McNair/Gateway Scholars Program USC

Leticia Franco

Major and Classification

Business Administration

Faculty Mentors

  • Professor Roberto Lint Sagarena

Department

  • Sociology

McNair Project

"Oaxacan Immigrant Entrepreneurs in Los Angeles: An Ethnographic Study of Zapotec Restaurant Owners"

This study compares Oaxacan immigrant entrepreneurs in Los Angeles to other immigrant ethnic minority entrepreneurs in an effort to explain the factors/experiences that have led these individuals to become self-employed entrepreneurs. Although these immigrant groups faced similar challenges in the U.S., Oaxacan restaurant owners are impacted/influenced by different factors and circumstances that provide an understanding of how they successfully start and sustain businesses. This ethnographic study examines Oaxacan entrepreneurs in Los Angeles with varying levels of business-management experience, socio-economic success, and business growth. Through use of qualitative methods, primarily semi-structured open-ended questions, information about Oaxacan restaurant business owners in Los Angeles will be gathered and analyzed over a six-month period. It is expected that the findings reveal explanations about how this ethnic minority group overcomes various difficulties that come with being an immigrant, and manages to start and sustain a business in the competitive food/service industry. Among the difficulties expected to prevail are language barriers, legal status issues, access to starting capital, etc. The 'cultural capital' and 'social capital' of these entrepreneurs is a primary focus in this study.