Program at Ferris State helps Hispanic entrepreneurs

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Hispanic entrepreneurs in West Michigan are learning the ins and outs of running a business, thanks to Ferris State University’s Ferris Emprende program.

“Emprende program is an entrepreneurship program,” said Carlos Sanchez, the director of Ferris State’s Latino Business and Economic Development Center. “We teach people how to start their business in their own language — in Spanish.”

The program is offered twice a year and usually has around 15 participants. The program is in its fourth year. It was born out of a program offered in English called SpringGR.

Sanchez took an active role in recruiting people for Emprende.

“I basically went out and talked to business owners and asked them, ‘Do you know anyone who may want to start a business,’” Sanchez said.

The course goes over the essentials of running a business like seeking permits, following guidelines and managing money.

“We keep connecting them with other resources in the community,” Sanchez said. “The Hispanic Chamber, the Grand Rapids Chamber, you name it — anybody in the ecosystem who can help them.”

The program helped Paola Andrea Carlson get her business started. The native of Colombia is the owner of Pochis Sweet Designs, an online shop that sells a variety of confections like chocolate covered strawberries.

“I love making this because it’s my creativity in these products,” Carlson said.

The program has helped her expand her network. She has clients all over West Michigan.

“Rockford, Grandville, Wyoming, Sparta, all over for deliveries,” Carlson said.

While many participants in the program aspire to run businesses in the food industry, one of the program’s goals is to get more entrepreneurs who aspire of working in areas such as engineering and design.

To learn more about Ferris’ Latino Business and Economic Development Center, you can visit its website.