Hispanic Community Promotes Self-Employment

Thursday, February 5th 2009, 5:50 pm
By: News 9

By Jennifer Pierce, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- In this tough economy, some Oklahomans are turning to self-employment. The Oklahoma City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is helping citizens go from the 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., to being their own boss.

The Hispanic chamber is looking for Oklahomans who are ready to venture out on their own, but you have to have more than just a good idea to make it into this self-employment program.

At only 23-years-old, Fernando Espinoza is his own boss. He sells insurance to a growing population.

"My personal goal was to help the Hispanic community understand insurance," Fernando Espinoza said.

Espinoza is the Oklahoma City Hispanic Chamber's first success story. He saw the chamber's incubator program, the Hispanic Business Accelerator Program, as an opportunity to expand.

"You get to a point, in my line of work, where you stop being a salesman or an agent and you step back and look at it as a business and you want to make it grow," the 23-year-old said.

The chamber recently expanded the incubator program. Now, Executive Director David Castillo needs to fill these new offices with Oklahomans that are ready and determined to start their own business.

"Maybe the people who have been laid off and it's time, they have an idea and have something in place possibly to start their own business, those are the people we're looking for," Castillo said.

The chamber provides the space at a low cost, along with telephone and internet access. The chamber's Executive Director sees the program as a way to build the economy, which is exactly what Espinoza is doing.

"To own a business, it takes the type of person who will come in and work on their day off, that will do work even if nobody comes in the office, that will work when nobody is watching," Espinoza said.

Those interested in the three year incubator program have to go through a rigorous application and interview process. They also have to have a business plan that must be approved by an advisory committee.

Those accepted into the program have to attend self-employment training classes provided by MetroTech.

Find general and contact information about the Hispanic Business Accelerator Program on the Greater Oklahoma City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce's Web site.