gelato

UTSA’s business faculty recently completed a nine-month research study on the financial preparedness of Hispanic business owners in San Antonio.

Contrary to previous studies, they found that San Antonio’s Hispanic business owners have considerable knowledge of financial planning for their businesses.

However, many of these business owners needed further training in order to implement this knowledge.

“There has been a lot of research or information in the popular press saying that Hispanics don’t know about finance for example, Ben Bernanke, the chair of the Federal Reserve, has given speeches showing that Hispanic high school students know less about finance and have less financial literacy than Anglo high school students. Given the growth in the Hispanic population we’re expecting, he expressed concern that this might affect the economy,” Dr. Dianna Stone, a professor in the department of management said.

Hispanics account for more than half of America’s population growth (50.5 percent) and currently make up 15 percent of the total population (Pew Hispanic Center, 2010). San Antonio has approximately 37,000 of the 224,000 small businesses owned by Hispanics in Texas (www.governor.state.tx).

Studies by Mass Mutual in Houston and Avalos & Peterson in Central California both showed that Hispanics had limited knowledge of finance or less knowledge of finance than Anglos.

UTSA’s business department worked with SAHCC and Mass Mutual to see what San Antonio’s Hispanic entrepreneurs knew about finance.

The results were inconsistent with previous studies, showing that knowledge of finance had little to do with ethnicity.

According to the UTSA study, 85 percent of Hispanic business owners recognized that financial planning is a top priority. However, only 46 percent of those owners actually used financial services. The results showed a correlation with revenue and financial services rather than ethnicity. Having more revenue logically allows any business owner the financial freedom to hire outside help for financial planning. Of those surveyed, 57 percent wished they were more in control of their finances and 46 percent feel that they do not have time to manage all their investments.

“I didn’t expect that our Hispanic business owners in our community would be less knowledgeable than anybody else. My assumption was that not everybody knows about finance in life, and not everybody uses financial services. We all know that we need to plan for retirement, but a very small segment of the population does that,” said Stone.

“Hispanic business owners in our community were somewhat to extremely knowledgeable about financial planning 65 percent, so that was really very inconsistent with what the previous studies had argued,” said Stone.

Virginia Balderas, a UTSA alumnus and owner of the very successful Da Vinci Gelato and Café. After graduating with a BFA in art, Balderas decided to study abroad in Italy to earn her MFA in art from UTSA. While in Italy, she was introduced to her tasty newfound passion which became the art of gelatos.

“When I was in college I always wanted to have my own business even though I didn’t know in what” Balderas said. “I loved the arts, and I went to school for art because that was my passion I found out about gelatos while living in Florence Italy gelatos are all over Italy, and they’re so refreshing, healthy and very popular among American tourists.”

After training with local gelato shops in Italy, she was able to bring her newfound knowledge back to San Antonio. In June 2004, she opened her first location off Stone Oak Parkway.

She’s opened another location in H-E-B Plus off Blanco and they wholesale to local restaurants, hotels and eateries.

In 2008, Balderas was awarded the “Latina Business Excellence Award” by the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, UTSA and Telemundo. Balderas encourages all students to learn as much as possible and take advantage of their current opportunities.

“Take advantage of the really good (UTSA) faculty members. Take time to study abroad, because for me that was one of the main things that I really loved and influenced me,” Balderas said.

“UTSA is always growing and offering great opportunities to inspire their students.”

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