TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Tampa Bay Latin Chamber of Commerce and the Tampa Bay Wave have partnered to offer the region’s first tech accelerator solely for Latin entrepreneurs.
The Latin Tech Accelerator is a new program offering training, opportunities and funding for Latin entrepreneurs looking to open a tech start-up.
“Me, as a first generation American, what I’ve heard is struggle,” Cesar Hernandez said. “This is why I struggled to get you into this country. It’s a theme across immigrant communities, but here’s an opportunity for the first time in God knows how many generations where Latino’s don’t have to think about survival, they can actually create.”
Hernandez is the CEO of Omni Public and Chairman of the Tampa Bay Latin Chamber of Commerce. He has been working on the Latin Tech Accelerator since 2020.
“Our mothers and fathers worked the fields, God bless them for it, but I’m no longer in the field,” Hernandez said. “I’m trying to compete in this workforce, compete professionally and I needed to create an area where those individuals can thrive.”
This four month program is designed to match participants with expert mentors and successful Latino/Latina businesses owners in the tech industry. Within the four months, the entrepreneurs will work on their pitch decks that they will then present during a “Pitch Night.” The program will also help participants get access to venture capital, which will help develop and sustain their business.
According to Crunchbase, only 2% of U.S. startups with a Latino founder received funding from venture capital firms in 2021. The disparity within this research is why the Latin Chamber partnered with the Tampa Bay Wave to create the Latin Tech Accelerator.
The Tampa Bay Wave is Florida’s number one accelerator. They have several programs training entrepreneurs and helping them obtain funding for future businesses. The organization wants to help close the gap when it comes to racial disparities within tech.
“If you’re in Florida and you happen to be a Latino or Latina entrepreneur working on a start up the odds are stacked against you,” said Linda Olsen, CEO and Founder of Tampa Bay Wave. “We want to change that. We want a program that will give the Latino and Latina founders in Tampa Bay the optimal access to capital.”
Both the Latin Chamber and the Tampa Bay Wave want those coming out of the program to be successful tech founders.
“The aim is ten years, 20 years down the line, these Latin founders have an exit, build billion dollar companies and then re-invest that back into the community,” Hernandez said. “That is how you build generational wealth.”
The program is free. U.S. Congresswoman Kathy Castor secured $500,000 in federal funding for the project. Applications are open until October 6th.