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Meet our Volunteer – Larissa Davila

By Diana Garcia

Meet Larissa, a Texan native, born and raised in a small town near the Mexico/US border called Laredo. Larissa graduated from Texas A&M International University with a bachelor degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Management. She has worked for big corporations such as FedEx, Sony and IBM, but she really loves working with small business owners. For her, small businesses are like little miracles that grow against all odds: very strong and resilient. Larissa loves her heritage and blends in very well with her community– embracing her roots and trying to pass them along to her son. One thing about her is that she loves helping and connecting with people; Larissa sees it like an art that is perfected with time.

Larissa shares her experience as a volunteer with EGBI and how you can get involved too.

Hi Larissa! To get started, would you mind  telling us a fun fact about yourself?

I love hiking and going to HEB. While it sounds funny, I really can’t picture myself living in any other state than Texas, the hot weather is also a big plus, although we have been getting colder in the last couple of years, living in the hot weather is my prerogative. I like to travel, but I always love to come back to home in Central Texas.

How have you volunteered for EGBI?

I have volunteered doing logos for small business owners and sharing my knowledge in classes for EGBI clients in business and marketing. I am also part of the marketing committee.

Why do you think it is important to volunteer?

It is important to volunteer because we are a community and we grow together. Besides, I have been the recipient of a lot of knowledge and help, so it is only fair that I give back. We need to keep the knowledge and the good energy flowing, it is good for the spirit.

“’Cuando ayudamos a un emprendedor a ser más estratégico para capitalizar sus talentos, ayudamos a toda su familia a tener una mejor calidad de vida, el apoyo que damos como voluntarios en EGBI es exponencial. Los conocimientos no se agotan, se multiplican.’   

[Meaning: When we help small business owners to be more strategic to capitalize their talents, we help their whole family to have a better quality of life, the volunteer service we do in EGBI is exponential. Knowledge is never depleted, it is multiplied.]” – Larissa Davila

Do you have a favorite experience about volunteering with EGBI?

Yes! I have made a few logos for clients, and it is amazing to see them excited about the new company image. It is a really nice feeling to know I have helped someone professionalize their brand.

 In 2020, EGBI volunteers put in more than 130 hours to help EGBI support and serve over 400 small businesses. Volunteers like Larissa make this possible and continue to help EGBI pursue their mission of training ,coaching, and supporting aspiring and existing business owners who face barriers to growing a successful business.

Want to get involved too? Contact us to find out how you can get involved.

Meet our Volunteer – Daniela Ariza

By Diana Garcia

Meet Daniela, a passionate volunteer and aspiring interpreter. Born and raised in Guanajuato, Mexico, Daniela decided to move to Austin in 2002.  Moving to Austin was one of the best and biggest decisions of her life. The welcoming community and the ability to grow and become better, were some of the reasons why she decided to stay. Throughout her childhood, Daniela was taught to care for and share with others. This led to her passion of volunteering and using her talents of translating, cooking, listening, and candy making to help others. There was a time in her life where Daniela felt insecure due to her fears, but overtime and through meeting amazing people, Daniela realized that it is never too late to become a better version of herself and that she is a part of a community that needs her. She wants to give a special thanks to the EGBI team for helping her become a better person and entrepreneur, and for jump-starting her passion for translating and interpreting.

Daniela shares her experience as a volunteer with EGBI and how you can get involved too.

Hi Daniela! To get started, would you mind telling us a fun fact about yourself?

Sometimes my face doesn’t show how I really am. I love to laugh – even though it doesn’t seem like it- but I don’t laugh just at anything, it has to be a really good joke or something worth laughing at.

How have you volunteered for EGBI?

I help EGBI translate documents, blog posts, etc. from English to Spanish. If there is anything else I can do to help EGBI, and if I have the talent for it, I would do it.

Why do you think it is important to volunteer?

It helps the soul. There is a phrase in Spanish that says, “Es más bonito dar que recibir,” meaning it is more beautiful to give than receive.

“Support your small business community today by supporting EGBI.” – Daniela Ariza

Why is it important to volunteer at EGBI?

EGBI helps you start and grow your business, because without business there are no jobs, to work and having a job dignifies you. Besides giving jobs, businesses give a lot more to the community, to schools, and other institutions in need and they help to keep a city running.

Do you have a favorite experience about volunteering with EGBI?

