Everyone wants to be a #boss these days, and Latinas are killing the entrepreneur game, starting businesses at six times the rate as non-Latinas. But before you quit your day job, it's important to know that being a fab founder ain't for the faint of heart—getting the money to launch and grow your business is both paramount and challenging. In fact, less than six percent of Latina-owned businesses raise funding outside of friends and family. This might be why many start-ups shut down after just two years, though most success comes around year four or five, according to author and self-made guru, Nely Galán.
So what's an enterprising gal to do? Cue our money madrinas! These 12 mujeres have made it their business to support Latinx-owned companies in the way it matters most: with cold, hard dinero. Compiled in partnership with Andrea Guendelman, CEO of BeVisible, the career network for Latinxs, check out these bad-ass women whose J-O-B and mission is to invest in the ventures—and dreams—of our fellow Latinas. Spread that coin, chicas!
1. Natalia Oberti Noguera, Founder & CEO of Pipeline AngelsNatalia Oberti Noguera
“WWASWGD,” or what would a straight white guy do, is the question Natalia Oberti Noguera wants every LGBTQIA and woman of color to ask themselves. On a mission to instil a sense of entitlement and abundance in minorities when it comes to business and money, the millennial queer Latina founded Pipeline Angels in 2011, a boot camp and network that trains high net worth women to become angel investors and create capital for women and non-binary femme social entrepreneurs. “People invest in what looks like them, what is familiar, what makes them comfortable. My take is let’s turn this on its head and let’s get more women, especially more women of color on the investing side because we are probably gonna be more open to investing in us.” Pipeline also holds a series of pitch summits around the U.S. and Puerto Rico for fledgling businesswomen looking for funding. For more information, check out PipelineAngels.com.
2. Maria Chrin, Founder & Managing Partner of Circle Wealth ManagementMaria Chrin
This self-made business boss was born and raised in Honduras and made her mark on Wall Street. After landing a scholarship to Lehigh University, Maria Chrin earned an MBA from Columbia Business School. She spent 15 years as a VP at Goldman Sachs, where she founded her own investment and wealth management firm, Circle Wealth Management, which focuses on women investors. As a member of the Board of Directors for Women Moving Millions, she has helped raise more than $600 million for organizations committed to the advancement of women and girls around the world.
3. Maria Elena Lagomasino, CEO & Managing Partner at WE Family OfficesMaria Elena Lagomasino
Known as “Mel” on Wall Street, this Latina is one of the most influential women in the business world, breaking glass ceilings at some of the world’s largest companies. The cubana serves on the board of Walt Disney, Coca-Cola, and the Americas Society and was the CEO of JP Morgan Private Bank, where Maria Elena Lagomasino oversaw over $300 million in client assets. As CEO and co-founder of WE Family offices, she advises the country’s wealthiest families. This boss lady was also formerly the CEO of GenSpring Family Offices. Latina power at its finest.
4. Monika Mantilla, President and CEO of Altura CapitalMonika Mantilla
One clear passion drives all of Monika Mantilla’s work: to build financial capacity in minority communities, and empower women with the financial tools to scale and succeed. Monika is the President and CEO of Altura Capital and a Managing Partner with Small Business Community Capital, SBCC, a $120 million plus in assets Private Equity Impact fund. Altura provides strategy, advisory data and analytics to institutional investors in the categories of emerging, diverse and Impact driven money managers. SBCC provides debt and equity capital to small and lower middle market companies (usually companies that have $3 to $5 million or more in revenue and 3 + years in operation that are seeking to grow, acquire, restructure debt or transition ownership), with an emphasis in companies located in LMI areas, businesses with societal transformation potential, and women and minority owned firms. The Colombiana has become an authority on the economic empowerment of Latinos and women, testifying before Congress and working closely with some of the largest corporations and business associations in U.S. to help scale small businesses. The busy mom of two is a proud champion of working mamis, and her devotion to her community was recognized by the Hispanic Heritage Foundation. Monika is in the board of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, USHCC where she chairs the Capital Initiative, a ground breaking program to help Hispanic and minority entrepreneurs access capital and scale. She is an ambassador to the Alumni Society, a group that unites Ivy League Latinos.
5. Carolina Huaranca, Principal of Kapor CapitalCarolina Huaranca
Latinx in tech are still frustratingly rare, and when it gets to the founder level they are pretty much non-existent: less than 1 percent of venture-backed start-ups has a Latino founder, according to CB Insights. Fortunately, Carolina Huaranca is ready to change the game. The Peruvian-American is one of Silicon Valley’s few Latina venture capitalists. As a Principal at Kapor Capital, she specializes in identifying and investing in early-stage tech companies that are closing gaps of access, opportunity, or outcome for low-income communities in the U.S. The areas she is most passionate about include education and the future of work. Carolina has also been on the other side of the table as a tech founder prior to venture. She was the CEO and co-founder of Spriggle, a marketplace that helped parents identify education products for children ages 3-9. In her not-so-spare-time, she launched 186 Girls Who Code Clubs and organizes Latinx In Tech Startup weekends. "Generational wealth will be created in tech, and I don't want my community to be left behind," Huaranca has said. The poderosa is also a proud graduate of Cornell University.
