Over the summer, SACIV hosted multiple groups of visitors including, fourteen women from Argentina, Chile, Cuba, El Salvador, Mexico, Panamá, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela, interested in learning about entrepreneurship at the local level and efforts to engage youth to teach then entrepreneurial skills. The delegation spent two full day exploring these themes as they met with local organizations, followed by SACIV’s “Summer Membership Mixer” and an additional day free for cultural activities before departing back to their respective home countries.
A meeting with staff and students of the Business Careers High School revealed the growing enthusiasm for entrepreneurial careers amongst students in San Antonio. The delegation not only learned about the special classes offered, including lessons on business etiquette, entrepreneurial skills, technology, and finance, they enjoyed the opportunity to meet with the students themselves to learn about their goals. This invaluable exchange allowed our visitors to share personal experiences and guidance on successful business practices. Aside from investing time in the youth involvement, the visitors were particularly interested in learning how current entrepreneurs in San Antonio strive in the local community and thus impact the local economy. Meeting the with the leadership of the San Antonio Small Business Development Center revealed ways in which entrepreneurs obtain access to capital, one-on-one business advising sessions, and workshops.
Meeting with Ms. Yadira Medina-Torres, founder and director of Stepping Stones Pediatric Clinic was particularly memorable to the group of visitors. As owner of a successful rehabilitation facility for children with speech and learning disabilities, Yadira shared here personal and professional experience, providing both an informative and inspiring meeting with the delegation. She shared her initial struggle in finding appropriate care for her own special-needs child propelled her entrepreneurship career. She further shared her struggle in being a female entrepreneur and explained how local support mechanisms, such as the San Antonio Small Business Development Center, helped her achieve her goals and sustain a successful business.
The blend of personal and professional inspiration continued into the next day as the visitors participated in a Roundtable Discussion led by Ms. Rebecca Hughes with the San Antonio Women’s Chamber of Commerce, Ms. Saani Fong of the Free Trade Alliance, and Ms. Patricia Stout, founder of the Alamo Travel Group. Each of the women provided an overview of their work before breaking into small groups with the visitors for more personalized mentorship discussions regarding different topics. Ms. Hughes emphasized the promotion of leadership and economic development of women business leaders, Ms. Fong focused on supporting international trade and her “Women in International” program, while Ms. Stout provided networking and mentorship for the women.
To conclude the series of meetings attended throughout their stay in the United States, Jim Eskin led the delegation in an interactive workshop that reflected on their three week program, encouraging the visitors to synthesize their thoughts and experiences. As a local facilitator with expertise in organizational development and leadership, Jim further encouraged the women to draw on the connections established throughout their trip that they’d like collaborate with in the future.
Finally, SACIV welcomed the delegation of Latin American women to our annual “Summer Membership Mixer” in order to honor our professional resources. Throughout the warm summer evening, SACIV board members, sponsors, community members, and international guests mingled over drinks and Mexican food at the infamous La Fonda on Main. Our guests got a taste of traditional Tex-Mex food while mingling with locals who share a passion for international exchange.