Philadelphia is lucky to have many immigrant-run businesses, but the COVID-19 pandemic caused significant disruptions. A group of business owners banded together to help the businesses in South Philadelphia survive.
The Association of Mexican Business Owners of Philadelphia is a group of immigrant merchants whose mission is to support Mexican businesses to acquire tools, skills, and representation and promote continued economic development within the community and the city of Philadelphia. Although the Association has existed in a loose capacity for nearly twenty years, it was consolidated and reformed into its current form around the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Through a GoFundMe campaign, The Association raised money from the community to help local Mexican businesses endure the trials of the pandemic.
Members of the Association of Mexican Business Owners of Philadelphia includes (L-R): Nicole Marcote (The Welcoming Center), Felipa Ventura (Taqueria Morales), Brenda Mendez (B&J Estampados y Más), Juan Carlos Romero (Philly Tacos), Javier Ríos (Mole Poblano), Édgar Ramírez (Philatinos), Andres Hernandez (Adelita)
The Association’s current president is Juan Carlos Romero, owner of Philly Tacos. He says:
“As immigrants, we have a lot of barriers and limitations from being in a new country. We realized that we needed to get organized to make our lives easier in a country where everything was new for us.”
“We had the idea of creating an association because doing [the work] separately was more complicated; we were wasting time and we were wasting money. So the solution was to start working together…to start working together in an organized way.”
Echoing Juan Carlos, Édgar Ramirez of Philatinos Radio spoke about the impact of immigrant businesses on Philadelphia and how they intend to grow the influence of the Association:
“One of our plans is to incorporate all Latin and Mexican business owners, not only in South Philadelphia but across the city.”
Édgar explains that the collective experience of the Association’s members can support all businesses within the city. They want immigrants to know that they are not alone and appreciated.
Felipa Ventura, the owner of Taqueria Morales, says:
“The immigrant’s role is important. We see how the Mexican community supports the economy in Philadelphia and every other city in the United States. American history has been a society of immigrants. Now, it is the Mexican community, and all Hispanic people, [who are] the ones starting new businesses. They have had a positive impact on 9th Street.”
At Solas 2022, The Welcoming Center will be honoring three Philadelphia organizations working to improve the lives of immigrants across the region. All three have made a tremendous impact, and Philadelphia is a better place to live because of them.
While there are many businesses and individuals associated with the Association, we would like to recognize those who spoke with The Welcoming Center for this interview:
Andres Hernandez of Adelita
Brenda Mendez of B&J Estampados y Más
Édgar Ramirez of Philatinos Radio
Felipa Ventura of Taqueria Morales
Javier Ríos of Mole Poblano
Juan Carlos Romero of Philly Tacos