Challenge yourself to grow! I had the opportunity to participate in the Women in Business Challenge, presented by the Urban League of New Orleans during the month of March. It was such an enriching experience! Last year, I was sitting in the audience during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week watching the women present their companies during the challenge, and while listening to their stories I thought, ?next year, I want to stand there and tell my own story.? And I did exactly that. I applied to the program, participated, and was among the four finalists this year. My public-speaking fear was challenged. I would have never thought that I could stand in front of three hunderd people who were gathered to listen to our stories. The Women in Business Challenge is a great opportunity for women business owners to compete for a prize of ten thousand dollars. During the challenge entrepreneurs also receive a 9-week training session to learn how to make their business grow. I knew what I wanted to accomplish when I started my own company Sensa Design, but I was clueless as to what approach to follow to make it there. After going through this learning experience, I feel ready to take the next step and aim my company in the right direction. I learned about finance, social media, and human resources, among many other things. I understood the importance of writing down a business plan and setting the mission and values of the company. Having these tools is essential to focus and keep the business in the right track. I was proud to represent my community and to be the first Latina participating in the challenge. All women business owners who are reading this note should take a moment and contact Klassi Duncan from the Urban League of Greater New Orleans to get into this program. Remember the words of Amelia Earhart: ?The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.?
SOMOS NOLA By Christopher Ard brown like me If you spoke with me on the phone, you?d have no idea I was half-Mexican. However, because of genetic luck, many people who see me on the street greet me with ?What?s up, mi amigo!? I like to tell people I got the brown gene in my family. You can see it in my eyes, my hair, and my skin tone? but mostly in the summer. There was another famous New Orleans resident whose brown gene made him famous. Benito Juárez was born in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 1806. Having Zapotec heritage, he became a hero of Mexico for separating the church and state, and for his native American heritage. In the mid- 1850?s, Benito was exiled for his liberal views and like most other liberals lost in the world, ended up in New Orleans? twice. The story has it that Benito lived in New Orleans for about three years. Although he was a lawyer in Mexico, Benito?s life was anything but luxurious here in New Orleans. At one point he rolled cigars on St. Peter Street in the Quarter. He lived a life of poverty in New Orleans until he returned to Mexico to kick out the foreign rulers and transform his country into a modern nation. Many believe that it was his time here in New Orleans that influenced his thoughts on inequality and race. 53 years ago from April 22nd to the 29th, New Orleans celebrated ?Mexico Week? as the city prepared to dedicate a statue of Benito Juárez on Basin Street. The city welcomed a delegation of 100 representatives from Mexico to help throw the party. To thank New Orleans for the hospitality shown to their hero, Mexico commissioned an artist to create an enormous statue of Juárez which today still stands on Basin and St. Louis Streets ? known as the Garden of the Americas. During the dedication of the statue, former Mexican Ambassador to the United States, Hugo B. Margain, said this, ?Juárez is here, not as a mere gift from one nation to another, but as a reminder to young and old, that the humblest of origins is no impediment to greatness; that poverty of worldly goods can be overcome by spiritual wealth.? That brings me back to the beginning of this story? my brown gene. Guanajuato, M éxico. Photo Cr edit: Chr istopher Ar d " 21