The five founding members of the Maestro Entrepreneur Center each played a pivotal role in the establishment of the robust organization. Julissa Carielo, Willie Ng, Ramiro Cavazos, Chris Martinez, and Leslie Garcia each contributed their talents and skills to the conception of the center. As Maestro approaches its five year anniversary, it’s critical to acknowledge how these individuals created the framework and carried out a vision to make the Maestro Entrepreneur Center a reality. Their dedication to the mission has allowed the nonprofit to thrive many years later and have the ability to provide resources and tools for so many small and local businesses.
Ramiro Cavazos is a founding member of the Maestro Entrepreneur Center. Currently, Cavazos is the President and CEO of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce which represents 4.7 million Hispanic owned businesses. Prior to that, Cavazos served as President and CEO of the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (SAHCC) for a little over 10 years. It was in this position that Cavazos would work closely with Julissa Carielo and where his involvement with the Maestro Entrepreneur Center began. Carielo shared her vision to transform a vacant elementary school into an entrepreneurship center and Cavazos was on board.
“She felt that it could be repurposed as a place to support the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and make it a small business focused environment,” Cavazos said. “I loved the idea and so for about a year Julissa and I talked to our board of directors and we put the package in place.”
Cavazos and Carielo were able to commit to a five-year agreement in which the SAHCC and the Maestro Center would partner together. The two organizations would fundraise together, the SAHCC would fund and locate an employee at the Maestro Center, and also utilize the center to host meetings. According to Cavazos, it was Carielo’s vision that acted as the catalyst.
“I was very inspired by Julissa’s commitment to small business and so I was really just a partner for her,” he said. “It really was Julissa’s vision and her service on our board that made all the sense in the world to partner together to do that.”
The San Antonio community is heavily made up of small businesses who often times need access to resources and tools in order to succeed and Cavazos envisioned that the Maestro Center would be able to provide that.
“It was important to me because we weren’t doing enough to help small businesses in San Antonio,” he said. “I believe the Maestro Center is that place.”
Cavazos believes that Maestro has continued to be flexible during unexpected challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic all while maintaining supporters who remain committed to the mission
“I think it has great potential and I feel like the Maestro Center is really poised for tremendous growth,” he said. “Its’ best days are around the corner.”
As a founder for the Maestro Center, Cavazos has come to learn many things including the existence of entrepreneurs who are focused on giving back to others, like Julissa Carielo. In addition, Cavazos acknowledges the potential to replicate the model like the Maestro Center throughout the United States.
“That’s our commitment to Julissa and to the team at Maestro is that we spread the news about what’s working well,” he said. “I think it will reflect well on San Antonio and hopefully generate more resources for Maestro itself.”
Ultimately, Cavazos is proud of the impact that the Maestro Center has had on not only existing small businesses, but businesses who may not even exist yet.
“I think the foundation of Maestro is set and the beauty is that we’re going to be helping a lot of people that we haven’t even met,” he said.