Since 2002, California Capital’s Bilingual Business Success Forums have been designed to
meet the business development, capacity building and education needs of the growing
numbers of immigrant, refugee and limited/non-English proficient business owners, a majority
who reside and/or have businesses in low wealth neighborhoods. Forums are offered in nine
languages: Chinese, Vietnamese, Hmong, Mien, Russian, Spanish, Hindi, Punjabi and
Language and cultural barriers were obstacles that California Capital encountered when we
began our work with limited and non-English speaking communities ten years ago. Research
shows that due to language, education and cultural barriers, as well as an increasingly
complex financial market, many people in the U.S. lack basic financial knowledge. Through
our ethnic studies research, we have identified and embraced the need for delivering financial
education, business development programs and technical assistance in our clients’ native
languages and in a culturally competent manner have proven to be a key to success. In order
for us to effectively serve this segment of high need micro-entrepreneurs, California Capital
has invested in research and training for our staff to insure that cultural competency is fully
integrated into our programs for immigrant and refugee entrepreneurs.
California Capital takes special care to provide programs in churches, community centers,
restaurants, and community based organizations that are located in “their own” communities.
We have worked hard to develop close and trusting relationships with community leaders,
churches and community based organizations and we have become very successful in our
efforts to reach, and offer our programs within those communities.
There are five essential elements that contribute to a system’s ability to become more culturally
competent. The system should (1) value diversity, (2) have the capacity for cultural self–
assessment, (3) be conscious of the “dynamics” inherent when cultures interact, (4)
institutionalize cultural knowledge, and (5) develop adaptations to service delivery reflecting an
understanding of diversity between and within cultures. Further, these five elements must be
manifested in every level of the service delivery system. They should be reflected in attitudes,
structures, policies, and services.