As we celebrate Women's History Month, it is important to highlight the strides our nation's Latina entrepreneurs have made in recent years. Latina-owned businesses are the fastest-growing segment among women-owned enterprises—starting companies at six times the national average. Their businesses alone contribute an average of $56 billion to America’s economy each year.
The impact of Latina business owners is felt across the board. In fact, they have played a major part in the 44 percent growth of Hispanic-owned businesses in recent years, which collectively boost the American economy by an estimated $465 billion annually.
Nearly 1.6 million Latinas were enrolled in college in 2010. In fact, over 64 percent of master's degrees completed by Hispanics are women. As more and more Latinas are becoming empowered through education, it is our duty to foster their entrepreneurialism by encouraging them to take on more leadership positions across both the public and private sectors. President Obama is doing just that. From promoting innovation through the launch of Startup America, to issuing thousands of microloans and investing in women-owned small businesses, the Obama administration is encouraging entrepreneurship and laying the foundation for an economy built to last.
Although Latinas are making strides in opening businesses and pursuing higher education, there is still much work to be done. Of 20 female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, only four are women of color, and none are Latina. Currently, only about 5 percent of women who sit on corporate boards are Latinas.
As we move forward, it is important for the business community to adopt practices that not only empower Latinas, but all women entrepreneurs. Women are an incredible asset to the American economy and we must acknowledge their proven leadership potential in business, government, education and every sector that makes our country great.