Angela Franco: Advocating Minority Businesses in the Nation’s Capital
By: Latino Leaders Staff
Angela Franco has always had a passion for business and building relationships. As President and CEO of the Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GWHCC), she now channels that decades-long passion into ensuring Latino-owned and minority businesses have a voice in the larger business community in the Washington, DC, Metro region.
The Washington Metropolitan area is home to 906,000 people of Hispanic origin, making up 15.3 percent of the population, according to the Pew Research Center. The area has the 12th largest Latino population in the country.
“Hispanics are entrepreneurs at heart,” says Franco. “I am passionate about providing Latino and minority-owned businesses with the tools, coaching, and opportunities to reach their full, and promising, potential.”
This passion for helping to grow businesses in the region brought Franco to the GWHCC. The organization has thrived under her guidance since she took the helm in November of 2009. Upon assuming the position, her top priorities were to solidify GWHCC’s funding and grow the Chamber’s membership base. Under Angela’s leadership, GWHCC’s enrollment has skyrocketed from approximately 100 members to over 700. This has led to annual revenue of $1.3 million, up from $300,000 when she took the helm.
These are among the accomplishments that led the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to award GWHCC the formidable title of “Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of the Year” in both 2013 and 2015.
The GWHCC has helped Latino businesses thrive with programs such as Small Business Technical Assistance offerings and Workforce Development programming. In the past year alone, Angela has worked tirelessly to launch workforce development programs in partnership with the DC Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs, expand technical assistance programs to Prince
George’s and Montgomery counties and played a leading role in two regional economic development trips to Cuba.
Even with all of her accomplishments, Angela says she is just getting started. She and her small but mighty team of eight has been working to encourage minority businesses to be a part of GWHCC and take advantage of its programs. “The Chamber has had a steady and balanced growth throughout the years,” says Franco, “and with that growth comes opportunities to engage all of DC’s Metro region minority-owned businesses, bringing their talent into our diversified network.”
Franco directed her belief in the immense abilities of the Latino and minority workforce into her career trajectory. Born in Berkeley, CA, Franco spent most of her childhood in Bogota, Columbia. After obtaining degrees in business administration, finance, and life coaching from universities all over the world, she began her career in the financial world working in insurance and banking with a focus on the management of customer relationships and a passion for business development. In 2001, Franco joined the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation team, before joining BB&T bank. At BB&T, Franco became Manager of the Multi-Cultural Market where she led the bank’s Hispanic Initiative in the DC region, before joining GWHCC. It is Franco’s diverse experiences and passions that allow her to be the transformational leader taking GWHCC to great heights.
“We’ve accomplished a lot together,” Franco said. “But this is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s more work to do and I can’t wait to see where 2017 will take us.”
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