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Community Wealth Building Pilots 2023: A Small Business Incubator for Latinx Creatives

Community Wealth Building Pilots 2023: A Small Business Incubator for Latinx Creatives


Community Wealth Building Pilots 2023: A Small Business Incubator for Latinx Creatives

Jose Manuel Vasquez
The city of Seattle Generational Wealth Initiative was developed to find community-centered solutions to our city’s long-standing racial wealth gap. The initiative is currently funding nine community-designed pilot projects that aim to increase knowledge about community wealth creation and advance our initiative strategies. The story below is an example of this work.
This article was written by Laura Nash and People’s Economy Lab and originally published on It is republished here with permission from the People’s Economy Lab.

Jos Manuel Vasquez grew up in South Park, the son of entrepreneurs. His parents owned a video library and a sandwich shop that served as a community center for the neighborhood. As a child, Jos experienced firsthand how owning a small business can create wealth for family and community. He saw how his parents held a bulletin board with rooms to let and job postings and were often a first stop for immigrants trying to settle in Seattle. He is now piloting a small business incubator program through his new venture Growing Contigo, in partnership with Community villato help Latinx creative industry entrepreneurs establish themselves as entrepreneurs and build generational and community wealth.

This small business incubator is part of the Generational Wealth Initiative funded by the City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods (DON). In 2023, DON is supporting BIPOC entrepreneurs and community organizations to pilot community wealth building strategies as part of a long-term effort to close the racial wealth gap in Seattle. Community wealth building strategies include:

  • Widespread worker ownership
  • Community controlled capital
  • Community ownership of real estate
  • Progressive supply
  • Fair Trade Small Business Ecosystems
  • Wealth retention and asset protection programs

The Growing Contigo and Villa Comunitarias Small Business Incubator represents the Fair Trade Small Business Ecosystem Strategy and is the first pilot project approved by DON. This strategy creates successful local networks of allied organizations that create the conditions and help entrepreneurs to thrive, launch, grow and sustain their businesses. As part of this strategy, these networks will actively identify and address structural barriers that limit access and opportunity, particularly for business owners of color, women entrepreneurs, low-income people, and businesses located in under-invested neighborhoods.

For eight months, Jos and Villa Comunitaria staff member Nadia Melo will work with twelve entrepreneurs, leading a curriculum in Spanish with monthly virtual and in-person meetings covering topics such as developing business plans. , marketing and branding, financial planning and forecasting, e-commerce and digital presence, business growth and expansion. The cohort will hear from guest speakers, including accountants, lawyers, City staff, and more, and will benefit from one-on-one mentoring. Cohort participants will also have the opportunity to network and build relationships with each other, fostering a support system that will continue beyond the eight months of the incubator. Jos hopes the incubator will teach the business skills these entrepreneurs need and connect them with the right resources so they can turn their creative pursuits into full-time jobs.

Undocumented for most of his life, Jos sees entrepreneurship as an alternative path to financial stability. Although undocumented immigrants lack access to Social Security, retirement savings plans and other benefits, they can build wealth through small business ownership. Jos himself paid for his college education by running an internet cafe in his parents’ store, as he was not eligible for financial aid. He believes that others can create stability and prosperity for themselves in the same way.

As consultants to the DON’s Generational Wealth Creation Research Project, we at the Peoples Economy Lab are excited to see this pilot project moving forward! Jos hopes his small business incubator will continue into the future with many more cohorts of entrepreneurs, and was delighted to support him and Villa Comunitaria in this endeavour.




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