Upcoming conference aims to connect Hispanic women with necessary resources in region

Published 12:38 am Wednesday, May 3, 2023

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It was while attending the Better Business Bureau’s Professional Women’s Conference last year that Erika Banda Meza and other members of the Hispanic Business Association of Southeast Texas had a thought that could change the lives of many women in the region.

“We have to bring that to our Spanish speakers, where they can feel comfortable, learn and network with other women who can help them with any skills they need help with,” Banda Meza recalled.

As a result, on May 12 from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., the HBA is hosting its inaugural Women’s Conference.

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“Our target audience is the Spanish-speaking woman,” Banda Meza said. “They can be in any industry. They can be stay-at-home moms, students. We just want all women. All of our topics are catered to women, not just business.”

However, women regardless of their primary language are encouraged to attend, said Zulema Escobedo.

“We help everybody,” said Escobedo, who will speak at the conference regarding networking. “We help any race, females, males, any demographic. This is made specifically for Hispanics because it’s an entity they can trust.”

Pictured are Hispanic Business Association President Raquel Ochoa, left, and Executive Director Erika Banda Meza. (Monique Batson/The News)

Escobedo said many of the presenters are bi-lingual and can help interpret information for those in need.

In addition to networking, topics include work-life balance; mental, emotional, spiritual and physical wellness; personal finances; public speaking; immigration for women in special circumstances; women in leadership and workforce preparation.

“My sister and I own a multi-service agency, so anything they need, they come to us,” Banda Meza said. “It’s good to have all of those resources, and that’s how we decided to put these topics together, because that’s the feedback we’ve been getting from people.”

Speakers, she said, are either Hispanic Business Association members or previous speakers that are engrained with the organization.

“We’re just coming in and presenting that there’s other choices for people who have other goals and paths they want to take,” Escobedo said. “That’s the purpose of this, and I’m excited. Part of my family stays home and, talking to them, I say, ‘I really, really respect y’all because that’s hard.’ But a lot of people have a different dream as well. We just want to open up the doors to say, ‘no one’s dream is wrong.’ We want to help you and guide you to get there.”

Tickets can be purchased for $25 at the HBA office, 734 N. Memorial Freeway, Nederland or on EventBrite.com. Lunch is included, as is childcare.

The event, sponsored by Port Arthur LNG, takes place at Ecclesia, 5900 9th Avenue in Port Arthur.

The HBA of Southeast Texas

What originally formed more than five years ago as a part of Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce branched out in late 2022 to become an individual non-profit that serves all of Southeast Texas. Banda Meza said the association is open to anyone, not just the Hispanic community.

In less than a year, the group has grown to more than 80 members.

For more information, call 409-293-6839 or email info@hbasetx.com.