Things That Matter

Here Are 13 Latino Innovators That Prove Latinos Can Do Anything They Put Their Minds To

A few months ago a creative group from Mexico helped raise the spirits of their fellow Mexicans after gaining inspiration from Guillermo del Toro’s simple yet effective answer of “I’m Mexican” after his Golden Globes win. The viral video has been viewed more than 1 million times on YouTube and features Mexican artists, scientists and pioneers in their respective fields who broke down walls and surpassed obstacles.

Here’s the video that has inspired millions of Mexicans.

With lines from the video such as, “No. You don’t need contacts. You don’t need money. You don’t need the easy road. Because in Mexico, opportunities aren’t found—they’re created,” how can you not feel pumped up?

If you need some inspiration this week, here are 13 other Latinos who have used their talent, grit and hunger to create advancements in everything from tech to sports.

1. Ellen Ochoa

2. Guillermo González Camarena

3. Luis von Ahn

4. Susana Ibarra

Ibarra is setting her sights on the horizon as a pilot for Kuwait Airlines. She became El Salvador’s first female commercial airline pilot in 2015 when she was 29 and has now become Kuwait Airline’s second female pilot.

5. Oscar Hijuelos

Cuban-American novelist Hijuelos’ bestseller book ‘The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love’ earned critical acclaim and made him the first Latino to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction back in 1990. The novel tells the story of the Castillo brothers who emigrate from Havana to New York City and transform into the Mambo Kings of NYC after playing in an orchestra.

6. Maria Contreras-Sweet

Born in Guadalajara, Contreras-Sweet is most-widely known as the Administrator of the Small Business Administration under President Barack Obama. She was also the executive chair and founder of ProAmérica Bank, the first Latino-formed commercial bank and also founded Contreras-Sweet Enterprises, a marketing and research firm. Contreras-Sweet’s extensive career extends from the public and private sector to corporate America.

7. Adriana Cisneros

At the age of 33, Cisneros became the CEO of Cisneros Group, a family-owned multibillion dollar media and real estate enterprise founded by her grandfather in Venezuela. She joined the family business at 25 and launched its digital media division, focusing on online advertising networks, e-commerce, social gaming and crowd-funding. After five years in the role, she was given the company reigns as its CEO.

8. Linda Alvarado

Alvarado placed her bid to become the first Latina to become a co-owner of a major league team when she became co-owner of the Colorado Rockies. Her success in the business sector began when she started Alvarado Construction with a loan from her parents in 1976. Back then, Latinas could not get access to either capital or even a credit card. Now the company has completed several projects including stadiums, hotels and an aquarium.

9. Dr. Helen Rodriguez Trías

10. Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa

Known as “Dr. Q,” Dr. Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa rose to become the chair of neurologic surgery at Mayo Clinic Jacksonville and also co-founded the non-profit Mission: BRAIN, Bridging Resources and Advancing International Neurosurgery. After moving to California from Mexico, Dr. Quinones-Hinojosa worked as a migrant farm worker and put himself through school at a community college. He then transferred to University of California, Berkeley and attended medical school at Harvard Medical School. He has written an autobiography on his life, Becoming Dr. Q.

11. Jessica Márquez

Named one of CNET’s 20 Most Influential Latinos in Tech in 2017, engineer Márquez began working for NASA in 2007 and helps to plan and schedule software tools for space missions. She received her bachelor’s from Princeton University and her Master of Science degree in Aeronautics/Astronautics and her Ph.D. in human-systems engineering from MIT.

12. Alberto Villarreal

Also on last year’s CNET List of 20 Most Influential Latinos in Tech, Villareal currently works as the creative lead at Google for the hardware group. In his past jobs, Villareal has worked for automotive-design studios in Europe and launched a strategic design firm in San Francisco. He has also been featured as a TEDx speaker in Mexico City.

13. Wendy Carrillo

A former undocumented immigrant from El Salvador, Carrillo was raised in East Los Angeles and worked for 10 years as a radio host, writer and producer before switching to politics. She is currently an assemblymember for the California State Assembly’s 51st District, representing parts of northeastern Los Angeles and East Los Angeles.


READ: Meet The Trailblazing Latinos That Made It Onto The Forbes ’30 Under 30′ List

Which Latinos are inspiring you to pursue your dreams? Let us know in the comments and share this list with your friends!