When COVID appeared everything seemed so unreal. I stopped working, my business was on pause, and I didn’t know what to do. But when Monica contacted me to translate all the information that they have for small businesses suffering from COVID-19, my mind stayed occupied and stopped thinking about my situation. Even though I decided to close my candy business, EGBI has helped me see that I have a new talent: translating. After that I started taking a course at ACC for translation and interpretation to become a certified translator and interpreter.

In 2020, EGBI volunteers put in more than 130 hours to help EGBI support and served over 400 small businesses. Volunteers like Daniela make this possible and continue to help EGBI pursue their mission of training ,coaching, and supporting aspiring and existing business owners who face barriers to growing a successful business.

Want to get involved too? Contact us to find out how you can get involved.

Meet our Volunteer – Ron Nemetz

By Diana Garcia

Meet Ron Nemetz, a passionate entrepreneur and small business owner. Ron started his career in the US Army. There he spent 10 years working as an Operation NCO and US Army Recruiter. In 1998, Ron decided to use the skills he learned from the Army and pursue a career at Monarch Technical Services. Here he spent 8 years as the recruiting and staffing manager. Ron is now the managing member and founder of Nemetz Insurance Services, where he specializes in helping micro businesses (20 or less employees) and entrepreneurs attain health insurance.

Ron shares his experience as a volunteer with EGBI and how you can get involved too.

Hi Ron! To get started, would you mind telling us a fun fact about yourself?
11 years ago, I somehow convinced my wife to move to Austin from Chicago
without her ever being to Texas before.

How have you volunteered for EGBI?
I’ve done some presentations and classes on Health Insurance for EGBI’s Small Businesses series.

Why do you think it is important to volunteer?
Sharing knowledge to start up companies in order to help them with a roadmap to future success only helps us all as a society.

“Newly created Small Businesses are the lifeblood of any community, providing them building blocks for success helps our community as a whole.” – Ron Nemetz

Why is it important to volunteer at EGBI?
EGBI provides knowledge and tools that if taken advantage of properly can help a new small business avoid making the mistakes of other failed small businesses.

In 2020, EGBI volunteers put in more than 130 hours to help EGBI support and serve over 400 small businesses. Volunteers like Ron make this possible and continue to help EGBI pursue their mission of training, coaching, and supporting aspiring and existing business owners who face barriers to growing a successful business.
Want to get involved too? Contact us to find out how you can get involved.

Meet our Volunteer – Anne La Grange

By Diana Garcia

Meet Anne La Grange, a Texas native from a small town near the border named Palmhurst. Anne is currently studying Finance and Spanish at the University of Texas. After graduation, Anne plans on working as an analyst in commercial banking at JPMorgan Chase and Co. In her free time, Anne enjoys playing tennis and running, and is currently training for the Austin marathon.

Anne shares her experience as a volunteer with EGBI and how you can get involved too.

Hi Anne! To get started, would you mind telling us a fun fact about yourself?

Even though it is not super popular in Texas, I used to ice skate competitively. I started at 6 years old and continued for 5 years. Eventually I quit to focus on school and tennis.

How have you volunteered for EGBI?

I helped EGBI prepare for their main annual fundraiser Celebrating Success by putting together their program, assisting with gift boxes, and creating marketing materials.

Why do you think it is important to volunteer?

It is important to volunteer because it helps build a sense of community. Volunteering allows you to give back and make a difference, while making friends and meeting new people.

“Supporting EGBI means supporting growth in your community.”Anne La Grange

Why is it important to volunteer at EGBI?

Volunteering with EGBI helps promote economic development and encourages sustainable growth. It directly created jobs and investment in the community, making a real difference in the lives of people in need.

Last question, do you have a favorite experience about volunteering with EGBI?

My favorite experience volunteering with EGBI was working with other volunteers to make gift baskets for Celebrating Success. As we worked, we chatted, bonded over our shared interests, and became friends.

 In 2020, EGBI volunteers put in more than 130 hours to help EGBI support and serve over 400 small businesses. Volunteers like Anne make this possible and continue to help EGBI pursue their mission of training ,coaching, and supporting aspiring and existing business owners who face barriers to growing a successful business.

Want to get involved too? Contact us to find out how you can get involved.

Meet our Volunteer – Shelly Cruz

By Diana Garcia

Meet Shelly, a 3rd  generation Austinite. Shelly has firsthand experience of breaking the cycle of generational poverty as she lived in affordable housing projects as a child and became the first college graduate in her family. She attended Texas State University’s McCoy College of Business where she received her BBA in Economics. Shelly’s work experience has included a diverse mix of industries and roles. She has worked in nonprofit economic development, banking, and HUD affordable housing compliance. She has a passion for community engagement and is heavily involved in community service and volunteerism with local nonprofit organizations. She currently serves as the Engagement and Giving Coordinator with the Tito’s Handmade Vodka philanthropy team.

