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 Latinos represent Marin’s youngest and fastest growing demographic group, and have the highest labor participation rates, yet face many barriers to education and quality jobs, according to the Canal Alliance. 

    Construyendo mi Negocio (Building my Business), a 10-week class sponsored by Marin Small Business Development Center in partnership with Canal Alliance, is one such essential pathway. Taught in Spanish, participants are empowered to start small businesses, often in their native language and in their community, that contribute to the vibrancy of the local economy. 

    “This class provides people with the tools and resources they need to launch a business,” said Axel Flores, senior manager of Workforce Development at Canal Alliance. “It makes an impact —  participants have a place to develop their ideas and people to turn to with their questions.” 

   The curriculum covers topics such as personal budgets, mission and goal-setting, administration and operations, finance and accounting, costs and break-even points, market research and marketing. Taught by SBDC instructors at Canal Alliance, the course provides people with essential skill training and business best practices. The Workforce Development team at Canal Alliance then helps participants obtain an Individualized Taxpayer Identification Number. The number is issued by the IRS to ensure that everyone, including undocumented immigrants, files income regardless of immigration status. 

Iris DeLeon started her own flower business with help from a 10-week class sponsored by Marin Small Business Development Center in partnership with Canal Alliance.

 Iris De León took the course and soon was selling floral creations online from her home. 

   “Brick and mortar locations are very expensive, so I started from my garage in Terra Linda. I applied for my vendor license, and I opened two months ago with online sales. My dream is to have my own shop one day and employ others, “ De León said.

   Canal Alliance also offers certificate job training, career-pathway guidance, job-retention support and case-managed assistance to individuals and families, helping people access and keep jobs that provide living wages.  For more information, visit


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