Schools & Education

Speaking the Language of Business

Gavilan College and El Pajaro Community Development Corp team up to offer business classes to Spanish speakers

Marco Vinicio Vides makes his way into the Gavilan College Briggs building in Downtown Hollister on a recent Saturday morning, ready to help his students learn to take their businesses to the next level. Since March, he has been making the drive to Hollister to teach business classes to Spanish-speakers for whom business resources have not been accessible.

Vides, a business consultant who works with El Pajaro Community Development Corp, teaches adults from a variety of backgrounds on how to start and grow their businesses. The not-for-profit organization promotes the development of micro-businesses by helping low-income minority entrepreneurs in San Benito, Santa Cruz and Monterey counties.

The 10-week course, which consists of 24 students, offers community members who want to learn how to start a business the opportunity to do so by learning the necessary skills to take their idea from start to finish. Vides says he gives his students  a “reality check” to see if their idea is going to work. From there, they go through the process, such as market analysis, accounting, forecasting sales and profit, tax liability, operations, and even hiring and firing.

Gavilan College teamed up with El Pajaro to create the program. After the state began funding adult education programs, they decided it was time to ramp up them up. The state wanted the local community colleges to see what they needed in their communities needed said Gavilan College’s Community Development and Grants Management Associate Dean, Randy Brown.“We wanted to offer it right here because we feel the people of Hollister would enjoy it,” he said. 

For Jaqueline N. Partida, a stay-at-home mom, the opportunity to learn how to start a business from her home was something she couldn’t pass up. Originally from Jalisco, Mexico, Partida was taught to work from a young age but after coming to Hollister with her husband and children she decided taking care of her kids would be best. Yet she felt like she needed to do something to help the family financially.

 After hearing about the program in her English class, she decided to enroll. She said she feels as though there is nothing in San Benito County that is offered to Spanish-speaking women, therefore she hopes to start a business that caters to them. “This class has shown me what steps I need to take to make that happen,” Partida said.

The program is not only for those who want to learn how to start a business, but also for those who already have a business and want to learn how to take it to the next level.

“We have four current business students who really want to learn how to further their business,” said Vides.

Patricia Castro, owner of Su Casita Multiservicios LLC, said she heard about the classes after a friend told her to enroll. Opened in 2008, her business offers clients the ability to send money to other countries, cash checks, send mail, file their DMV paper work and get proper documentation. 

Castro said she felt that there were a lack of services that dealt with the client directly, especially for the Latino market. As the years passed, she felt like her business was at a standstill. “I need to learn a way to get more clients and learn how to get more publicity,” she said. “I want to learn how to have a better business strategy and how to direct my employees better.”

The program includes people from throughout Latin America.“We have people from Venezuela, Peru, Mexico. We have people who are professionals in their own countries: doctors, accountants, computer science,” said Vides.

Arturo Franco, along with his family, came to Morgan Hill from Venezuela. There, he had a variety of different businesses including a cleaning service for hospitals, colleges and supermarkets and a construction agency.  

Due to political problems in Venezuela, he had to flee the country. “We left everything,” he said. 

Through the program Franco has been able to learn how to invest his money. “I hope that through this program I can find a business to invest my money in,” he said. “It’s orienting me in how we guide our lives in an economic sense and I thank the college for this opportunity.”

After the completion of the program, El Pajaro offers students additional counseling support and a loan to get their business started.

J. Rodrigo Garcia,who came to Hollister 10 years ago, said he hopes to get the loan. The San Benito High school graduate wants to open a gallery featuring and selling handmade artisanal items.

Vides appreciates the students and really sees their need and want to learn. “They sacrifice their Saturdays, they want to learn, and they drive from all over to get here, he said. “Hopefully this will help them move forward.”

Vides wants to encourage the public to approach Gavilan for more programs such as these.

“I’m going to be positive,” he said. “There are at least 10 people here who will open a business.”

Laura Romero

Laura Romero has been a reporter and handled marketing/social media for BenitoLink. She has covered education and city government. Formerly, she worked as an assistant account executive at Pembroke PR in San Francisco, where she assisted with press outreach, event coordination, and social media planning. With her PR skills, she has helped to implement social media strategies and develop online giving campaigns for BenitoLink. Laura continues to contribute to BenitoLink on a freelance basis.