Shelly shares her experience as a volunteer with EGBI and how you can get involved too.

Hi Shelly! To get started, would you mind telling us a fun fact about yourself?
A fave hobby of mine is exploring trails around Austin. Although I grew up here, I still have not explored every one. There’s so many! I have two children and this is a go-to weekend morning outing for us. Also, it is not uncommon for me to utilize a walk through a trail as a meeting option with friends and colleagues. I love theexperience of seeing, hearing, and feeling all that nature has to offer.

How have you volunteered for EGBI?
I have been involved with EGBI over the years in various capacities. I have had the opportunity to volunteer my time with EGBI by serving on the Marketing Committee and also by assisting with the annual Celebrating Success fundraiser. In my previous role with the Housing Authority for the City of Austin, an organization that helped found EGBI, I was able to deepen my knowledge and relationship with the mission EGBI serves by working with residents who were able to start their entrepreneurial journey because of EGBI. It was amazing to witness these stories unfold and see residents thrive in ways they never thought was possible.

Why do you think it is important to volunteer?
Community impact is driven by community members banding together and creating solutions. Volunteerism is the element that puts this concept into action. Every individual has overcome unique challenges and struggles and each of these perspectives brings value to create viable solutions that can benefit the overall good. I can speak firsthand to the benefits volunteerism can have as I was a child of poverty myself who oftentimes found myself on the receiving end of goodwill. I would not have been able to accomplish the goals I have had it not
been for organizations and their volunteers who provided tools and resources needed to succeed. This is the power of community impact and exemplifies how volunteerism is essential to empowering individual successes and results in stronger communities.

“EGBI provides tools and resources for the most vulnerable entrepreneurs and supporting this organization provides the necessary assistance to
widen the reach and capacity of the organization in order to provide greater economic development in our communities.” – Shelly Cruz

Why do you think it is important to volunteer at EGBI?
EGBI provides support to the entrepreneurs that need it the most. Starting a business is one of the most vulnerable challenges an individual can take on and the need for resources to mitigate the barriers involved is essential. Volunteering with and supporting EGBI provides the necessary assistance to widen the reach and capacity of the organization in order to provide greater economic development.

Last question, do you have a favorite experience about volunteering with EGBI?
My favorite experiences with EGBI involve working with Monica Peña on the marketing committee and witnessing her passion and expertise. Her excitement for the mission of EGBI is contagious and makes our projects fun and exciting. I also love the annual ice cream socials because I am able to see various supporters and clients of EGBI come together and unite.

…..

In 2020, EGBI volunteers put in more than 130 hours to help EGBI support and serve over 400 small businesses. Volunteers like Shelly make this possible and continue to help EGBI pursue their mission of training, coaching, and supporting aspiring and existing business owners who face barriers to growing a successful business.
Want to get involved too? Contact us to find out how you can get involved.

Meet our volunteer- Pilar sanchez

By Diana Garcia

Meet Pilar Sanchez. In 2000, she was responsible for starting another Housing Authority City of Austin (HACA) subsidiary, SHCC, from the ground up. SHCC now generates the revenue to fund the social services provided by Austin Pathways, the non-profit she currently leads at HACA. 

Sanchez’s entrepreneurial spirit was instrumental in co-founding a business incubator in East Austin in 2008. Sanchez brokered a three-tiered partnership between her employer, the Housing Authority (HACA), the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GAHCC), and the Hispanic Technology Institute of Austin (HTIA) to start an incubator that would help small to medium business thrive and create new jobs during the recession. This became the Economic Growth Business Incubator (EGBI), which spun off as its own independent non-profit in 2010. HACA still supports EGBI in many ways; they provide the space at Eastland Plaza, and have provided over $1 Million in funding for operations since 2010.

 

As a co-founder and lifelong EGBI volunteer, Pilar hopes that EGBI can encourage others to not only support themselves but to also support their families, friends, and community through the value of philanthropy. 

