5 Questions with Arturo Noriega, CEO of Centro Community Partners

Jan 18, 2022

Arturo Noriega has more than 20 years of work experience as a management consultant, specializing in economic development, strategy, governance, risk management, finance, and organizational change management. He has earned an MBA in Strategic Management and Leadership from Peter F. Drucker School of Management at Claremont Graduate University and a BA in Economics as well as a concentration in Finance from Haas School of Business of U.C Berkeley.

01. Give us the elevator pitch for Centro Community Partners.

Our programs and services have been specifically designed for low-income BIPOC and women entrepreneurs to help them overcome structural racism and have equal access to economic opportunity and upward mobility.

As we scale globally, we offer a proven model to expand access for BIPOC and women that want to pursue entrepreneurship as a pathway towards building self-sustainability and generational wealth, creating a systemic change to promote small business development ecosystems that provide equal access to entrepreneurship education, working capital, and business support services, regardless of sex or race.

02. How does Centro create a more diverse and inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem?

Centro creates an inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem, promoting economic opportunity by offering on-demand technical assistance programs and services, for low-income BIPOC and women entrepreneurs. Our mission embodies our commitment to racial justice and intentionally identifies racial equity as a clear goal in our work. Thus, our commitment to diversity is embedded in all areas of our organization.

03. How will support from the Techstars Foundation and the Techstars network further the mission of your organization?

Centro is part of a national movement that builds equity and social justice helping underserved entrepreneurs. As a tech-based nonprofit, we address the barriers head-on to scale solutions to help millions of BIPOC and women entrepreneurs. We know the Techstars Foundation and the Techstars network to help us scale our work in different geographies and connect us with organizations and entrepreneurial networks supporting women and BIPOC entrepreneurs.

04. How did you come to do this work and why is it important to you personally?

My leadership and insights come from the early experiences I had growing up in Santa Clara, California. I saw that my parents, who immigrated to Santa Clara from Peru in the mid-1960s, were skilled leather tailors in Peru and wanted to start their own small business in the US, producing leather handbags and jackets. Unfortunately, they were unable to start their small business due to the lack of access to capital and business advisory support. Instead, they found work as laborers - my dad took a job as a janitor at technology companies and my mother started cleaning houses.

At the time, I was too young to understand why they were denied access but this experience stayed with me and raised my awareness of how wide the racial equity gap is for minorities and women immigrant entrepreneurs. To better understand this socioeconomic issue at a deeper level and examine a way to solve it, I studied economics and finance at UC Berkeley and earned my BA degree. Then I earned my MBA from the Peter F. Drucker School of Management. After graduation, I went to work as a consultant in risk strategy and economic development for several global consultancies. I also became a senior advisor to the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and conducted several missions to Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East, leading teams and major economic development projects.

I used these life experiences and my business expertise to build innovative solutions that address the racial and gender inequity gaps and help immigrant entrepreneurs, like my parents, connect to the resources they need to start their businesses. It’s a proven path to establish financial stability and create general wealth for families.

05. Share a success story.

An immigrant from Mexico City raising three children, Adela was no stranger to putting in long hours to make ends meet. Regardless of her struggles and lack of business knowledge, she dared to dream of starting her own business.

Adela connected with Centro, where she found support and created a business plan with constant guidance from an MBA Advisor to follow through with her plan. Centro’s team and volunteer business advisors understood the circumstances under which she had worked to achieve her dream and worked and supported her closely to create a successful business.

She opened Adela’s World of the Children - a licensed childcare center offering daycare and pre-kindergarten facilities to families in El Cerrito, Berkeley, and Oakland. Adela puts in all her love for the children in her care, who receive a balance of play and learning that is informed by her ongoing child education coursework at Berkeley City College and her enrollment in California’s First5 Program. Undoubtedly, the business has been a success. It not only prepares the students of World of the Children for their futures, but it has also helped Adela send her children to college. More than anything, it has brought joy and meaning to her life, and those around her.

During the pandemic, Adela worked with the Centro Capital Hub and ran a successful Kiva campaign to acquire $8,500 in interest-free capital to support her business. We are proud of Adela and will continue to support her in her entrepreneurial journey!

Centro Community Partners is a participant in the Accelerate Equity program of the Techstars Foundation in 2022.

Donate now and advance equity through entrepreneurship with the Techstars Foundation.