6. Ivelisse Rodriguez Simon, Partner of Avante Mezzanine PartnersIvelisse Rodriguez Simon
“I can and I will” is the mantra Ivelisse’s Puerto Rican papi used to recite to her and her two sisters, Rebeca and Gina, every night at bedtime. And it paid off. Raised with little means in a tough barrio in Chicago, but bursting with heart and hustle, Ivelisse Rodriguez Simon went on to get an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. She is now a partner at Avante Mezzanine Partners, a women-owned fund that focuses on giving money to women and minority–owned business with at least $3 million dollars in revenue. One of Ivelisse’s first investments though was in her sister, Golden Globe-winning actress Gina Rodriguez, whose college education Ivelisse paid for. “My sister Ivelisse is my role model and shero,” said Gina. “She believed in me and told me to go after my dreams and never give up.” The natural-born leader, Ivelisse, has now made supporting Latinas her life’s work, and we are all better for it.
7. Vanessa Pestritto, Partner at Lattice VenturesVanessa Pestritto
Vanessa Pestritto is a co-founder and partner at Lattice Ventures, a venture capitalist firm that invests in network effects tech businesses. She seeks founders that have a differentiated view on solving problems in large markets and provides practical advice and key industry access. The NYU Stern School of Business grad shares her knowledge and network for the next generation of entrepreneurs through her roles as EIR at Friends of eBay, Mentor for the NYU Berkley Venture Competition, and BrainTrust Advisor for Entrepreneurs@Athena. She is also the founder of the Gladiator Club, which provides network opportunities and resources for high potential founders.
8. Nathalie Molina Niño, Co-Founder and CEO of Brava InvestmentsNathalie Molina Nino
Nathalie Molina Niño wants to be the next Warren Buffet. What the gorgeous 40-year-old half colombiana, half Ecuadorian has in common with the “Oracle from Omaha” is this: she wants to create a billion-dollar investment platform, she wants to back companies for the long haul, and she is a huge advocate, especially for women and Latinas. Molina Niño has led multi-million dollar companies to profitability as well as worked to empower women, serving as CEO of Nely Galán’s Self-Made movement, and founding the Entrepreneurs@Athena program at Barnard College, with the mission of leveling the playing field for women entrepreneurs. Recognizing her badassery, Buffet’s grandson, Howard, and other money ballers have partnered with Molina Niño to create BRAVA Investments, which intends to create a billion-dollar portfolio from the ground up by financing start-ups that support and greatly benefit women. “I want to choose a company that has the biggest impact on women, whether it’s women-owned or not. If I can help women at the base of the economic pyramid have more financial freedom and abundance, then that is a long-term change that will have an effect on innovation and generations to come.” Sounds like an oracle to us.
9. Angelica Fuentes, Founder of The Gender Equality Fund, A Complete and MoreAngelica Fuentes
Only 3 percent of the public companies in the Mexican Stock Exchange are led by women. Texas-born Angélica Fuentes is on a mission to change that number by investing in efforts to empower women in Latin America. As former general director of Grupo Imperial, one of Mexico’s biggest gas companies, Fuentes earned the nickname “La reina del Gas,” becoming a kickass businesswoman in Mexico and Latin America. Having had to break barriers on her own path to success, La Reina is leading the cause for gender equality to pave the way for others. Through the Angélica Fuentes Foundation, headquartered in the U.S. and Mexico, Angélica provides programs and financial support to organizations in Latin America that help women in crucial underserved areas such as access to education and maternal health care, and equal pay initiatives, to name a few. Angelica's most recent business venture—a new skincare line called A Complete—donates 6% of its proceeds to the Foundation to support female participation in the workforce and gender equality. To date, the Foundation has reached 270,000 girls and women in more than 40 communities in five countries. If that isn't enough, the do-it-all dynamo also founded The Imperative Fund, which aims to lift communities out of poverty and support their sustainable development.
10. Lucienne Gigante and Marta Michelle Colon, Co-Founders of Access LatinaLucienne Gigante
Boricuas Marta Michelle Colon and Lucienne Gigante are on a mission to get early-stage Latina founders funded. They're strong believes in the power of women in the household and know, for a fact, that Latinas have the power to change the way women do business. "Latinas open businesses 6 to 1 as compared to other demographics," the pair says. They launched Access Latina in 2015 to pioneer entrepreneurial growth for women in the areas of STEAM, Social Innovation and Agriculture. They provide you with a community to cross-collaborate with, introductions to advisors, sponsors, and mentors, a cash prize, and insane media coverage. The program is co-hosted in New York City and San Juan, Puerto Rico. You can get more information about how to apply to their yearly Accelerator Program at accesslatina.org.
11. Noramay Cadena, Co-founder & Managing Director of Make in LA and Co-founder & Advisor at Latinas in STEMCarmen Palofax
As the daughter of Mexican immigrants, Noramay Cadena’s Los Angeles upbringing was the definition of humble: “I remember our neighbor taking her garden hose and putting it through our bathroom window so that we’d have water to brush our teeth and flush the toilet. And yet, so many of my friends were going through experiences like that. It wasn’t weird or embarrassing. It was just life,” she told Defining Cultures. As a teen mom, Noramay defied all odds and became a first-generation college student at MIT, where she solved NASA-level calculations by day and tended to her baby girl by night. Determined to provide a better life for her daughter, she earned three degrees from MIT and spent 12 years at The Boeing Company as a program lead. When the entrepreneurship bug hit, she ditched her 9-to-5 to co-found Latinas in STEM, and later, Make in LA, a female-led accelerator and investment fund that helps tech startups launch hot new hardware. With both organizations, Cadena is creating a new landscape for her daughter’s generation to have an equal playing field in the world of STEM by pushing for educational resources for Latinas and investing in entrepreneurs.