Buenas tardes everyone - Good afternoon.
Imagine this -- a young child in Mexico is able to switch
on his hand held video game and after a couple of seconds
gets a message back from a kid in the U.S. who asks, "Can I
join in?" And with a click of the "yes" button, they can
start playing together as if they are in the same room.
No language barriers. No borders. Two kids from across
the world united like brothers by the universal language of
technology. All they need is that all access pass to
globalization -- which is just another word for a world
In another window -- into Peru, a circle of Incas women
artisans may never have stepped foot outside their pueblos
but they are selling their wares world wide on the Internet
and bettering their lives. It's a win/win. The world also
learns about an amazing ancient culture.
In an even larger window -- take a look at the hip U.S. owned
Nickelodeon now penetrating Latin America's lucrative
entertainment market in Brazil.
Or better yet -- the Atlanta based BellSouth pumping $1.5-
billion into Venezuela's Telcel, the regions largest cell
phone company. Or how Spain's flagship internet venture
Terra.com who recently acquired the 4th largest U.S. portal
Lycos.com for $12.5-billion.
It is so clear that Hispanics in every corner of the globe,
whether from a village, a big city, a mom and pop shop or
a huge conglomerate, we are no doubt at the forefront of
this amazing high tech economic revolution.
The world over we are the hot market, whether in the U.S.
or in Latin America, one thing's clear ... being brown now is
thee toast of the town. Brown is thee new color of money.
I'm delighted to stand before you today as one small example
of the amazing opportunities available today ... especially
to Hispanics. We compete like never before, on a more level
playing field ... with a field of dreams more expansive and
inclusive and promising than ever before because of this
wondrous web called the Internet.
If I am lucky, you know me from my nearly 15 years as a
television journalist where my forte was always telling the
big story from the human experience.
I always found that the best way to convey a big idea was
to distill it down to the very core components that
comprise the whole picture. The spokes that make up the
wheel. The human beings who log-on ... connect with others
and weave a web.
When you describe this high tech embrace this way, it's so
ironic that there are any in our community who would fear the
Internet and all it promises.
Our very culture is centered around connecting with
others ... building relationships ... doing all we can to
build better our lives and those of our children.
There is no other community that can humanize the World Wide
Web or embrace all its offerings like we can. For us,
its simply about remembering that this big word called
globalization all begins with a finger on a key ... a face
and a screen ... in a village, in your home, at your office.
From wherever you are, no matter the color of your skin
or what neighborhood you come from, you have the world at
I explained it to my niece this way when she asked how the
I said, Mija -- when you are in your backyard holding your
globo, your bright big balloon on a string, you know you
hold the whole world in your hands right from where you
The string, chula, is no different than the wires and pipes
that interconnect us all to the real world ... a World Wide Web
This is thee very image fueling Hispanics to log on faster
And it's our numbers that are so impressive. In the U.S. 37%
of Hispanic households are on line. By 2003 there will be
31-million Internet users in Latin America, growing at
almost 45% a year. E-commerce with Latin America will
increase from $167-million in 1998 to over $8-billion by 2003.
This is driving big business to our doorstep begging for our
business. What does globalization then mean for us? It
means we hold the whole world in our hands. Finally, we've
got 'em by the short and curly's. Now it's all about carpe
diem ... seizing the day.
That is what my company SoyMujer.com (I am woman) is all
about. It's a p-to-p. Heard that one yet?
It's a "path-to-profit." A path to the promise of a better
At Soymujer.com, we call it the great solution. The
path-to-profit. The direct line to empowerment. All made
possible by going global. My company targets the maverick
Latina businesswoman in America. Why?
Because we Pica! It is the Latina who is the powerhouse in
our community who holds the purse strings ... she is the very
force who is brand loyal, who makes most of the economic
decisions in our families. She is the force that drives our
$400-billion dollar a year purchasing power and spends more
than $200 dollars a month just on telecommunications
services. You think that is something?
It is projected that the Hispanic purchasing power will grow
to $650-billion by 2003 and by 2025 will reach $1-trillion.
