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Hispanic Chamber of E-Commerce Connects Community

Tayde Aburto

When Raul Salas went to open his own hair salon after working as a stylist for 21 years, he had no idea what to do.

Salas said that he put a down payment on leasing space for his salon in Hillcrest and thought that was it.

“It’s not like that; there’s so many hurdles and so many different things,” Salas said. “I definitely needed help.”

On a client’s advice, Salas turned to the Hispanic Chamber of E-Commerce and its president and chief operating officer, Tayde Aburto.

“The chamber has been amazing and Tayde, as well, because he’s been connecting me to all the people needed to have my business happen,” Salas said.

That included designing a website for Salas’ salon, Gallery West Hair Salon, and getting the permits he needed.

“Tayde’s been walking me through the whole process,” Salas said, adding that his business is thriving, he’s hired seven stylists and he’s looking to add more.

1,100 Members

Formed by Aburto eight years ago in San Diego, the Hispanic Chamber of E-Commerce has about 1,100 members. Membership fees range from $50 for students to $10,000 for a premier corporate membership. Most members pay $200, Aburto said, adding that the chamber has sold three premier corporate memberships.

“So, while some business associations are struggling to recruit new members, we have been blessed by many thanks to their trust in what we do and how we do things,” Aburto said. “We are committed to deliver value and opportunities to all of our members, not just the ones that are investing big dollars in us.”

The chamber’s fee for any digital services it provides varies, according to what a business needs.

For example, the chamber charged Salas $800 to help develop his web site and cover his membership fee, Aburto said.

About 70 percent of the chamber’s members have brick-and-mortar stores, Aburto said.

According to its website, www.hiseb.com, the chamber offers a wide range of services from web design and search engine marketing to social media training and business consulting.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to have all these retail locations have a stronger online presence,” Aburto said. “If they have a good product, we want to make sure that a lot of people know about this. The more prosperous they become, that’s going to have an impact on the whole community.”

Small Business Focus

Hispanic businesses tend to be small, family-owned operations with a handful of employees run by people who are unfamiliar with doing business online or have minimal experience with e-commerce, Aburto said.

“Most businesses have their own website or Facebook page or some type of social media presence. A lot of Latino businesses do not have that,” Aburto said. “With some of our members, we have started with creating an email account. That’s how basic we have to go.”

Others might have the basics, but need help expanding their online trade, or just general help in expanding their business.

Erick Magana, owner of Premium Business Films, who joined the chamber in December, said it’s been a great source of referrals.

“Tayde and the Chamber of E-Commerce are always connecting me with the right people, people who I can collaborate with,” Magana said. “He introduces me to key people in the community that can give me more work.”

Vidal Espinosa, chief operating office of Invictus Advisors, said that the chamber has been an invaluable resource in helping the accounting firm improve its online presence, in referring clients and connecting them with other Latino businesses.

“If we have an issue or anything, there’s members there that can answer our questions,” Espinosa said. “They have seminars on various social media, on how to do it and what not to do.”

The chamber fills a critical need for Latino business owners who may need consultation on using the internet properly for business.

“They think that just by having a web page or by having an ad in Craigslist or something, that’s going to work,” Espinosa said. “They don’t fully understand the capacity online has.”

Building on the success of the Hispanic Chamber of E-Commerce, Aburto is forming the Hispanic Chamber of E-Commerce Foundation (http://www.hiscec.org), which he said will have a broader focus, offering digital training and other services not directly tied to running a business.

The idea is to bridge what he said is a “digital divide” between the Hispanic community and the general population.

“We’re going to go more into computer literacy,” Aburto said. That could range from showing parents how to find and apply for scholarships for the college-bound children to workshops that would teach people how to look for jobs online.

“Maybe three or four years from now, we’ll be able to say San Diego has the most tech-savvy Latino community in the country,” Aburto said.

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