2014 Grants Challenge

Tianguis: A Digital Exchange of Goods Ideas and Cultura

A free bilingual app based resource & mutual aid platform for #latin@s comprised of a marketplace & classified ads


Please describe yourself.

Collaboration (partners are signed up and ready to hit the ground running!)

In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.

A free bilingual app based resource & mutual aid platform for #latin@s comprised of a marketplace & classified ads

Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit?

Central LA

East LA

South LA

San Gabriel Valley

San Fernando Valley

South Bay


What is your idea/project in more detail?

We aim to create a free bilingual location aware app targeted to, but not exclusively for Latin@s. This digital platform will seek to strengthen existing networks through the reciprocal exchanges and flows of goods, ideas, stories, and expressions. It will feature a marketplace to support Latin@ entrepreneurial and marginal workers so they may sell and barter their products and services. It will also feature a classifieds function to support, among other endeavors, the advertisement of relevant information such as: services, job listings, events, fundraisers, trades etc. By harnessing the expansive reach and networking impetus of mobile information technology we hope to support the socio-economic advancement and overall well-being of Latin

What will you do to implement this idea/project?

We will implement this project in three phases. The first phase is our research and discovery stage. In this phase we will work with our partners to refine the concept and design of our app. We will also solicit feedback from the community. The second phase is development. Here our tech partner will build the app. The third phase is the release, where we will begin to roll out the app to the community and work with our media partners to get the word out.

How will your idea/project help make LA the best place to CREATE today? In 2050?

As the largest demographic and drivers of new business growth, the success of Latin@s is paramount to ensuring Los Angeles County is the best place to create today and in 2050. Despite this favorable trend there are innumerable obstacles deterring Latin@ advancement such as high unemployment rates among others. For those finding relief within the informal economy creation is an indispensable necessity for survival. By placing language accessible technological tools & resources at a finger’s touch our project will serve to support current entrepreneurial activity and stimulate future formal business ownership.

As the current largest demographic in the county, and drivers of new business growth, Latin@s are poised to become tomorrow’s largest workforce and business owners. According to the 2013 census Latin@s make up 48.3% of the population in Los Angeles County. By 2050 Latin@s will surely continue to have an overwhelming presence in the county. It has also been noted that Latin@ owned businesses in Los Angeles are increasing in number at three times the national rate.

This project will digitize and thus amplify existing local Latin@ networks resulting in greater connectivity throughout Los Angeles County. Expanding these networks will facilitate and stimulate a greater volume of reciprocal exchanges and activities among its members both on and offline. Economic activity will be multiplied as access to a digital marketplace will provide greater market reach and thus increase the likelihood of increased earnings. Increased earnings for Latin@ marginal workers will serve to provide greater economic sustainability and provide a possible pathway from informal to formal business ownership.

Whom will your project benefit?

This project can benefit anybody but it’s particularly intended for Los Angeles County’s Latin@ marginal workers. In a 2005 Economic Roundtable study, Los Angeles County’s informal labor force has a low estimate of 322,400 to a high of 972,500. They are independent and self-sufficient. They are not necessarily tied to a particular industry but often make use of social networks and kinship ties for work. They are “millennials” and older folks. Some only speak Spanish while others are bilingual or speak only English. They are citizens and the undocumented. Some lack formal employment but are still generating income through various activities in the informal economy. These folks are domestic workers and day laborers. They include women setting up pop-up taco shops and pupuserias on San Fernando Valley sidewalks to men selling leather belts down central LA streets. They are seamstresses who offer clothing alterations from home and the countless mechanics fixing cars wherever they stand. They include the senoras and senores selling tamales in front of supermarkets; sobadoras and sobadores straightening out backs in shacks. This project will also benefit Latin@ artists wanting to make available their paintings, prints, buttons, books, CDs, videos, films, and other works of art for purchase. Or musicians such as mariachis and DJ’s looking to advertise their services, including young hip hop heads, punks, and bandas. Tiangius is a cause, linking and sharing creative ideas, products, new media, and stories.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

Our development partner is Arroyo Labs, They have worked with companies such as peet's cofee and k-swiss among others. They will be providing the technical leadership and expertise on the project. They will be implementing and maintaining the technology that drives the marketplace.

In addition we will be tapping into our network of non-profit organizations across Los Angeles to help bring the apps to their respective Spanish speaking constituents such as Tia Chucha's Centro Cultural, MEND, Youth Speak Collective, and Guayaba Kitchen. Over the years Elusive Minds Productions has also developed relationships with Spanish language media outlets such as LATV Live, Mun2, and Telemundo.

How will your project impact the LA2050 CREATE metrics?

Employment in creative industries

Jobs per capita

Minority- and women-owned firms

Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.

By providing the support for entrepreneurially inclined Latin@s in the informal economy our project will assist in the transition to and creation of minority-owned formal businesses. This project will disproportionately benefit Latina women as they index higher in such independent and often marginal work. Thus this project will also help increase minority women owned businesses.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project.

We will first evaluate the functionality of the app itself. By conducting a series of focus groups based around our own and partner constituents use of the app itself and its effectiveness of addressing and meeting their needs. Second we will have set metrics to meet for the user acquisition once the app is launched. The funding for this project in the first year will set the foundation for the long term life of the app and project.

What two lessons have informed your solution or project?

Working directly with the Latin@ community, Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural has come to learn and experience first-hand the degree of invisibility cast onto Latin@s within the wider common imagination. Often this abyss is filled with images and notions mangled by mass media and tainted by the ever present undertones of race politics. An associated affect of this unfortunate reality, among others, is a blind disregard for the many contributions and the great potentiality of the U.S.’s largest language minority. It is only recently that society at large is taking notice of this influential presence. Driving this awareness are large corporations casting Latin@s as the next viable market to profit from. More than just a Latin@s are stake holders and contributors to the future of Los Angeles. Los Angeles can’t become the great place hoped for unless we expand the idiom of pulling yourself up from your bootstraps to include the great African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.”

Latin@s are the fastest growing, trend setting demographic leading the acquisition and usage of mobile technology. According to Nielsen, 72% of Latin@s owned a smart phone in the third quarter of 2013. In 2014 this number is higher no doubt. Thus no other medium is suited and better positioned to propel the potentiality of Latin@ entrepreneurs then mobile-based social media. The sheer number of active users as well as the role of social media in the Arab Spring and other events of this magnitude demonstrate just how powerful and effective such technology can be in creating and mobilizing social networks on and offline.

Explain how implementing your project within the next twelve months is an achievable goal.

Implementing this project in the next twelve months will be achievable with funding from the LA250 grants challenge. With funding in place we’ll have the necessary capital to finance the development of the app and to hire a project manager. A project manager has already been assigned to oversee the process and has begun some preliminary research work.

Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?

The first major barrier we anticipate is acquiring enough users to have a significant impact. In order to remedy this we will launch a massive outreach effort. We will make use of our relationships with Spanish language media partners to introduce and encourage usage of the app. We will also make use of our network and relationships with other organizations and community groups across the county. In partnership with our extensive network we will actively engage one on one with our targeted audience. Presentations and workshops on the usage of the app will be conducted to capacitate interested users.

The second major barrier is that the development of the app is going to be the most time consuming process of the first year of implementation. However during this time we plan on strategizing and prepping for our marketing and outreach campaign of the app itself.

What resources does your project need?

Money (financial capital)