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Latinos Are Running More Businesses Than Ever, But They’re Still More Likely to Be Denied Funding By Big Banks

Things That Matter

Latinos Are Running More Businesses Than Ever, But They’re Still More Likely to Be Denied Funding By Big Banks

Photo via Getty Images

The United States Latino population is steadily growing and with that, the demographics are shifting. More and more Latinos are becoming the first ones in their family to go to college, enter the white collar workforce, and increasingly, open up their own businesses.

And while all this change feels like progress, it also comes with its own set of hurdles.

A new study showed that Latino-owned business are significantly less likely to be approved for loans, despite surpassing the national revenue growth average.

Latino-owned businesses are skyrocketing, but banks still don’t want to finance them. “Latino [business] revenue growth should be a key metric in helping them gain capital, but they continue to fall short,” said Stanford research analyst Marlene Orozco to NBC.

The study, conducted by the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative, found that 50% of white business-owners who applied for a loan of $100,000 over the last five years were approved. In contrast, only 20% of Latino business-owners were approved.

Unfortunately, this phenomenon extended to federal COVID-19 relief, like the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). PPP was meant to help small businesses who were negatively impacted by the pandemic.

The thing is, the federal government ultimately relied on traditional, large banks to approve or deny applicants.

Latinos and Black people were denied COVID-19 Paycheck Protection Program loans at significantly higher rates than their white peers.

Even when successful entrepreneurs like Los Angeles-based restaurateur David Favela applied for a PPP loan, he was denied on the basis of not being “bankable”. Favela is the owner of three successful restaurants and breweries in California as well as being a 2020 James Beard Award finalist.

He was denied a PPP loan because he hadn’t funded his businesses with “traditional” capital (i.e. a loan from a big bank). When he started his business in 2013, he relied on his own savings as well as funds from family members.

But this type of financing is common among people of color. POC often rely on family members and/or crowdsourcing to kickstart their businesses. Unfortunately, big banks look down on that sort of non-traditional funding.

Traditional banks are more likely to approve applicants they have preexisting relationships with.

And people of color are less likely to have established relationships with large banks because, well, they don’t trust them. And arguably, for good reason. So, the plight of small business-owners of color becomes a vicious and endless cycle.

“Latinos are making strides in starting businesses and growing,” said Orozco. “Despite these trends, securing financing remains a challenge.”

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Artists Open Cuba’s First Ever Sex Store, But It Won’t Last Long

Things That Matter

Artists Open Cuba’s First Ever Sex Store, But It Won’t Last Long

Cuba has come a long way since the communist rule of Fidel Castro. A lot of restrictions have been lifted including travel from the U.S. to the island (despite some Trump-era issues). Yet, there’s still a lot that the government there forbids including some luxuries that we can easily buy anytime we please.

Cuba forbids the sale of any obscene items, which means there are no sex shops until now.

Credit: consolezvous1 / Instagram

In New York, there are sex shops in every neighborhood. Even in the Bible belt, you can score sex toys at Adam & Eve, but in Cuba, it’s a whole different story. The island does not give out licenses or permits to vendors who sell anything sexual related. If you want a dildo, you have to sneak it into the country in your suitcase — that’s what the New York Post is reporting.

A group of artists successfully opened a sex pop-up store called “Consolez Vous” because technically it is “art” and not a typical business.

Credit: consolezvous1 / Instagram

Yanahara Mauri, Javier Alejandro Bobadilla, and Joan Díaz sought out to open a pop-up sex shop at this year’s Havana Biennial and to their surprise were approved.

“We want to break the taboos,” Mauri told the Post. “In the rest of the world, this is normal now.”

The group creates the sex toys in Cuba and use resources such as “entwined fish line for whips and resin for dildos.”

Credit: consolezvous1 / Instagram

While demand continues to increase, according to the publication, some customers have complained that their sex toys aren’t as smooth as the silicone products that are sold everywhere else.

“At the end of the day, we are not harming anyone,” Ernesto said. “On the contrary, we are giving people benefits.”

The sex shop might be a pop-up but a lot of people are hoping they could become a regular occurrence on the island.

Credit: consolezvous1 / Instagram

What do you think about this pop up shop? Let us know your thoughts by commenting on the Facebook post.

READ: Here’s How Cuba’s Tumultuous History Forced A Cuban Diaspora That Changed The World

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