Monica Robles spent her career in the corporate world and as an entrepreneur.
Working with domestic and international companies, as well as government agencies, she coached leaders in generating profits and increasing market-share growth.
As the founder and president at Heart Centered Leadership Coaching & Consulting Group, Robles also has a passion for helping her communities. She especially wanted to help community members with no support to find their passion and build successful businesses.
Leveraging her professional experience and an executive MBA from IE Business School (Instituto de Empresa) in Madrid, Spain, she launched Asociación de Emprendedor@s.
Asociación de Emprendedor@s motivates and empowers the Spanish-speaking community to start their own microbusinesses. The nonprofit organization was started to assist women who were the victims of domestic violence, helping them to discover and embrace ways they could support themselves and their families. It has grown to serve all only-Spanish speakers who wish to create stronger futures for themselves.
The Emprendedor@s Program now serves Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange and Los Angeles counties. The program has three main pillars: empowerment of the individual, development of their leadership and technical assistance in business creation and development.
“Even though we are a small non-profit organization, our impact with our monolingual Hispanic community is big,” Robles said. “They are their own leaders with the inner power to create anything they set their minds to.”
Concepcion Reyes, who graduated from the program in 2018, was working for a Chinese restaurant while also attending the program. She knew she wanted to quit her job where she felt she was underpaid and underappreciated, and started to plan for the transition. She started catering small parties and found that her services were in demand. Her husband saw her success and joined the program as well. When he graduated, he joined her to build the business.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the couple provided services to the San Bernardino Police Department with more than 300 meals. Inspired by their success, Reyes and her husband have continued participating in many other entrepreneurship programs, continuing to learn and grow.
“Both Concepcion and her husband are a great leadership example for their three children,” Robles said. “Their main dream is to have their own restaurant. She and her husband are from Oaxaca, Mexico and their business name is ‘El Sabor de las 8 Regiones.’”
Recently, Asociación de Emprendedor@s received a grant from the CIELO Fund through the Inland Empire Community Foundation. Robles pours her time and money into the program but hopes to continue growing with community support and grants. Last year, the program served 284 participants in 14 cohorts.
More than a technical assistance program, the Emprendedor@s Program helps participants discover self-empowerment and embrace that they are leaders. The Emprendedor@s Program workbook, written by Robles, includes topics of resilience, faith, and eliminating negative self-talk. Participants are vetted before a space is saved, and they must commit to the program and to creating opportunities for themselves.
Robles encourages attendees to learn English to help their businesses thrive and to find more opportunities to take classes to grow their business acumen. However, having a Spanish-only platform to start their journey can be very impactful, Robles said. Even those who are working toward becoming fluent in English are better able to understand and discuss content when it is presented in their native tongue.
“They think they are going to learn how to start a business but don’t realize they will learn how to treat themselves and others,” Robles said. “The whole dynamic changes. They are aware that they are leaders, and their families emulate them.”
Information: https://www.asociaciondeemprendedores.org/ or 714-640-6908
Inland Empire Community Foundation works to strengthen Inland Southern California through philanthropy.