Building Businesses and Partnerships*

 

Michel Zajur CEO and Founder of Virginia Hispanic Chambers of Commerce

Midloathian, Va.- Michel Zajur’s passion to help Hispanics motivated him to create the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. He wanted to teach Hispanics how to create a business, to learn and understand the American culture and give them better opportunities.

Initially, Zajur worked at La Siesta, his family’s restaurant. La Siesta closed on Jan. 3, 2009 after serving the community for over 30 years. La Siesta was located in Chesterfield County at 9900 Midlothian Turnpike. His family was one of the pioneer families who introduced Mexican food to the Richmond area. This restaurant became a meeting or gathering place for Hispanics.

Many Hispanics came to the restaurant to seek advice on businesses and to collect information. It became a hub for Hispanics.

“One day someone came into the restaurant and said, you are basically a chamber of commerce, you should just start one,” said Michel Zajur CEO and Founder of VAHCC.

Zajur wanted the chamber to be a stepping stone that will lend a helping hand to people. He solicited support from surrounding businesses, civic leaders and donations to get the chamber started. The VAHCC focuses on partnering with county and federal agencies like the small business administration. The chamber is now a powerful state wide organization with more than 400 members.

Recently the VAHCC hired Rita Willis as a consultant. She oversees membership and events. Willis educates Hispanics on available programs and opportunities. In addition she also helps Hispanics to adjust to their new surroundings. “I want to be a part of the solution and not the problem,” said consultant Rita Willis.

The VAHCC is the link that connects the Hispanic community to the community at-large. “I have yet to hear Michel Zajur turn anyone down who needs help,” said Cindy Ceja manager of Don Pedro Mexican restaurant located in Richmond.

The VHACC also provide seminars to assist Hispanic owned businesses. These seminars offer advice on how to take advantage of resources such as the internet and networking. Hispanics are able to build bilingual websites and network with other businesses.

In addition, the Chamber helps people who are looking for employment find jobs by sponsoring job fairs. They invite businesses who want to have a diverse workforce. “I am proud to say that I was hired after attending a job fair held by the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The owner of Colonial Webb contacted me the very next day regarding a position with his company,” said heating ventilation and air condition technician Don Mosley.

Michel Zajur and the VAHCC is a legacy. This organization has made a great contribution to the state of Virginia as well as to the country. The VAHCC is the connection that works to unite America with the Hispanic community.

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