It's the Latina who I am focusing on because of her amazing
entrepreneurial energy, self reliance and tenacity to,
despite all odds against her, take action to secure her
With limited access to credit and investment capital to
build a business, she is beating the odds and starting
businesses 4 times faster than any other demographic.
The statistics tell it all.
Between 1987 and 1996 alone, the number of Latina owned
businesses grew by 206% compared with 47% for all
businesses, according to the National Foundation for Women's
Now that may only comprise a small 5% of all women owned
businesses, but no group came close in growth rates,
particularly in traditionally male dominated fields.
The number of Latina firms rose 428% in construction,
389% in agriculture and 338% in wholesale trade. Overall
sales by Latina owned enterprises grew by 534% and
employment by 487%.
And they call us a macho culture?
This is just the beginning. We're breaking our own
paradigm. Working no longer comes with the same stigma it
once did for Hispanic women. And while we still battle
big problems with a rate of teen pregnancy and 3 times the
high school drop out rate as whites, we are showing amazing
Between 1973 and 1996, our drop out rate has declined from
55% to 33% and the number of Latinas holding bachelors
degrees has gone up from 4% to 10%.
I am proud to be a part of such an amazing sisterhood
working hard to secure better lives for our children and
I believe so much in her and our collective potential to
transform and empower our community, that my company,
SoyMujer, is specifically designed to erase the barriers that
have held her back for so long.
We've identified the barriers.
The digital and credit divide that keep her from
competing. The lack of access to education, training,
technological assistance and corporate alliances that would
help her to build a business beyond sole proprietorship.
The lack of access to investment capital that would enable
her to expand and go global.
SoyMujer erases these barriers by giving her direct access
to capital through a network of powerful corporate
partnerships and then giving her alliances with private and
government investment capital tailor-made to accommodate her
unique equity challenges.
We are building an impressive fund financed by some of the
nation's leading Latina leaders across the nation with the
express purpose of re-investing in our Latina start-ups and
doing so with our own Tiffany designed criteria for
collateral that is more pertinent to our experience.
Access to business acumen, computer and software training,
credit building techniques and marketing strategies are some of
the regular series of seminars that SoyMujer will soon offer,
and is an extension to our on-line services delivered right
into the target community ensuring that content leads to
Not only do we offer corporate America access to the
quintessential opportunity to reach the most prominent
Latinas and provide a unique link to the best and the
brightest in our community, but SoyMujer also offers our
members access to virtually unlimited goods and services at
preferred rates. Everything from shipping costs, to
preferred telephone rates, to business supplies and anything
else that our Latina businesswomen use in their business
It's not just making sure Hispanics have access to computers,
SoyMujer is committed to building a Hispanic intellectual
labor force. Right now, only 4% of Hispanics in the U.S.
hold jobs in Internet technologies. It's not only imperative
for our future, the economic future of this country depends
on it. Already 60% of all jobs today require technical skills.
I am not just plugging my company -- although I do hope you
will all log-on when I launch late in the 4th quarter.
You see, I really believe by targeting the barriers that
keep us from competing, and eliminating them -- then we have
every shot to go Global and transform not only our
lives, but enrich the world we live in with our maverick
That's the beauty of globalization -- but you've got to first
go local to go global. I believe we have to build from the
inside out. Unless we have a firm foundation, we cannot be
poised or positioned to take full advantage of this new
economy which is our destiny, the destiny of all global
The Small Business Administration under the maverick
leadership of Aida Alvarez, has tripled the number of
loans to Hispanic businesses and has really helped more in
our community than ever before.
But still, there are way too many who when reading the
fine print are not eligible for SBA loans because they
traditionally lack the equity and credit history required to
We could certainly learn a great deal from OPIC.
Under the impressive helm of George Munoz, OPIC has
supported small, medium and large American businesses
extending into some 140 developing nations and emerging
markets around the world.
Investments of more than $121-billion which have in turn
generated $58-billion in U.S. exports. This has
helped to create 238,000 American jobs. OPIC knows that
stabilizing foreign countries by investing in their economies
only empowers our own by creating better trading partners.
