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Multicultural Entrepeneurial Institute offers Latino youth in Milwaukee a taste of business ownership; applications now open

Prospective Entrepreneurial Leadership Pipeline students listen to program alumni at an orientation program Thursday. Photo supplied.

The Multicultural Entrepreneurial Institute Incorporated has announced that its fourth bilingual Entrepreneurial Leadership Pipeline program will run from 9 am to noon every Saturday for 14 weeks beginning February 17 to noon for 14 weeks. The program is currently seeking applicants.

The program empowered 56 enthusiastic young Latinos and Latinas by instilling in them a culturally relevant entrepreneurial mindset, honing their leadership skills, and providing essential business training in three cohorts over the course of 2023, the organization said in a press release. The program has been made possible through a competitive grant provided by the Greater Wisconsin Opportunity Fund.

The Entrepreneurial Leadership Pipeline program offers comprehensive training to young adults, encompassing vital components such as mindset cultivation, business coaching, and the opportunity for paid internships. As a token of appreciation for their dedication and completion of the program, all participants are rewarded with a stipend. A captivating business plan competition is held, and the top three performers are awarded scholarships ranging from $300 to $1,000 to use to support their entrepreneurial ventures or pursuing higher education. In collaboration with Erie Insurance, 30 program participants have also been presented with Chromebooks and various other prizes courtesy of small business owners, including school supplies, gift certificates, and more.

Program director Dr. Nelson Soler said the current generation of young people has a unique entrepreneurial energy, which he say in program participants last year.

“They have a good grasp of what being a leader is and they have a good grasp of what it is to be an entrepreneur and what entrepreneurial life entails,” he said. “They all had that drive, that passion … this generation is really trying to drive their future, and I’m really excited about it.”

Soler said about 20 students in each cohort explored businesses like flower arranging, engineering, branded apparel, video game development and more. Twelve weekly classes with local business leaders help the students shape their business plans, and two independent sessions with business coaches help the students put the finishing touches on those plans.

“We’re trying to make sure they have choices, that they understand the mindset of an entrepreneur that is not only to open a business where you can have a real mindset of passion, purpose, and planning,” Soler said.

Soler said fostering entrepreneurship in the Latino community is especially important, as Latino people are 34 percent more likely to start a business – but about two of every three Latino-owned businesses is self-funded, which limits the kind of businesses people can start.

“When you have generations that have been deprived of capital, and forced to finance ourselves, there are going to be some limitations on the type of business that can open,” Soler said.High school students with aspirations are strongly encouraged to apply. Potential participants can call 414-383-4633, email cindy@multiculturalinstitute.com or fill out the form at this link. Applications will be accepted until February 17, and an orientation will be held closer to that date.