Owner of Menas Boys Gourmet, Ana

Immigrant businesses are a driving force of the Washington, D.C. economy. This is why the Carlos Rosario School is investing more in its entrepreneurial immigrant students.

Last semester the School expanded its small business program in order to provide more services, classes and opportunities to students who aspire to open their own businesses. The school hired Raul Medrano, who has 15 years of experience in business development and marketing, to coordinate this initiative.

“The Small Business Program’s vision is to develop entrepreneurial students in the industries of food, health, construction, professional services and technology,” Medrano said.

For the past two years, Medrano offered a class called The ABC’s of Small Business, a six-week workshop series where students learn about laws governing business, organizations that help business people, and business plans. Now as coordinator of the program, he is also able to provide one-on-one assistance and financial literacy workshops.

Several students who have taken part of the program have already started their businesses. For example, Ana started Mena’s Boys Gourmet, a company that sells pickled onions. Noe received five one-on-one assistance sessions and was able to register his home improvement business. Josue is starting a catering business and building his client base.

“We had a chance to hear testimonies from people who have gone through the process and have succeeded; people who started from zero just like us,” said Josue.

Starting in March, the school will reach even more people by offering the class in English. Medrano also added two additional workshops to the series, responding to student interest in more topics.

In addition, the program seeks to foster financial capability in the student body. Some topics discussed in regular classes and in special workshops are: the importance of credit, saving habits, banking, and others.

“The idea is to create an ecosystem that fosters entrepreneurship, where students can have access to the tools necessary to become innovators and job creators, helping the local economy,” Medrano said.