyer the Economics Professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business and faculty advisor for the study called “Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative.”
The study shows in Ohio, 48% of Latino entrepreneurs are millennials compared to 40% of Latino entrepreneurs across the country. But it hasn't caught up with the number of Latinos living in the U.S.
"Our study is trying to figure out why aren't there more Latino businesses that are growing and what's holding them back,” said Oyer.
But the future looks bright, especially for Pongonis and her tech company.
"Starting 2018 we're actually going international so we're very excited about the next step,” said Pongonis.
If you want to check out the entire Stanford study it will be available Wednesday, February 7th for public view. Once it is available you can see it here: https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/faculty-research/publications/state-latino-entrepreneurship-2017