Stellar panel of entrepreneurs sheds light on Hispanic marketing.

Alan Carsrud and Sebastian Aroca

Bring together a distinguished group of entrepreneurs, powerhouse sponsors, a hospitable setting, and an audience of about 85 local entrepreneurs, members of local Hispanic businesses, and many college students, and something exciting is bound to happen.

It did—at the second annual Ford Motor Company Mi Negocio Boardroom titled “Hispanic Marketing: A Key Component for Entrepreneurial Success.” The symposium was held in conjunction with AOL Latino and the Eugenio Pino and Family Global Entrepreneurship Center on the Florida International University campus.

“We were approached by Ford and AOL Latino to be the academic sponsor this year, which was a great honor for us,” said Alan Carsrud, executive director of the Pino Center, who moderated the panel. “Together we will help the Hispanic community in South Florida seize the entrepreneurial opportunities available to them.”

Keynote panelist was Armando Ojeda, Ford Motor Company, director of supplier diversity development.

“The Mi Negocio web site and Boardroom Series deepens our historic relationship and ongoing dialogue with Hispanic entrepreneurs,” he said. “We are proud to partner with the Pino Center to help Hispanic entrepreneurs access the resources they need to succeed.”

Panelists were Richard Bull, EMI US Latin, vice president of marketing; Sam Verdeja, Hispanic Publishing Associates, CEO and publisher; Grace Villamayor, Hertz International, director of sales and marketing for Latin America, Mexico, and Caribbean; and Xavier Serbia, Xavier Serbia Multimedia, financial analyst and founder.

“I’m proud to be part of this event, working with entrepreneurial leaders like Ford and Florida International University,” said Serbia, who serves on the Ford Mi Negocio panel of advisors. “Both organizations have worked to strengthen, empower, and expand Hispanic businesses across America with specially-designed services and resources.”

Sebastian Aroca, a Master of International Business student in the College of Business Administration’s Chapman Graduate School, was enthusiastic about the experience.

“The event enriched my knowledge of the Latino market and its various segments,” he said. “I also got helpful tips about how to tap into this emerging market successfully. I was very pleased, too, to see companies such as Ford and AOL getting so involved with the local Hispanic community—a sign of both social responsibility and wisdom.”

A special five-some also was in attendance: the finalists of the El Visionario competition. This online contest, sponsored by Ford Motor Company and AOL Latino, seeks to identify Hispanic small business owners who embody the entrepreneurial spirit and who demonstrate the progress of Hispanics in conceiving and running successful small businesses. The winner will be announced the week of November 15th.

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