Jorge Antezana: Creating More Opportunities For Latino Businesses

WI Latino News


In recent years, Wisconsin has seen massive spikes in business ownership among nonwhite entrepreneurs, yet according to a report by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the state continues to have an overall low number of businesses owned by people of color.

Wisconsin ranks 50th for the rate of business ownership among minorities. Businesses owned by people of color represent 10.9% of total businesses despite people of color representing 19.2% of the state’s total population. Underrepresentation in business ownership is especially acute for Black and Latino owners

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Wisconsin has over 21,000 Latino-owned businesses. These businesses are found in various sectors, such as construction, retail, food services, healthcare, and professional services. Latino entrepreneurs bring unique perspectives, skills, and experiences to the business landscape, enriching the economic and cultural fabric of the state.

One of the challenges faced by Latino, Hispanic small businesses in Wisconsin is access to capital. Many Latino entrepreneurs struggle to secure funding to start or expand their businesses, limiting their growth potential. Language barriers, lack of financial literacy, and limited access to traditional banking services can further hinder their ability to obtain financing. However, organizations like the Wisconsin Latino Chamber of Commerce (WLCC) and local community development financial institutions (CDFIs) provide resources, training, and support to help Latino entrepreneurs navigate these challenges and access the capital they need to succeed.

In April, the WLCC named Jorge Antezana as its CEO.  “I am honored to take on this new role and excited to continue working alongside our dedicated team and partners to advance the mission of the Wisconsin Latino Chamber of Commerce,” Antezana said in a press release, reported The CAP Times. “Together, we will strive to create more opportunities for Latino businesses and foster economic growth throughout our great state.” Antezana has been a driving force behind the Chamber’s mission to empower and advocate for Latino-owned businesses in the state.

A native of Peru, Antezana was the Chamber’s vice president of operations before becoming interim executive director. In addition to a career in various professional leadership roles, he has been a part-time instructor at Madison College and a mentor with the SCORE business entrepreneur program.

Jorge Antezana participates in “Pulso Económico en Wisconsin” on Movida Radio

One of Antezana’s key priorities for the WLCC is to foster a supportive and collaborative ecosystem for Latino entrepreneurs in Wisconsin. He believes that by working together and leveraging their collective strengths, Latino-owned businesses can overcome barriers, seize opportunities, and achieve sustainable growth.

“We provide face-to-face services for the people who come into the Chamber through appointments,” Antezana said in an interview with The Capital City Hues. “Also for sure, we use software to meet with businesses across the state as well. We have programs and services running in both platforms. We have one-on-one meetings with people via the internet. Sometimes people need to have one-on-one meetings because they need to talk about things that are very confidential. We have workshops and classes where we meet with groups of people at the same time.”

“We have our Tu Empresa Program where we graduated 120 new business owners,” Antezana said of one of the mainstay Chamber programs to promote business development. “We have other programs like Futuro. It’s an initiative to provide a new childcare businesses in the market. We are talking about 15-18 new businesses. Also we have a program called Secndero. This is for young people 15-25 years old. We started to run the program in 2022. Now, we have a cohort where we graduated close to 30 new entrepreneurs. The Chamber is now providing certification for people who want to open a business in the food service sector through SERVSAFE. Also we provide Quickbooks training for people to manege their businesses financially. In 2024, we want to start to provide OSHA certification classes to businesses as well.”

Wisconsin Latino Chamber of Commerce event celebrating International Women’s Day, Friday March 8.

WLCC celebrated Latina business owners at an International Women’s Day event in March.

“It’s really impactful for the community to have events on this day that commemorate the work that women have been putting on throughout the years,” Mercadera Co-Founder Nataly Andrade said. Many business owners at the second annual event sold and displayed their products while also showing their passion for their business.

In addition to economic contributions, Latino, Hispanic small businesses also play a vital role in preserving and promoting cultural heritage. Many Latino-owned businesses in Wisconsin offer products, services, and experiences that reflect their cultural roots and traditions. These businesses not only provide a sense of identity and pride for the Latino community but also contribute to the diversity and vibrancy of the state’s business landscape.

Cover Photo: Jorge Antezana, CEO, Wisconsin Latino Chamber of Commerce (WLCC) (Credit WLCC)

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