2020 Grants Challenge

LA-Central American Business Initiative (LACBI)

The IBA LA-Central American Business Initiative (LACABI) enables LA entrepreneurs of Central American heritage to build businesses and jobs through trade with companies in Central America. LACABI provides online training and person-to-person coaching using proven IBA methodology and taps into the IBA network of accelerators in that region. The program will work with 40 companies, creating 100 direct and 250 indirect jobs.


In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

County of Los Angeles

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Expand existing program

Please list the organizations collaborating on this proposal.

Loyola Marymount

USC Blackstone Launch Pad

If you are submitting a collaborative proposal, please describe the specific role of partner organizations in the project.

Loyola Marymount University – The Center for International Business Education (CIBE) has received a $1 million grant from the US Dept. of Education. The LMU faculty will provide technical expertise, including its Personal Initiative business training program and resources from the College of Business Administration’s Kiesner Center for Entrepreneurship . It will also serve as a resource for recruiting interns.

USC –The Blackstone LaunchPad at USC will serve as a portal to the University for technical expertise and for interns. For example, the LaunchPad can connect participants needing expertise with blockchain applications to expert faculty in the Viterbi School of Engineering.

What is the need you’re responding to?

There are approximately 650,000 Central Americans living in Los Angeles County. A first wave arrived here as refugees from a result of the civil wars in the 1980s. Many of those initial refugees were given temporary protected status but the Trump Administration has threatened to deport those in TPS starting next year. Further waves of immigrants came after natural disasters and more recently fleeing gang violence. Most arrive with little formal education and remain among the poorest ethnic groups in LA County.

The Central America culture has traditionally supported entrepreneurism, although due to the hurdles to establishing businesses and accessing credit in the region, most are solopreneurs.

Like many immigrants and their children born here, the best path up the economic ladder is to start your own business. The LACABI creates upward mobility for the Central American immigrants and their children by enabling them to create and expand their own international businesses.

Why is this project important to the work of your organization?​

First, we have the know-how and capacity

Civic 180, through its International Business Accelerator program, has already worked with almost 40 LA companies to expand into global markets. We have recently created a bilingual online training course which will enable us to reach entrepreneurs at their homes on their schedules.

Second, we know Central America.

The IBA already has established connections through its ScaleUp LA-LatAm initiative with business incubators and accelerators throughout Central America. The IBA staff working have fluent Spanish and the Civic180 founder/CEO ran business programs at the US Embassy in El Salvador.

Third, we know Los Angeles County.

We have run in-person cohorts at Long Beach City College, LAX Coastal Chamber and USC Business School. We will be working closely with Loyola Marymount Business School with its Personal Initiative training program. Most importantly, a majority of our participants are women and minority founders.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this proposal?​

Direct Impact: 100

Indirect Impact: 250

Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.

The LACABI will provide needed job creation, as LA recovers from the COVID crash. The connections exist between those of Central American heritage in Los Angeles and families in the region. This project creates jobs by linking the two groups through trade. The typical multiplier used for job creation is 2.5 for each new enterprise (We are assuming $50,000 in additional sales on average per company. Also, for service companies, the multiplier is that for every direct job created, it will generate 2.5 indirect jobs. This project will create a group of successful entrepreneurs who can branch out into other business opportunities and inspire others in the Central American community.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.

Vision for success:

We are confident LACABI will be the catalyst to create a thriving small-business cluster for Central American community. The participants in this program, with their intimate knowledge of products available and tastes in both Los Angeles and Central America are in the best position to find these opportunities – from tech products to traditional ethnic food specialties.

Our metrics for success will be:

* Number of participating companies (goal: 40)

* New sales created: $2 million

* Jobs created by participating companies (goal: 100 direct and estimated 250 indirect)

Which of the CREATE metrics will your submission impact?​

Global cultural and economic influence (“soft power”)

Minority- and women-owned businesses

High-growth startups

Are there any other LA2050 goal categories that your proposal will impact?​

LA is the best place to LEARN

Which of LA2050’s resources will be of the most value to you?​

Access to the LA2050 community

Host public events or gatherings

Communications support