The Difference between My Taquero and Tory Burch

No matter what neighborhood you come from, you see entrepreneurs at work everywhere. From your mom selling those delicious tamales to your brother fixing cars at his own home; entrepreneurs surround us. So, what distinguishes the entrepreneurs we see from the Tory Burch’s of the world?In a recent article, “Entrepreneurs don’t have a special gene for risk—they come from families with money” by Aimee Groth, she argues that the common trait between successful entrepreneurs is “access to financial capital--family money, an inheritance, or a pedigree and connections that allow for access to financial stability.” With security, entrepreneurs can take risks. Unfortunately, our neighbor or family member who is starting a business does not have the luxury to take those kind of risks. I recently helped a street vendor apply to LURN’s Semi’a Fund, a micro loan program which offers loans to healthy food entrepreneurs. He comes from a family of bakers. When he arrived to the United States, he continued to bake with  the dream of  selling the traditional bread from his hometown of Puebla, Mexico. Last year, my client lost his job at a bakery and took this opportunity to start his own business selling in the streets of South L.A. In this way, he has found great success but now he needs some capital to expand his business beyond the sidewalk. He can’t turn to his family or friends for money to buy a new oven and mixer. As UC Berkeley economist Ben Levine states, “If one does not have money in the form of a family with money, the chances of becoming an entrepreneur drop quite a bit.”Towards the end of our meeting, my client shared that one day he wishes to open up his own bakery and retire with his wife. I believe that his experiences, especially with capital and assistance, will prove Levine’s claim that “when basic needs are met, it’s easier to be creative; when you know you have a safety net, you are more willing to take risks.” How can we help make it easy for entrepreneurs to be creative? How do we build safety nets for entrepreneurs in our communities? How can we close the gap between more privileged entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs who don’t have the same access to resources? I believe that one of the first steps is recognizing that privilege exists. With this awareness, we can begin to form clear solutions that can support these types entrepreneurs such as new programs that facilitate access to capital needs in our communities and other important resources.