Pilar shares a quick fun fact about herself. “While my mother taught me to be a strong, independent, and caring person, she never taught me to bake. My daughter asked me to make her a castle made of cupcakes for her 4th birthday. John, my husband, knew we were in trouble when I could not find a box of cupcake mix in the cake-mix aisle.  Don’t ask me to bake for you; you might regret it. ” Although we may not ask her to bake for EGBI, her unwaivering commitment to EGBI and the local community is evident through all the areas she has volunteered for the organization. She has served on the board, various committees, and different projects throughout the years.

In 2020, EGBI volunteers put in more than 130 hours to help EGBI support and serve over 400 small businesses. Volunteers like Pilar make this possible and continue to help EGBI pursue their mission of training ,coaching, and supporting aspiring and existing business owners who face barriers to growing a successful business. 

Want to get involved too? Contact us to find out how you can get involved.

Meet Our Volunteer – Mike Lancaster

By Diana Garcia

Meet Mike Lancaster. Mike was born and raised in San Antonio, TX, but later moved to Round Rock with his wife and kids. He attended the University of Texas at San Antonio and earned a degree in Business Management.  Mike is a 25-years veteran in the banking industry. He is currently a Middle Market Business Banker at Wells Fargo Bank.  Mike has held many leadership positions in the consumer and business lending division of Wells Fargo across Texas, New Mexico, and Louisiana.  Mike also is a mentor to many junior bankers.  

He is on the board of EGBI and a Board Member of the Round Rock Chamber of Commerce.

Mike shares his experience as a volunteer with EGBI and how you can get involved too. 

Hi Mike! To get started tell us a fun fact about yourself.

I am a graduate of Leadership Round Rock class of 2014. In my free time I Coach YMCA Soccer, and love to travel around trying out new restaurants. 

How have you volunteered for EGBI?

I have taught classes, attended events and have been an active board member for the past 7 years. I just love to hear the stories from our clients of what inspired them to start a small business and how they went about accomplishing their goals. 

Why do you think it is important to support and volunteer with EGBI?

EGBI helps individuals fulfill their dream of starting and running a small business. EGBI provides clients the coaching and support they need to accomplish their goals. 

“You should support EGBI because they provide the coaching and support to small businesses to help them succeed financially.” Mike Lancaster

Why is it important for EGBI to help small businesses in Central Texas? 

EGBI helps build the foundation and provide ongoing coaching support for business owners to help them be successful. So many businesses fail because they don’t have the support or knowledge about how to run a small business.   EGBI helps bridge those gaps and provide a support network to help clients to be more successful. 

In 2020, volunteers put in more than 130 hours to help EGBI support and serve over 400 small businesses. Volunteers like Mike make this possible and continue to help EGBI pursue their mission of training ,coaching, and supporting aspiring and existing business owners who face barriers to growing a successful business. 

Want to get involved too? Contact us to find out how to get involved.  

Meet Our Volunteer – Mary Lou Lugo

By Diana Garcia

Meet Mary Lou Lugo, an Austinite unicorn (someone born and raised in Austin, Texas). For the last 10 years Mary Lou has dedicated her life to the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, graduated in their Hispanic Leadership class of 2020, and has volunteered at EGBI.

Mary Lou shares her experience as a volunteer at EGBI, and how you can get involved too. 


Hi Mary Lou! To get started tell us a fun fact about yourself that many people may not know. 

I was a HUB certified business owner; the name of my company was 4D Printing. My biggest customer was the Texas Lottery where I printed for them for 20 years. 

How have you volunteered for EGBI?

I have volunteered as a committee member for Celebrating Success.

Why do you think it is important to support and volunteer with EGBI?

EGBI is a tremendous advocate of helping people become entrepreneurs. Supporting EGBI in turn supports new small businesses.

“EGBI is a strong advocate of helping small businesses which helps stimulate the local economy and create and sustain jobs.” Mary Lou, Volunteer

Why is it important for EGBI to help small businesses in Central Texas? 

Small businesses are the heart of Central Texas and need our support. 

In 2020, volunteers put in more than 130 hours to help EGBI support and serve over 400 small businesses. Volunteers like Mary Lou make this possible and continue to help EGBI pursue their mission of training ,coaching, and supporting aspiring and existing business owners who face barriers to growing a successful business. 

Want to get involved too? Contact us to find out how to get involved.

Meet Our Volunteer – Nayeli Gallegos

By Diana Garcia

Meet Nayeli Gallegos, the President and Co-Founder of Red Carpet Productions, a brand management agency. Nayeli has 15 plus years of experience in marketing, communication, event planning, and business development, through her previous jobs at the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GAHCC) and EGBI. Nayeli graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Business Administration and holds an MBA on Entrepreneurship from CEPADE Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. A champion of women empowerment, in 2019 Nayeli was recognized as the Hispanic Female Entrepreneur of the year by the GAHCC. 

