ST. LOUIS - Recognizing diversity through local entrepreneurship. That was the theme at the first ever Gateway 2 Flourishing Summit in downtown St. Louis Saturday.
The all-day summit focused on connecting local minorities and immigrants with resources to become future entrepreneurs.
Crossover Media founder Ricardo Garza is the brainchild behind it all.
"It’s people who don’t even speak the language to feel welcomed," Garza explained, "so it’s bigger than just the color of the skin, so language barrier or where there’s an age barrier, so the big thing is to unite them.”
Garza also owns Club Atletico St. Louis which unties all cultures through sport with a mission to bridge what he says is a multi-cultural divide within the city.
Saturday’s keynote speakers included Khalia Collier of Surge Professional Women’s Basketball Team and Lindsay Eversmeyer of Fire and Ice Soccer.
“So if we can empower the already existent businesses here and they are the speakers and they are the presenters and they are the learners then the ones who don’t speak that language can feel welcomed because someone from their culture is teaching them.”
Nadine Biakenga of Congo showed up with her English tutor, Maryann Zaggy.
Biakenga’s passion is stitching clothes and wants to one day launch her own business of designing and selling.
“It just hit a chord with me," said Zaggy, "but also it’s exciting. I’m old and retired and it’s really exciting to see young people who have such energy, talent and bravery to get started on doing something.”
Josue Martinez-Herrera is just 17-year-old but was one of the first ones to arrive for the summit.
Martinez-Herrera said he wants to get a head start at a young age and latch on to a mentor who can teach him the ins and outs of one day owning a business in media and production.
“I just want to spread a message because there are a lot of troubled youth, with me just being me,” he said, “I’ve got the mentality, the ambition, persistence, and innovation.”