30 Million Latinas Need Representation In Biden's Cabinet | Opinion

As a busy single mom and a small business owner, when Mayor Garcetti's administration asked me to co-chair Los Angeles' Racial Equity and Newly Empowered Workplaces (RENEW) Task Force, a broad coalition committed to rooting out structural racism in businesses in Los Angeles, my answer was not an easy yes. But in a city that's nearly 48 percent Latinx, knowing that I would ensure Latina business owners were represented at the table was important. In California, Latina-owned businesses skyrocketed 111 percent in the 10 years following the Great Recession, including my own, and the numbers nationally are just as impressive. But the numbers are also tragic, when measured by the wage gap and most recently, the prognosis for the increased racial wealth gap that the current economic crisis is likely to trigger (if the great recession is any indication).

For this and so many other reasons, Latinas nationwide mobilized and in some states, most notably Nevada, Arizona and Pennsylvania, we were crucial in delivering the White House to President-elect Biden. Since the celebrations on the streets (or in teleconference parties, quarantined safely in our homes) I can attest that many of my fellow Latinas and I have watched closely as the Biden cabinet nominees have rolled out. Announcement after often-historic announcement, we have celebrated the nominees and waited patiently to see ourselves represented in the cabinet of the president-elect we worked so hard for. And now, as inauguration approaches and over 80 percent of the cabinet nominees have been announced, the Biden-Harris administration has a unique opportunity in selecting the leader of the Small Business Administration. It's time, not just to ensure Latinas have a seat at the table, but to level up how our nation serves small business owners, who have historically delivered 70 percent of new jobs in this nation, during a crisis that has hit us hardest.

In other words, it is not enough to ensure that 30 million Latinas are represented in the cabinet. It's time to make history by foregoing the usual government pedigrees and banking resumes, and deliver to the millions of American business owners struggling to survive, an administrator who is an entrepreneur herself.

Someone like real estate mogul and media legend, Nely Galan, who made history at the helm of Telemundo and later, famously stood up to then-newbie reality TV star, Donald Trump, on Celebrity Apprentice.

Or there's Venezuelan-born Luz Urrutia, the CEO of the nation's largest CDFI, Accion Opportunity Fund, which largely supports businesses owned by people of color, women and immigrants and recently received funding from MacKenzie Scott.

Or tech-entrepreneur, award-winning author and investor, Nathalie Molina Niño, working on the historic effort to bring the birth control pill over-the-counter and partnered with Obama's United State of Women initiative, in delivering her entrepreneurship curriculum around the nation.

And then there's Ecuadorian immigrant and CEO of what Inc Magazine called the fastest-growing woman-owned company in the country, Nina Vaca. Vaca is known, among other reasons, for having reached a billion dollars in revenues without taking venture capital.

This list is just the beginning, a much larger collection of impressive, abundantly-qualified Latina nominees could be built on the momentum of this first group. But the point is simply this, in a country spiraling, our only hope is the health of the small businesses that power our tax base and reliably deliver desperately needed jobs. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it's that the health of our small businesses is in direct relation to the health of Americans. It's time we trust an entrepreneur to lead the small businesses of this nation out of the darkness of these last four years. And make no mistake, there's a rich bench of Latinas to draw from, who are ready to lead.

Ana Flores is the founder and CEO of #WeAllGrow Latina Network, and the co-chair of Los Angeles' Racial Equity and Newly Empowered Workplaces (RENEW) Task Force.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own.