Selene Zamorano is making an impact in her community by helping Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs navigate the challenges and complexities of running their own businesses.
Between her company, Zamorano Business Management (ZBM), a nonprofit organization that she founded called Women of Faith, and her commitment to civic engagement, she works tirelessly to meet the needs of the Hispanic community in Sioux Falls.
ZBM is a consulting business focused primarily on Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs in the construction industry. Zamorano walks her clients through the basics of opening a business, highlighting areas specific to construction such as continued education and training, licensing, permits, and applicable state regulations and laws. Business consultation is a free service offered by ZBM, but entrepreneurs can also hire the company to manage services like bookkeeping, audits and payroll.
In addition to Zamorano, the company includes four other team members—an accountant, a safety manager, an insurance expert, and another consultant. Zamorano also stays on top of resources and connections within the community and can direct clients to a variety of local Spanish-speaking service providers, depending on their needs.
By demystifying some of the more complex aspects of business ownership, Zamorano hopes to help people create sustainable businesses that allow them to support their families and build a rewarding life in Sioux Falls.
“Sadly because many of them don’t know where to start with business, they start taking jobs in different states, leaving their homes and families, and they’re lucky to be back on the weekends,” she said.
“I’m Latino, and I would like to see our people succeeding. We’re such hard workers, but sometimes we just need a push. I want to lift their spirits up to see that there’s so much they can do in South Dakota without leaving their family."
ZBM tackles specific challenges to create a path for success
According to Zamorano, her business concept is unique to the area, but the need for her services is great.
Having lived in Sioux Falls for over 20 years, she knows the community well. She also has firsthand knowledge of the unique challenges that Hispanic entrepreneurs face, having previously worked for a family-owned construction company. Of those challenges, Zamorano sees the language barrier as the most critical.
It’s an issue Zamorano has been heavily involved in, even outside of ZBM. She was a strong advocate for the passage of South Dakota Senate Bill 70 (SB70) in 2020, which made driver’s license applications and preparation materials available and accepted in Spanish.
“I’m very involved in the Hispanic community with civic engagement, helping them understand that when you come here, there are some rules and laws that you have to abide by, you have to get a driver’s license in order to drive, you need car insurance, your kids have to go to school, and even though you’re away from home, please feel welcome here and make this place feel like home. Send your kids to college, open up your businesses, feel at home,” she said.
In addition to her civic involvement, Zamorano attended school for business management and has worked as an interpreter for numerous local companies and organizations. She also operates a Facebook page called Noticias Dakota Del Sur, where she translates articles from news sources in South Dakota into Spanish. These experiences have given her both the perspective and tools necessary to help Latino entrepreneurs find success.
“They’re good at working with their hands, they have the skills and want to succeed, but sometimes they just don’t know where to start,” she said.
Zamorano estimates that about half of her clients are in that early stage, where they have a desire to run their own business but find themselves overwhelmed by the process. The other half have already begun, but may have found themselves in trouble with taxes and licensing or staying up to date on safety practices and training.
One of Zamorano’s most significant goals for her business is to make her services well-known and accessible in the community in order to soothe, or altogether avoid, those messy situations.
“My main question for people is always, ‘Why did you wait so long to get help?’ and they usually say, ‘Because we didn’t know you were here,’” she said.
Zamorano also hopes to be able to offer more opportunities in the future, such as hosting conferences or company-specific workshops for Latino entrepreneurs and focusing on the younger, incoming workforce by assisting with preparation and funding for schooling.
“They are our future, and the state of South Dakota and our city rely a lot on construction, especially right now with workforce and housing needs. You put one and one together, and most of the construction people are Latinos, so if we start focusing on the young population of workers to try to get them certified, it would be a very successful thing.”
How to work with ZBM
Entrepreneurs can reach out to Zamorano for free consultations, regardless of where they’re at in their business journey. While her focus is on Spanish-speaking business owners in the construction industry, she is happy to assist other Hispanic entrepreneurs in their ventures and direct them to relevant resources.
In addition to consulting directly with entrepreneurs, ZBM is also available to assist construction companies who regularly subcontract Latino workers. The most common service for these companies is translation and interpreting, but Zamorano also dreams of developing additional services that would help companies accommodate their Latino subcontractors in other areas.