Written by Arkansas Real Estate
This week we were able to chat with our friend, Geovanny Sarmiento, Vice President of Minority Business Development with the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce. Before joining the Chamber, he worked in the banking and finance industry where, in addition to his management roles, he led community development and outreach efforts. Geovanny was born in Cuenca, Ecuador and is proud of his Latino heritage. He has a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration from the University of Azuay in Cuenca, Ecuador and is the first one in his family to graduate from college. Geovanny moved to the United States in 1998 and currently lives in Bentonville with his wife Lisa and their two daughters.
Geovanny helped create the Minority Leadership Councilworking with the Rogers Police Department and the Rogers Public Schools, and was recently appointed by Governor Mike Beebe to the NWACC Board of Trustees. He serves on a number of committees spanning from the NWA Council's The Higher Education Committee, the Diversity & Inclusion Strategy Committee, Gaps in Service to the MarshalleseTask Force, NWACC Adult Education, ALPFA, Rotary Leadership, and the American Chamber of Commerce Executives.
We were thrilled to be able to include him in this week's kibitz chat for all the work he is and continues to do to make a positive impact in minority business in Northwest Arkansas.
What does your role as Vice President of Minority Business Development do to promote and encourage minority business development in NWA?
We at the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce have a good strategy for Minority Business Development in Northwest Arkansas. My role is to develop and implement the strategy for growth and retention of our minority businesses and continue the growth of community. We are able to accomplish this by:
Minority Business Mentorship and Seminars
This program provides minority business owners the opportunity to learn valuable lessons from experienced mentors. Many of our Chamber members have become mentors and they help support minority owned businesses by providing free advice to minority entrepreneurs and guide them to more resources and information available to them at the Chamber including networking events. The program also holds quarterly seminars conducted in Spanish that are designed to provide business information and strategies.
Community Diversity Celebration
This festive networking event enables Chamber members to meet potential clients and customers in a relaxed, informal atmosphere while also learning about the diverse cultures in our area. Join us and celebrate diversity in business and community at our next event. Visit www.RogersLowell.com for a complete listing of dates.
NWA International Festival
The goal of this event is to promote, educate and serve the diverse cultural interests in Rogers and Northwest Arkansas. It features fun, family-oriented activities including traditional ethnic foods, cultural exhibits, international music and dance as well as an international fashion show. The entire event is free and offers something for all ages. Our members don’t have to travel around the world to make international contacts, they meet them at the NWA International Festival year after year.
Minority Community Involvement
Our members join forces with other leaders in the community to serve on our Minority Leadership Council. This is a group of concerned and caring citizens who actively meet with representatives of the Rogers Police Department and the Rogers Public Schools to help build relationship and improve communications with the minority community. The Council is helping to make our community more secure, encouraging student engagement as a vital component for increasing degree attainment and makes recommendations for diversity and inclusion initiatives.
Minority Business Task Force
This Task Force voices the needs of the minority business community. They work hard identifying education opportunities and recommending programs to address those needs. It is one of the keys to the success of our minority outreach efforts.
How would you define "minority business" in our community for those who live outside of our region?
A Minority Owned business is defined as a business in which more than 51% of the interest, stock and otherwise, is owned by minority group members.
- African American
- Asian-Indian American
- Asian-Pacific American
- Hispanic American
- Native American
We also consider Women Owned as well as Veteran Owned businesses a minority.
Can you tell us about any recent or upcoming new minority business developments?
The growth of our Region has sparked the interest of many minority entrepreneurs and we get regular inquiries for demographic and economic information as well as diversity and inclusion initiatives in our Region. Many minority businesses have already stated and some others like the second largest Spanish TV network in the nation have announced interest in doing business in NWA, we consider this a big win for our Region and we would continue to assist them in any way possible.
How can the community get involved in helping these efforts?
The work that has been done to make our Region a great place to live, work and play wouldn’t be possible without the support of the whole community. Thanks to this support our Minority Businesses are thriving and many minority entrepreneurs call NWA home. We now can flavor the traditional authentic Mexican tamales made here locally by Tortilleria La Popular or enjoy the Salvadorian staple, a fresh pupusa along with fresh brewed coffee from Restaurante Salvadoreno y Pupuseria #1. If you like the Caribbean flavor, try Havana Tropical Grill, and you won’t be disappointed buying fresh made Mexican bread and pastries at Gaby’s Bakery.
Continue visiting their businesses and buying their products or services, when you buy local you are not only helping that entrepreneur, but you are also helping your community grow and prosper.
Visit our website www.RogersLowell.com for a list of Minority Owned Businesses, you will find their locations and detail information of their products and services. At our website you can also find dates and times of our Minority events and if you would like to get more involved, can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.