By Alicia Martin

Starting a business is not for the faint of heart. With decisions like: “What should the price points be?” “What is our business model?” “Who is our target market?” it can be a difficult journey to undertake.

Fortunately for members of the Brandon Hispanic community, the Hispanic Business Initiative Fund (HBIF) is here to help.

According to the HBIF Website, in 1991 the Hispanic Business Initiative Fund West Coast, Inc. was established in Tampa by community leaders and government officials, such as former City of Tampa Mayor, Pam Iorio, who identified the need for bilingual technical assistance and support for Hispanic entrepreneurs in the area. In 1995, the Hispanic Business Initiative Fund of Greater Orlando, Inc., a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, was created through the leadership of former Orange County Chairman, Linda Chapin, Orlando Mayor, Glenda Hood, Orange County Commissioner, Mary I. Johnson and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando. In 2008, both organizations merged to form the Hispanic Business Initiative Fund of Florida, Inc.

HBIF Jimmy Barker NuvivaServices offered by the HBIF include weekly orientations, workshops, one-on-one counseling and more. In addition to those services, it also offers entrepreneurial grants to assist with business costs. Brandon Nuviva Medical Weight Loss owner and nutrition coach, Jimmy Barker, was a recipient of a HBIF grant two years ago the enabled him to hire a professional to assist with formulating a business plan. “While I was an experienced business owner, I was open to having help,” said Barker. “It was nice to have someone to answer my questions.”

HBIF Leonela Cole VPAccording to Leonela Cole, Vice President of HBIF West Coast of Florida, the reasoning behind choosing the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce was simple. “Many of our clients were coming from the Brandon area. It only made sense to reach out to such a strong chamber,” Cole said.

Hispanic residents who are interested in establishing or expanding a business in the area are encouraged to contact the Hispanic Business Initiative fund by calling 980-2765 or e-mailing con It is open to working with clients in Tampa or in Brandon depending on the situation. Its hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. The Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce is located at 330 Pauls Dr. #100 in Brandon. For more information, visit or Laura Simpson Leonela Cole


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