Teaming Small Hispanic Businesses with Students in a Website Contest
ABOUT THE PROJECT
Together, the Rhode Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Rhode Island Israel Collaborative have partnered with tech company WIX to launch the RI Latino Biz Web Design Project.
Since the beginning of 2020, the COVID-19 crisis significantly impacted lower-income communities, particularly the Latino community. For this reason, the alliance of the RIHCC and the Rhode Island-Israel Collaborative (RIIC) focused on finding solutions to meet the needs of small Hispanic businesses while strengthening relationships between the Latino and Israeli communities. As a result of this analysis, incorporating technology in small Latino businesses has been identified as a core need and goal to support the Hispanic business community. Internet presence is critical to the survival and growth of small businesses in the current environment and moving forward in the digital age. In today’s market, small businesses cannot rely on foot traffic only.
This project was initiated to support the technology needs of small Hispanic businesses while fostering a connection between university students and the Latino business community in the State of Rhode Island.
The project accepts 50 applicants, specifically Rhode Island college/university students who are bilingual in English and Spanish and matches them with a small, Hispanic owned business with no web presence. The selected students will learn how to create a website for the small business through video trainings provided by a Wix employee. The students will present their websites to a panel of judges and the top 3 websites will be awarded with cash prizes.
To create a support system that incorporates technology into Latino businesses through the creation of websites, while establishing ongoing collaboration between university students and Hispanic small businesses that will support the economic development of the Latino business community.
ORIGIN OF PROJECT
During a conversation between the Founder and CEO of the RIIC, Avi Nevel, and Oscar Mejias, President and CEO of the RIHCC, the idea of finding easy and low-cost options for creating websites for small businesses was born. The idea originated from a personal experience for Avi, who was able to see the positive impact his wife’s practice had when he developed a website for her practice using the Wix platform. From here the idea was born that if a physician can benefit from internet presence, other microbusinesses in the Hispanic community can benefit as well. This spurred the initiative of asking the technology giant Wix (a tech company based in Israel) for a specific quantity of website premium licenses.
Together with the licences, we thought of selecting a group of bilingual university students who would be instructed in how to use the Wix platform to design and create a website for a small business owner, assigning one student per small Latino business.
Furthermore, educating Hispanic students to use the Wix platform will give them a tool they can use not only for this project, but also for many other potential businesses and for their own use. There is also the added benefit of civic responsibility in assisting the small Hispanic businesses.
The Consulate General of Israel to New England in Boston, Massachusetts has been instrumental in both connecting our team with Wix leadership and allocating funds to bring the project to fruition. We thank the Consulate General of Israel to New England for their continued support.
Avi Nevel’s experience and vision in collaboration with Oscar Mejias turned this idea into the creation of The RI Latino Biz Web Design Project.