That is also the solution at home ... SoyMujer's solution.
Imagine, with more than 30-million Hispanics in this country,
a community poised to become the largest ethnic minority in
the nation. Whose young demographics are logging-on in
record numbers. What is possible? It's as unlimited as the
potential of the Internet itself.
I am especially excited because of our connection to Mexico.
Sixty-five percent of Hispanics in this country are of Mexican
descent. Under the upcoming leadership of Vicente Fox, who
embraces the wonder of the Internet and champions stronger ties
and trade alliances with the U.S., borders are breaking down.
The possibilities with our closest neighbor are thrilling.
In the same way, SoyMujer is building strategic partnerships
with big business to create more opportunities for our
communities. I'd like to see corporate America, private and
government sectors also partner with us like never before.
We can all learn from government agencies like HACR, who
are doing just that to assure these high powered alliances.
It's not charity ... it's in our best interest. Economic
growth in this country cannot be sustained any longer
without us. We are a gold mine waiting to be mined.
This is why there is such a stampede racing to figure out
how exactly to access us, and have an opportunity to do
business with our market.
On-line the possibilities are staggering.
Forrester Research Inc. of Cambridge Massachusetts
reports that 43% of us are now on-line, whether at home,
school or work. And according to Forrester, this is just the
The numbers are said to be even more impressive in Latin
America, where one study reports that the number of
Internet users will reach 22-million in 2001 ... growing faster
than anywhere else in the world.
But as you well know, trying to seize the day, not to
mention, beat out U.S. giants from capitalizing on what
should be our turf, is not as easy as just clicking
"control, alt, delete."
One thing we've learned is that content alone is not king.
Dot coms that one day gave birth to billion dollar babies
are throwing the baby out with the bath water.
B-to-C's turned B-to-B's. It's as complicated as
Shakespeare. But the question is not, "To be or not to be."
IT'S HOW TO BE ... how to succeed. How to empower and turn
a profit all at the same time is the mystery.
As yet, not even the big wig Latino-run Web sites have
locked up the Hispanic market. In fact, not one yet has any
profit to show for their efforts.
Even the most successful, Star Media, has lost at least
$72.4-million on revenues of $7.3-million since its launch.
QuePasa.com has lost at least $10.6 million on no revenue
since its inception, leaving people to ask "que paso?"
What's the lesson?
We're still learning it. Ese es el chiste.
Here's what's clear, The "H" in Hispanic does not stand
for homogenized. We are a complex and diverse community
with unique cultural needs.
And because we are going where no one has gone
before, we will have to listen very carefully to the voice
of the customer ... as Kodak so poignantly reminds us to do
if we are to "capture our moment."
But it's not so easy -- who we are is a mixed bag. The
statistics alone offer a tough road map.
On the one hand, studies say we are logging-on like mad,
while other studies warn of a dangerous digital divide
that others still insist is just a digital lag.
Leading Latino researcher Dr. David Hayes Bautista from UCLA
says the divide is a lot of hype ... that things are looking up
because we are fast catching up.
This, while a report released by the U.S. Department of
Commerce states that low income Hispanics have only a one
in ten chance of being connected to the Internet and are
falling dangerously behind.
Trying to make sense of our marketplace with all these
conflicting mirrors is confusing. But as a journalist over
the years, one powerful lesson I learned is that the truth
has many faces. And that each face is as real and telling as
the other. Each as important to understanding the full story.
All these differing statistics reflect a truth about who we
are today. We are a growing middle class logging on in
droves. We are also a burgeoning lower class desperate to
not fall through the Net. Both are true mirrors. Both are
Our challenge is to include us all in this big new global
gateway to the future. Hispanic households still are only
half as likely to own a computer as white households, and two
and half times less likely to log-on.
Ultimately the place we carve out for ourselves will only
be as strong as our weakest link.
But I must say ... I'm more hopeful than most.
I am, yes, troubled by today's divide ... but all indications
show that nothing will stop this revolution from its
inclusive huge embrace. There is no turning back. There
is no locking the gates. It's just a matter of time and
we're moving at warp speed.
