Nuestra Comunidad: Latinas share stories of success, inspiration

They arrived afraid, without knowing English and, in many cases, with no money. Some of them had to quit their jobs and put their lifelong dreams on hold. But none of them were intimidated. Instead, they chose to persevere and discover the next chapter in their personal stories.

That is the reality that many immigrant women face upon coming to this country. It is the same story for the participants of Avanzando Juntas, a community initiative offered by the Latin American Association with the goal of providing entrepreneurial training to Latinas. Classes have been in session for several weeks, but the program recently held an event titled Inspirational Series: Among Friends.

The event served as a means for participants to share their success stories. Among them was Biviana Franco, founder of Feel Beautiful Today, a nonprofit organization that offers art therapy to cancer patients.

Franco served as the keynote speaker.

“When I came here 22 years ago, I knew three words in English. And I would often ask myself, ‘Will I be able to do this?’ I had a lot of fears. But my desire to move forward was stronger. My passion and desire to help others surpassed my fears,” said Franco.

Liss Honma, a native of El Salvador, had a similar experience.

Upon moving to Georgia four years ago, Honma had to resign from her career in the field of systems engineering, in order to take care of her daughter. Everything changed, and Honma decided to then help her sister in the process of creating natural hand-dyed accessories and similar items.

“It all started out as a hobby, I didn’t think natural products would sell. Then little by little, I worked on a business plan and everything changed,” said Honma, who is now the owner of online Etsy shop BySanz.

Things panned out differently for Melanie Cáceres, a woman who already owned a company with her husband in Georgia but found herself reevaluating her business strategy. In the process, Cáceres decided to launch a marketing program that offers training in networking.

“When I started looking at my own business, we began growing. We realized that, just by using the resources we already had, we could grow,” explained Cáceres, director of Horizon Painting & Renovations.

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