PORT ARTHUR, Texas — Two Southeast Texas sisters are planning on making a difference in their community by providing guidance and advice to Hispanic business owners.
The Port Arthur Hispanic Business Council is now under new leadership. Raquel Ochoa and Erika Banda Meza hope to maximize the council’s impact in 2022 by reaching more people in the community.
The Port Arthur Hispanic Business Council was started in 2017 as a response to a need that was clear in the community. The council is a place where Hispanic business owners can interact, network, and learn about the different legal aspects of running a small business.
“We saw the need because we had people coming into the chamber that were Hispanic and did not know what the chamber was, how the chamber could help them,” Meza, council chair, said.
Meza and Ochoa have been with the council since its start and now, they will serve as chair and chair-elect for it. The sisters want it to have a lasting effect in the Port Arthur community.
“We want to make a difference, whether it's in volunteering or whether it's bringing people and giving them the right tools in the right language,” Meza said. “Just anything that comes out to motivate them or inspire them. That’s what we’re here for.”
The sisters have a Spanish saying that translates to, “do and be the difference in your assigned territory.” They said Southeast Texas is where they are assigned, and they plan to make a difference.
“We knew that the Hispanic community needed a Hispanic Business Council where we could interact you know, network and learn about different topics,” Ochoa said “Opening a new business information such as opening a new business, insurance, all those things.”
Meza and Ochoa believe that meeting business owners half-way helps them better understand their options regarding legal information, like opening a business or navigating insurance issues.
The sisters plan to help Hispanic business owners with whatever legal and business advice, documentation and possible language barriers.
“We really want to work on people that are starting a business and just have like an idea,” Meza said.
The drive to help Hispanic business owners is personal for the sisters.
When the sister's parents move to the United States, they had master’s degrees. Even with those degrees, they never worked within their fields because they did not know it was an option.
“If they would have had something like this, you know, a council where they can provide some information, could have told them you know, ‘Yeah, you can revalidate your studies here in the US,’ and stuff, things like that, they could have probably worked, you know, in what they work for in their field,” Ochoa said. “And so, we always believe that if there's a council like this that can provide some information, some guidance in any aspect and business, there's going to be better opportunity for the community.”
The Port Arthur Hispanic Business Council will have its first meeting of the 2022 year on Jan. 13.