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Latino Trade Network kicks off as a new resource for business owners

Jaime Lopes
The Latino Trade Network was founded by a group of entrepreneurs who wanted to provide more opportunities and resources for their community, which they found can sometimes be lacking.

Last summer, six entrepreneurs met together to figure out how to better support one another and others like them.

Amner Martinez, Yeymi Tobar, Jaime Leiva, Rocio Hermosillo Tarin, Chris Noth, Kenji Nakata decided one way to do that would be to create a new networking resource for Latino-owned businesses, business owners and entrepreneurs. They named it the Latino Trade Network.

After the West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce hosted the Black and Brown Business Summit last April, Martinez approached the chamber to partner on the endeavor. It agreed to help sponsor and organize the kick off event.

“It's time for us to unite in that sense, and start sharing resources, start sharing knowledge that will help everyone grow even more and also become a place where we can be a little bit more influential in different areas," co-founder Jaime Leiva said.

He said he believes the Latino business community can empower each other by sharing resources and experiences, including new businesses and well established ones.

Tom Florian, the director of membership and growth at the West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce, added he is looking forward to seeing another aspect.

“The mentorship is a key piece as we continue to build the networking and the connections among these could be brand new entrepreneurs, small businesses that have just opened and to have a network designed to provide mentors right away to help them grow and succeed," Florian said.

Leiva and the other co-founders plan for the kickoff introduction event to be followed by monthly or quarterly meetings to continue strengthening relationships within Latino communities, business communities and where they overlap. He said he hasn't seen many continued networking opportunities for Latino business owners.

"Currently, the options are very limited. I can't think of anything of this scale where people can meet. I know in the past, groups [and] different organization have done events for Latino networking. But more recently, those are really not in existence," he said, noting COVID-19 has caused some endeavors to stall.

He also thanked the Chamber for making the event happen. Florian said the West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce has been focused on being intentional and inclusive when providing opportunities to business owners.

The free evening of happy hour, networking and work development will take place at one of Leiva's family's restaurants from 4-6 p.m.: La Cuscatleca South 2580 Fleur Drive, Suite 101, Des Moines, IA 50321.

Registration is free and open on the West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce website, but Florian said walk-ins can also participate.

Kassidy was a reporter based in Des Moines