Eva Longoria stars at Senate hearing to promote Latina entrepreneurs

By Kent Hoover (Austin Business Journal)

Celebrity advocates are common on Capitol Hill, but actressEva Longoria was more than just a pretty face at a Senate hearing on “Strengthening the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem for Minority Women.” The “Desperate Housewives” star not only is an entrepreneur herself — Longoria owns two restaurants and manages her own production company — she’s also launched a foundation to help other Latinas start and grow their own businesses.

Witness: Eva Longoria, owner of Beso and SHe restaurants, manager of UnBeliEVAable Entertainment, and founder of the Eva Longoria Foundation.

Hearing: Senate Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee on expanding business opportunities for minority women

Why Longoria was there: To encourage more support for Latina business owners, many of whom are held back by lack of training and limited access to capital.

What Longoria is doing about it: Her foundation has teamed with philanthropist Howard Buffett (son of Warren Buffett) to launch a program to provide business training and $2 million in micro loans to Latina entrepreneurs over the next four years. The program is starting in Texas and then will expand to California.

What government can do: Increase funding for the Small Business Administration’s Women Business Centersprogram and the Minority Business Development Agency. “We are only emulating [these] successful programs,” Longoria said. Plus, the government needs to push banks to make loans to Latina business owners.

Longoria’s best lines: “Diversity breeds innovation, and that is what our country needs right now. … Latinas are one of our nation’s greatest natural resources, and we have to treat them as such. If we invest in giving Latinas the tools to unlock their potential today, we can create a brighter economic future for our country.”

How Longoria did: She stuck to her script, reading her prepared testimony in kind of a flat and formal manner. But she demonstrated an impressive knowledge of the SBA’s entrepreneurial development programs during questioning — maybe she should succeed Karen Mills as the SBA’s next administrator.

Supporting cast: Longoria was upstaged, however, by another witness on her panel. Sophia Parker, owner ofDSFederal Inc. in Gaithersburg, Md., choked back tears when she told how she went from growing up in an orphanage in Taiwan, to mortgaging her home and putting her life savings into starting her own business at age 50. “There were times when we very nearly lost everything,” Parker said. “We could have given up, but that is not the American way.” When she completed her testimony, she was greeted with a round of applause — a rarity at a congressional hearing.

Awkward moment: Longoria was confronted with the down side of being a Hollywood celebrity when the hearing ended. A pudgy guy (no, it wasn’t me) stuck a pinup photo of a scantily clad Longoria in front of her as she headed toward the exit and asked for her autograph. She ignored him. No matter how much she does to promote Latina entrepreneurship, Longoria is still just a sex symbol to some dorks.

Categories: NGL News

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