December 8, 2022

Latino Economic Development Center Cares for D.C. Food Entrepreneurs

The Latino Economic Development Center is doing what it can to help Latinx and Black business owners reach their full potential despite the setbacks the COVID-19 pandemic has caused. 

The District has a robust and diverse Latinx population. Nearly 80,000 people or 11.3 percent of the city’s population identify as “Hispanic or Latino,” according to 2019 Census data. Yet LEDC is one of few organizations in the District that offers bilingual programming for entrepreneurs. (Life Asset is another.) 

“It’s so hard when you’re trying to learn something in this other language,” Joan Bonilla explains. He runs Quick Catering Services and recently received training from LEDC. “You don’t get everything 100 percent. It’s very, very special, the LEDC teaching in our language.” 

Latinx-owned businesses are a key driver of the American economy. A 2019 Stanford University study found that the number of new Latinx-owned businesses continues to outpace the U.S. average. Over the past decade, the number of Latinx business owners nationally grew 34 percent, compared to 1 percent for all business owners nationally. 

According to the recent American University study “Assessing Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Latino-Owned Businesses in the DC-Metro Region,” there are 66,000 Hispanic-owned enterprises within the D.C. metro area, which represents 12 percent of all businesses in the region.

Despite the rapid growth, most of these businesses are small and have less access to capital than their white-owned counterparts—and during the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these businesses have suffered. Local organizations like LEDC have stepped up to offer creative ways to help them survive. 

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