Nayeli Gallegos shares her journey at EGBI, and how you can get involved too.


Hi Nayeli! To get started tell us a fun fact about yourself that many people may not know. 

Well, I’m originally from Mexico. In 2002, I did something crazy and married my high school sweetheart. I left my country and moved to Austin, I was only 19 years old. We have grown up together, have two beautiful girls, and co-founded a business in the liquor industry. In this journey, almost 19 years after moving to Austin, I finally became a US citizen this year.

How have you volunteered for EGBI?

I feel like I’ve always been a part of EGBI. When I was Director of Economic Development at the GAHCC, EGBI was an important component of our initiatives. Then, I went to work for EGBI for about 6 years, and when I left my job to focus on my business, I continued to stay involved with the marketing and the Celebrating Success committee.

Why do you think it is important to support and volunteer with EGBI?

I’ve always believed in the importance of giving back to the community, and aside from the financial support, one of the best ways to help is by volunteering time and talent to EGBI. 

“ Volunteers are key in helping EGBI accomplish its mission.” Nayeli Gallegos

Why is it important for EGBI to help small businesses in Central Texas? 

Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, if we have healthy businesses that are producing and creating jobs, families will prosper, and our entire community will benefit from it.

In 2020, volunteers put in more than 130 hours to help EGBI support and serve over 400 small businesses. Volunteers like Nayeli make this possible and continue to help EGBI pursue their mission of training ,coaching, and supporting aspiring and existing business owners who face barriers to growing a successful business. 

Want to get involved too? Contact us and find out how to get involved.

Meet Our Volunteer – Amber Kani

By Diana Garcia

Meet Amber Kani, a passionate nonprofit executive and corporate citizenship leader.  Amber serves as an advocate for financial mobility, and has held past roles with the American Red Cross, Texas Stars Foundation, and Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. She works at DreamSpring, a nonprofit community development finance organization that assist underserved entrepreneurs access to their piece of the American Dream. Actively engaged in her community, Amber recently served as Board Chair of the Financial Literacy Coalition of Central Texas, and has volunteered her time with EGBI’s marketing department, Celebrating Success Committee, and as an instructor. 

Amber Kani shares her experience as an EGBI volunteer and how you can get involved too. 

Hi Amber! To get started tell us a fun fact about yourself that many people may not know. 

I am a vegan, but I absolutely adore vegan junk food. I have an instagram account dedicated to my Austin food finds and at-home creations: @vegantrashmonster

How have you volunteered for EGBI?

I’ve served on the marketing and events committees and taught small business workshops. I’ve also participated in matchmaking events where entrepreneurs ask market research questions and learn more about potential clientele. 

Why do you think it is important to support and volunteer with EGBI? 

Small businesses need help now more than ever. EGBI provides entrepreneurs with the tools and support they need to grow and thrive. Empowered with expertise, mentorship, and access to subject matter experts from EGBI, small business owners can create new jobs and offer critical products and services. Volunteering allows me to connect directly with emerging entrepreneurs and keep my skills fresh while helping create new opportunities in my own backyard. 

“EGBI makes the American Dream a reality and you can be a part of helping a neighbor in need. Support for EGBI is support for your favorite small business – the taco shop you couldn’t live without, the mechanic who always fits you in, the hair stylist who gives you the perfect bangs. These businesses make our community vibrant and by supporting EGBI, we are ensuring their success for years to come.  Amber Kani, Volunteer

Why is it important for EGBI to help small businesses in Central Texas?

The pandemic shed light on the enormous challenges small businesses face, but even in a normal environment entrepreneurship is hard. For underserved groups like women, minorities, and low income people, the chance to own a business can seem like a distant dream. It shouldn’t be as difficult as it is, and EGBI provides the boost entrepreneurs need to take that next step. To be a small business owner, you need to be a marketing guru, operations lead, human resources manager, and financial advisor – all in one. EGBI makes it easier to deconstruct the components of a successful business.

In 2020, volunteers put in more than 130 hours to help EGBI support and serve over 400 small businesses. Volunteers like Amber make this possible and continue to help EGBI pursue their mission of training ,coaching, and supporting aspiring and existing business owners who face barriers to growing a successful business. 

Want to get involved too? Contact us and become an EGBI volunteer!