Cover Story: Organization helping Latino business owners

By Sarah Batista - bio l email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The National Hispanic Entrepreneurs' Organization (NHEO) has appointed ambassadors from across the country to help Latino business owners get their businesses off the ground.

The ambassadors were chosen by the NHEO selection committee based on their leadership potential, ethics, communication and interpersonal skills, and track record of results.

Three of the ten ambassadors appointed are from Charlotte.

When Abel Bonilla relocated from New York City three years ago, he knew opening his small flower shop would be an uphill battle.

"We started from zero," he said.

His challenge was finding a group that could connect him with the right people to build his business.

"I didn't have any idea which organization or place could help us," said Bonilla.

Not knowing who to turn to can be a major setback for small business owners. The issue inspired David Vargas and Agustin Velasquez to become ambassadors of a non-profit group called the National Hispanic Entrepreneurs organization. Their mission is simple-- help Hispanic business owners get ahead.

"[We're] basically trying to provide the resources," said Velasquez.

"That's where I come in as a marketing major to help these people promote their business," said Vargas.

Vargas says he's working with Bonilla to strengthen the company's website and network. For example, "we could connect him with a wedding planner that needs flowers."

The organization is relying on a grassroots approach to connect with each business owner and meet face to face.

Bonilla says business is steady, but slow because of the economy. He could use the marketing advice. His website,, is growing, orders are trickling in and he's grateful for the free help.

"That's what we need in small business, somebody to give us a hand or help," said Bonilla. "This is the best way to improve your business or get more customers."

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