SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — The South Dakota Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is less than a year old. But the group is already helping dozens of new business owners get started. The president and CEO says she saw a need and rallied around like-minded people.
Selene Zamorano-Ochoa owns two businesses. On Friday, she focused on her third job, president and CEO of the South Dakota Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
The chamber was created in 2021 after business leaders saw a need in the community.
“We have a lot of Latino businesses here in the state of South Dakota, but unfortunately we didn’t have a place to go and get support for the business, everything in Spanish we have amazing support, but unfortunately, you know language is a big barrier,” Zamorano-Ochoa said.
She oversees the organization’s first event. Planning started as a simple flea market, but grew into so much more.
“In our culture, we like to go a lot on the weekend to what’s called a pulga, translated as a Latin flea market,” Zamorano-Ochoa said.
You’ll find a wide variety of products for sale, from authentic foods to jewelry, clothing, lip gloss, and even handmade piñatas. There are dozens of small business owners here chasing the American dream. Work hard and become successful.
“There are over 30,000 Hispanics registered in the city alone, not counting those who are not registered and also in nearby cities, so the Hispanic community has great financial potential here and is growing,” Pastor Otto Garcia, who is the leader of the chamber. “So every week more people are moving into the city and there are people who want to have their own business.”
Even young entrepreneurs are learning the ropes. Yvonne Robles is one of those who follow her passion. She and her business partner opened a store called boutiques.
“We’re online right now, it’s a women’s boutique and we carry small to 3 XL,” Robles said.
Yvonne says the Hispanic Chamber can help new business owners navigate the combination of learning a new language while trying to navigate the red tape of government regulations. She is in the chamber’s program for new business owners.
“They’re classes for about 10-11 weeks, it’s the course and the year to start a business.
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“They’re teaching me how to like, right now we just started the first week, just last week, so basically they’re starting to talk about the business, how to run it, how to sustain it, your dreams, your vision,” Robles said .
Zamorano-Ochoa says there’s something special about owning your own business, and says these Americans have a lot to offer. She says the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce doesn’t want to compete with organizations like the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce, of which she is a member.
“We focus on different things, one of our main focuses is to give all education in Español, we give a lot of education, we give classes in the evenings and on weekends for small start-ups, which includes basic accounting in Español and basic business management and human resources in Español,” Zamorano-Ochoa said.
Zamorano-Ochoa is encouraged by the support she has seen outside the Hispanic community.
“We’re there to help plug-in communication and it’s been great, and I thank the entire South Dakota community for the great support they’ve given us,” Zamorano-Ochoa said.
The newly formed South Dakota Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is affiliated with the Washington, D.C.-based National Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, which has 250 member groups across the country