Group aims to help Spanish businesses grow

- "Local First Arizona" has a special 6 month program called "La Fuerza" that teaches Spanish speakers how to run their own businesses. Experts teach students everything from finances, to marketing, to customer service. The program is helping local Spanish speakers make their entrepreneurship dreams a reality.

At this outdoor Phoenix mixer hosted by Local First Arizona, valley entrepreneurs share stories and resources. Some attending are graduates of "Fuerza Local" an entrepreneurship program designed specially for Spanish Speakers.

"There are a lot of resources in English for anyone who wants to start a business. This program is special because it is in Spanish, it's taught in Spanish, by local Spanish entrepreneurs that are experts in their area," said Edgar Olivo.

Edgar Olivio oversees the accelerator program which accepts 48 students each year. Students use their own money plus seed funds to establish credit and learn everything from business planning, to marketing, to customer service, taught by experts like Elaman Rodriguez.

"They stay up morning noon and night so you see their passion their whole livelihood is on the line and they're willing to take that risk because of their dream," said Rodriguez.

Dreams like opening a coffee shop serving up family recipes. Bernie Reina a 1st time entrepreneur opened Colados Coffee in Avondale.

"Fuerza local has been able to help them promote and expand and get exposure and I believe now he's looking at opening his 2nd location in under a year," said Olivo.

Other businesses like the Garcia family's "Popcorn and More" and Maria Pina's "La Palapa" have also succeeded, a point of pride for Local First Arizona founder Kimber Lanning.

"We're helping them gain access to credit at fair market rates, and really watching their businesses thrive. The success stories we've seen so far are phenomenal," said Kimber Lanning.

Fuerza Local is currently accepting applications for its Spring 2016 class. Applications are due December 8th. 

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