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How One Woman is Fighting to Preserve Minority-Owned Businesses in Denver

Yessica Holguin

Gentrification is a real concern across the city and county of Denver.

According to a recent study by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, Denver is the number two city in the country battling gentrification. The struggle for opportunity and access to land has made the market harder for several business owners throughout the city. Many businesses are being forced to foreclose or leave the Denver area as a result of gentrification. Since 2017, Yessica Holguin has been fighting to help small businesses stay alive. Her organization, Center for Community Wealth Building helps to make sure minority-owned businesses have the resources they need to thrive.

The organization utilizes 3 key strategies to uplift and promote local businesses throughout metro Denver. The first strategy is to democratize ownership to push individuals towards fully owning their businesses. This strategy to develop worker cooperatives helps increase economic access. It provides employees ownership opportunities and more stability to the businesses by connecting to additional social and financial capital. When individuals own their jobs and their properties they are less likely to be pushed out if property values increase. The second key is to support entrepreneurs of color in Denver. Center for Community Wealth Building does this by connecting business owners to resources.  Hosted events connect these business men and women to local institutions, and distributing lists of minority-owned businesses.

The third and last key is building relationships between small minority-owned businesses and anchor institutions, such as hospitals and universities. This encourages local institutions to shift some of their spendings to local businesses. Also, to create career pathways for entry-level jobs, and reinvest at least 0.5% of their endowments into locally-owned businesses. These strategies build connections in local communities. They also allows institutions to reinvest into the community in which they operate.

By utilizing their three key strategy

 system, the non-profit has been able to help many businesses stabilize and thrive over the last few years. According to the executive director, Yessica Holguin, the organization has helped many locally-owned caterers to increase their market. She was raised in Denver, a Kennedy High School graduate. Yessica Holguin’s worked with the Center for Community Wealth Building since 2017. Her work in local communities began long before that. She has been organizing with local grassroots efforts since the 2000’s to uplift immigrant and low-income communities.

Yessica earned her Bachelor of Science in Business and Administration.  By age 21, she also earned a Master’s Degree in Management and Organization from the University of Colorado. Her passion for providing for resources to under-served communities. Her education led her to join the Peace Corps in Nicaragua. Ms. Holguin’s experience in the Peace Corps taught her the importance of international and local economics. Educational resources she provides for business led her to create the Center for Community Wealth Building in her home state. Holguin knows her mission in life. It is to “end the cycle of poverty through education and entrepreneurship in communities across the world.”

Holguin’s passion has continued to help many business owners across the

metro area follow their dreams. During COVID-19, the organization has actively worked with local caterers to help them stay afloat. With her non-profit’s assistance, they have connected minority-owned companies with grants from local institutions. They are also offering additional resources for minority-owned businesses in Denver. Make sure to check out their website to learn how you can uplift local businesses!

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