Latino entrepreneur giving guidance to Philly’s Hispanic businesses
As Chair of the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Nestor Torres acts as a check to the organization's vision and strategic plans.
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For the sake of Hispanic economic prosperity across the nation, the United States Chamber of Commerce has established numerous branches to support Hispanic businesses nationwide.
Nestor Torres is the Chairperson of the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, a nonprofit coalition of businesses, entrepreneurs, and individuals that have come together for the development of the Hispanic economy in Philadelphia, regardless if they themselves are Hispanic.
“We look at if you have a shared vision that aligns with the [Chamber], and that is the advocacy and promotion of commerce of Latinos and Hispanic businesses within the region,” Torres said in an interview with AL DÍA.
As Chair of the Chamber, Torres oversees the organization’s strategic vision, ensuring that its actions align with its mission, and looks ahead to see how their actions are best aiding the Hispanic businesses of the city.
The Chamber was established in 1990, and since then it has served numerous businesses and nonprofits throughout the region with educational resources, multicultural marketing opportunities, and has worked to develop the city’s workforce.
His position keeps him in close contact with the leaders in the Chamber, ranging from the many board members, to its staff, to the President and CEO Jennifer Rodriguez.
Torres, like many of the managerial staff, operate the Chamber through its committees, whose matters include governance, policy, or membership. Oftentimes, board members sit on these committees, leading them as Chairpersons.
An example of this Torres gave was the policy committee, which works to discover the best policies the Chamber and its President should advocate and push for, while keeping an eye on existing policies and their impacts.
“How do we evolve as an organization?” is one question Torres asks himself, as keeping up with local dynamics and policy changes are just one of the Chamber’s tasks.
An entrepreneur in the making
Torres’ parents came to North Philadelphia from Puerto Rico, where he would be born and raised in the city that would serve as the foundation of his life.
Not one to settle, in college Torres undertook a triple major in International Business, Risk Management & Insurance, and Finance at the Fox School of Business at Temple University, graduating magna cum laude.
Following his graduation, Torres gained employment with PPG Industries, a paint and coating manufacturer. His work with the company would take him far from his home in Philadelphia, ranging from neighboring city Pittsburgh, to a four-year posting in Brazil, where he worked as their Director of Latin American Business Development.
His time abroad gave Torres a new perspective on business and on the city of Philadelphia. When he returned, he wanted to contribute his knowledge to small businesses to help them grow, and so he turned to the best option he could find: the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
As Torres worked his way up through the ranks, becoming a member in 2013, to board member, to where he sits now as Chair.
Alongside his work within the chamber, Torres launched his own venture as a small business consultant through his company, called Myriagon, in 2017. The philosophy behind its name comes from a 10,000 sided polygon that is indistinguishable from a sphere, unless you have experience to recognize it for what it is.
“Myriagon started because of an identified need in the marketplace... that there's a lot of business owners, entrepreneurs, within the landscape that lack capacity; building capability,” Torres explained.
In order to support its members and the Hispanic business community across the city, the Chamber takes an active role in supporting and developing these businesses.
These include formal training for their businesses, to networking events so that they can connect with other entrepreneurs and Hispanic businesses, to conducting policy research to make Philadelphia as business friendly towards Hispanic businesses as possible.
An example Torres gave was Build Latino, a program done in Spanish that trains Latinos in the construction industry with the information they need in order to advance their business, such as official OSHA certification.
For the Chamber to better understand the issues their members face, they reach out to them through surveys and polls, gathering data for what the city’s businesses want to see changed.
“We pay attention to our member’s pain points, and we translate them into the best impact [or policy change] that we could advocate for,” Torres concluded.