As a journalist who has written about Latinos and finance issues for about seven years, I have closely followed new insights and statistics on the economic power of the Latino community.
Numbers matter greatly when it comes to articulating our contributions to the American economy. Whether we’re explaining that Latinos have generated 34 percent of new businesses in the last decade or that Latino-led companies receive only 2 percent of venture capital (VC) funding, we can point to these numbers as milestones, as markers of progress as well as evidence of the gaps we must close for the Latino community to finally realize its full economic potential.
So when I learned about LAT VC, a purpose-driven fund focused on investing in Latino-owned, early-stage start-ups, I knew I needed to meet the team. I got that opportunity a week ago when I attended L’ATTITUDE, the team’s tentpole event and one of the largest gatherings for Latinos in business.
What Is L’ATTITUDE?
This was my second year attending and moderating panels at L’ATTITUDE, and I have to say, the organizers surpassed themselves. More than six thousand leaders in venture capital, biotech, entertainment, and every other industry congregated in San Diego to discuss the Latino community’s role in the American economy—or, as the event organizers call it, the new mainstream economy.
Of course, the event was also an excellent opportunity for networking. “L’ATTITUDE is a platform where people make the most high-value connections and deals,” explained Laura Moreno Lucas, partner at LAT VC.
From the floor, that’s exactly what distinguishes this conference from any other: the fact that it holds space for people with good ideas. It doesn’t matter whether those people are in entertainment—like Mexican comedian Eugenio Derbez, who also runs 3Pas Studios—or finance, like Raul Anaya, a president at Bank of America. This year, we even had the opportunity to hear from the forty-fourth president of the United States, Barack Obama, who spoke about economic opportunities for Black and Latino communities.
My Top Five Moments and Experiences
1. An Update on the New Mainstream Economy
The Latino community’s economic impact has been increasing for years, but this year’s stats won’t be forgotten anytime soon.
At the event, the Latino Donor Collaborative (LDC) revealed its 2022 US Latino GDP Report: for the past few years, that report has noted that the US Latino GDP is the eighth-largest in the world, holding its own against entire nations as well as global superpowers.
This year, however, the LDC announced that the Latino GDP has become the fifth-largest in the world, with an economy worth approximately $2.8 trillion.
2. A Call to Action for Latino Voters
Another of my favorite moments was a session on the Latino Victory Fund, an organization committed to building Latino political power. Board Member Luis A. Miranda Jr. noted that although there are more than sixty-two million Latinos living in the United States, the diverse cohort only represents 1 percent of elected officials across the country.
“[We need to] make sure that this sad statistic of 1 percent changes,” he remarked, adding that it is critical that Latinos not only vote but support candidates financially—and run for office themselves.
3. A Reprimand to Hollywood
In an incisive conversation about Latinos in the media industry, Fidel Martinez (a writer at the LA Times) joined Ana Valdez (president of the LDC) to discuss the 2022 LDC Latinos in Media Report.
That report revealed that in 2022, Latinos were poorly represented both in front of and behind the camera, despite the community’s generous consumption of television and film content. But the LDC took it a step further—in addition to highlighting those numbers, the organization called out specific networks, platforms, and studios that need to improve their inclusion of Latino talent. “We are loyal and remember who cares for us. We come back [to them],” Valdez remarked.
The LDC made it easy for those networks, platforms, and studios by revealing the Source: The Latino Talent Database for Hollywood, which includes the names of more than three thousand talented Latinos in Hollywood.
4. A Conversation with President Barack Obama
L’ATTITUDE’s headline event, this conversation focused on tools for change—specific strategies that Latinos and other underrepresented communities can use to activate their economic power. What stood out to me was how precise the former president was with his messaging and his sense of urgency. The biggest takeaways?
- Latino executives have significant experience in counseling large companies. This means that they are more than capable of founding highly successful companies too.
- The US still has a lot of work to do to undo the effects of exclusionary housing practices (otherwise known as redlining), which continues to impact Black and Latino communities.
- The media industry targets Black and Latino communities with disinformation. We will need large-sale solutions for this issue.
5. The Entrepreneurial Energy
L’ATTITUDE was attended by prominent executives, representatives of top corporations, and various allies of the Latino community, but my favorite group of attendees was the entrepreneurs. Their energy was palpable and their optimism contagious. When I attended a VCFamilia event (whose founder I recently wrote about for Hispanic Executive), I met Latino founders from across the US who are building the next generation of food, skill-sharing, and edtech companies. Pitches ready, these founders were prepared to connect with investors.
A stand-out experience for me was my chat with Fanny Grande, the cofounder of an LA movie studio called Avenida Productions. She and her partner, Nelson Grande, pitched the company last year, and it is now part of LAT VC’s portfolio of companies.
“Attending these kinds of conferences, meeting businesspeople, and meeting other founders in the media space is a great way to move your career forward,” she told me. “Especially if you want to take matters into your own hands and not wait for someone to give you a job.”