I'm inspired alone by the incredible success stories despite
low computer penetration, that shine like beacons
for all and give us a glimpse into the future of what
could be possible if more of us were wired in.
For example -- let 33 year old Miguel Rosa give you hope.
Living in San Francisco, he created LatinoGear.com that he
built from his basement and is now taking off. He says he
grew up wearing Nikes and wanted to design something that
spoke to him and motivated Latino's to embrace their own
unique style. He sells his fashions on-line and
contributes 2% of all his Internet sales to the Hispanic
Community Foundation for educational scholarships.
It's the best of globalization -- access to compete on a level
playing field. And opportunity to reinvest and empower
your own community and the world with a proud and unique
The same examples can be found in Latin America, even though
we are a very different marketplace. They too have profound
and unique challenges to overcome.
At the core of these problems is an out dated and
inflexible legal system that affects Internet access. So
many not only need affordable computers, but intense
training and education.
High telephone costs in Latin America are a critical
problem and must be addressed soon.
That's why so many countries in the region are calling for
de-regulation of the telcom industries. Mexico among them
under pressure from the U.S. Government.
But even here there are impressive indications of what's
possible when access extends to all.
A good example is the two year old financial service company,
Patagon.com from Argentina, which was recently sold to the
Spanish bank Santander for $700-million. A fledgling
on-line firm full of twenty-something employees teaming with
cash from major old guard investment institutions. This is
the new face of business in Latin America.
On a different scale -- take Internet gift retailer
elregalo.com and its partnership with Mexican
retailing giant Grupo Gigante. They sell gift certificates
on-line around the world. Their primary target is the money
transfer market from the U.S. to Latin America. In 1999, U.S.
Hispanics sent $10-billion back home. And it is projected
that they will send over $40-billion in 2004.
There is so much opportunity.
Who better to meet our needs than those who want to empower
our community as well as profit from it? That's doing well
and good all at the same time. That is p-to-p ... the
path-to-profit and the promise of a better life.
I close today by expressing the greatest hope I have felt
for the future of our community, despite many of our on-line
I really believe it will be the Hispanic who knows best how
to humanize this crazy, fast paced technology ... so we really
can make it work for us and not divide us.
It's our nature. Building relationships, respecting multi-
culturalism ... a diversity of languages and people. This is
the kind of respect globalization must embrace.
I see the very make-up of computers with the same
romanticism as I view all who make up its Web. From the
inside out ... it all comes down to ones and zeroes.
It's the binary code of computers. Those gorgeous graphics
or astounding technological twists that send e-mails, add up
figures or display pictures ... they were all made possible by
simple ones and zeros.
Just as our bodies are made up of a vast community of
individual cells, the Internet is driven by individual ones
and zeros. Individual little numbers that when working
together make everything possible. Just like us on the Web.
To me, it's the perfect example of the power of the
individual in this big idea of globalization in cyberspace.
So far, businesses trying to capitalize on the Web look at
the world in terms of markets ... large groups of potential
buyers. The Latino community is exactly that.
But we are so much more.
By losing sight of the individual, we are limiting our
understanding of the potential, the prospects and the payoff.
We are legion. The one in the many. And there is real
power in that reality. And it's that psychology that could
empower the best of cyber business ... the best of a
I leave you with yet another image. My favorite...
Just as every constellation is made up of a vast swirl of
stars, and those stars are made up of a vast swirl of individual
molecules, and those molecules are made up of individual atoms
... so is our community and the on-line world made up of a
huge number of individual people, each with a name and a
dream. Ones and zeroes.
Show a man or woman the way to their own success and they
will trail blaze a path so clear that generations will
follow. Give them equal access to education, opportunity,
training and technology ... they will seize the dream.
If we can help build that path with them, we will have those
subsequent generations as business partners. We are legion.
Ones and zeroes. Individuals, who at last with equal
access can take charge of our own destiny. With the world
at our fingertips, we all can be just a click away from
making our dreams come true. Dreams as boundless as the