“For a small chamber, the Latino Chamber is doing some really exciting things,” says Jessica Cavazos, president and CEO of the Latino Chamber of Commerce. “This is a great chance to let community know what we are all about.”
The annual Latino Business Excellence Awards on Friday, May 28, 6 p.m., will be a virtual event highlighting businesses, organizations, and business professionals who are making great impacts and have overcome the various challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The presenting sponsor for the event is PROMPERU, an agency of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism responsible for the promotion of Peru’s exports and tourism.
“We are looking at a two-year partnership with them to explore ways to enhance trade,” Cavazos tells Madison365. “They actually reached out to us because they are looking at Madison with all of the fast-growing tech companies that are here and they want to create an avenue through the Chamber to have more conversations on trade — what products they have, what Peru needs, how Wisconsin can help with that, etc.
“We can officially say that Peru is a first-trade partner for the Chamber. These are new areas we are exploring as we go statewide,” she adds.
Through this virtual gala, the Latino Chamber and its over 500 member stakeholders will celebrate the diversity, heritage, and entrepreneurial spirit of the Latino community. Every year, the Latino Chamber highlights a different country in the Latin American diaspora.
“Because of the bicentennial celebration of Peru as a country, because of the elections they are having right now, and because of the growing number of Peruvians in the Madison and in the state, we felt like this was a great choice,” Cavazos says.
PROMPERU and the Latino Chamber will collaborate to showcase Peru’s economic innovation and trade. Participants will hear from special guests like Ramiro Cavazos, president of the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and representatives from Prom Peru like Daniel Córdova Espinoza, director of business investment promotion, and Luis Chang, a Houston-based, senior economic development, competitiveness and international trade expert.
One of the highlights of the Latino Business Excellence Awards will be honoring Peruvian native Gladis Benavides with the Legacy Award recognizing her for her lifetime achievements. Benavides is a Madison business leader and community activist with a passion for civil rights and social justice. She was born in Brazil and grew up in Peru and studied at the Universidad Católica in Lima, Peru, and at Sorbonne University in Paris, France.
Benavides has had a long and distinguished career in Madison and Milwaukee with almost four decades of experience working in cross-cultural issues in both the public and private sector. Her company Benavides Enterprises Inc. also received an award in 2012 from the Latino Chamber.
“Her legacy as a champion of the Latino community is so important and we want to make sure our young people know about all of the great things she has done. I’m excited to honor her,” Cavazos says. “She’s someone who represents our community so well. Gladis is somebody that really helped me and she set the ground for public service for me. She was always a great advocate for Latinos.”
Previous winners of this prestigious Latino Chamber Legacy Award include Dora Zuniga and Juan Jose Lopez.
The LCC will also be honoring Latino entrepreneurs for making a difference and boosting their economic presence.
The Youth Entrepreneur of the Year will go to Nabil Hamdan, founder of the World of Bamboo.
“He is the youngest paid member in the Latino Chamber of Commerce in Dane County. We helped him register his company and he has just been amazing with his business,” Cavazos says. “We are so proud of him. The nominating committee made sure that the award was in his honor because the reality is that we’ve never had a Youth Entrepreneur of the Year award …. So he’ll be our first honoree. That’s very exciting.”
The following 2021 Latino Business Excellence Awards will be presented at the event:
- Community Impact Award: Latino Health Council
- Corporate Impact Award: CUNA MUTUAL GROUP
- Community Partner Award: Light House Church
- Empendedor Award: Hector Garcia of Garcia’s Garage
- Emperadora Award: Alejandra Bustamante of State Farm
- Tu Empresa (New Start-up): Ana Murillo of L’Deep Cleaning
- Business of the Year Award: Jose Sanchez of Sanchez Painting
Change Agent Awards will be presented to Vanessa Ineza of Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, Tiffany Kenney, executive director of Downtown Madison’s Central Business Improvement District (BID) and Juan Carlos with the Department of Revenue.
“We are highlighting Latino businesses and we are so happy that they were able to make it out of the pandemic with a whole new perspective on survival,” Cavazos says. “These are business owners that continuously give back to their communities. We decided to focus on those who created opportunity even through the pandemic. They are the people who have made concentrated efforts to make an impact on our community as business owners.
“Whether it’s a mechanic who volunteered his shop to help people who were trying to get to work and didn’t have the funds to fix their vehicles and helped them as a good gesture … or whether it be a cleaning company that just reinvented her services and kept growing,” she adds. “All of our honorees have something that they are doing to build capacity in our community and help be exemplary of how other businesses should run and always thinking about how to give back.”
Sponsors of Latino Business Excellence Awards include PROM PERU, UW Health, and Summit Credit Union.
“We are disappointed that we will not be able to see each other in person at this gala event this year but we are happy that people will be able to join us from all around the world for this virtual, global event,” Cavazos says.
“This is a very important event for us and I think it is important to honor our resilience and to honor people who not only went far beyond the call of duty in their professional life but also in their personal life,” she adds.
The Wisconsin Latino Chamber of Commerce’s 2021 Annual Business Awards will take place virtually on Friday, May 28, 6 p.m. For tickets, click here.