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Small Business | Heard on the Beat

Cyberspace Reaching Out to Latinas

May 03, 2000

Cyberspace is churning out new offerings that cater to Latinas, from business and financial news to health and beauty.

Like general-market sites, Latino-oriented Web sites and portals are cropping up to cater to narrower demographics. Top among them in recent months: women.

Latinas are forming businesses at faster rates than any other group and are also heavy consumers of health and beauty products, driving much of the new growth.

Among the new sites are bilingual EVIVA.net (http://www.EVIVA.net), launched by Aliza Sherman, who in 1995 founded Cybergrrl Inc., the first woman-owned marketing and online publishing company.

Sherman also created FEMINA.com, (http://www.femina .com) the first searchable directory of women's sites, and Webgrrls International (http://www.WEBGRRLS.com), a global real-world Internet networking group for women, who meet in the flesh to discuss online career opportunities.

She turned her attention to the Latina market to combine her passion for women's causes with her own roots. Her mother was from Mexico and Sherman spent her early childhood in Spain. She also had a deep bond with her Mexican grandmother, who died four years ago. A trip to Buenos Aires last fall also firmed her resolve.

Sherman launched the site this year with co-founder Amy Ormond as part homage to her grandmother and a belief that Latina professionals--particularly entrepreneurs--were not being served.

"The real focus is putting business and professional tools into the hands of Latinas and explaining how they can get ahead, inspiring them by telling them stories of others' success," said Sherman, 32, of New York.

The company, which is closing its seed round of financing, will have some health and lifestyle content but will focus primarily on business and careers.

"There's no beauty, no makeup, no relationships, no horoscope," she said. "We're publicizing it to professionals."

For the other offerings, however, Web surfers need not look far.

Spanish-language portalYupi.com has launched MujerFutura (Future Woman), at http:// www.MujerFutura.com to target three generations of contemporary Spanish-speaking women with channels on healthy living, home, beauty, fashion, weddings, family, relationships and cooking. Forums, chats, e-mail and e-commerce are also featured. Yupi, which is based in Florida, has offices in Los Angeles, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico and Spain.

Also launching in recent months: New York-based SoloElla.com (Only Her) at

http://www.soloella.com, which is forging partnerships with Latino community groups in the United States to get its message out. The site aims to "inform, entertain and embrace" Latinas by providing editorial content, online shopping, interactive chats and other targeted features, from fashion and beauty to finance, careers and entertainment.

Community partnerships have been forged with the National Council of La Raza, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the national Latina organization Mana, Hispanas Organized for Political Equality and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, among others.

Others in the fray vying for the eyeballs of Latinas here and around the globe: New York-based HolaMujer; CadaMujer, a Mexican-based joint venture between L'Oreal and portal StarMedia; and YFemninia, which focuses on Latin America and launched in Brazil.

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