Owner of Santa Rosa's Soluna Outreach Solutions wins North Bay Latino business leadership award
Current economic challenges will only help him and his company grow, says Hugo Mata of Soluna Outreach Solutions, a 2020 winner of the Business Journal’s Latino Business Leadership Awards.
Professional background: C2 Alternative Services, director of Media and Community Outreach; Soluna Outreach Solutions, principal/owner; Red Latin-X Hub, chief of operations
Education: Santa Rosa Junior College (associate of science and associate of arts degrees), San Francisco State University (bachelor’s degree, radio and television), Leadership Institute for Ecology & the Economy (program) and Leadership Rohnert Park (program)
Tell us your story and that of your organization: I have been a resident of Sonoma County for over 30 years and originally I am from the state of Jalisco, Mexico, before I immigrated to California.
Being bilingual and bicultural provides a great asset when communicating with the Latino community and living in California and United States.
I established Soluna Outreach Solutions in 2017, a bilingual environmental consulting business to expand education and outreach across the Spanish-speaking community, with a primary focus on conservation, sanitation and health.
Before creating Soluna Outreach Solutions, I worked for 15 years with C2 Alternative Services, a regional leader in environmental consultation to municipal agencies.
Soluna Outreach Solutions now supports LatinX communities and LatinX-serving companies in 20 counties.
While building my own business, I helped launch a Facebook Live series, “Poder de Saber” (the Power of Knowledge), “providing technical support to LatinX-owned small businesses. The series now has a more than 2,000 followers and a live broadcast three days a week, expanding the topics to include community, environment, local economy, education and continues to grow and expand to different topics and areas.
Is there a major accomplishment in the past year or so that you would like to share?
In the past few months, I collaborated with other Latino community leaders to form LatinX and create Red LatinX Hub, a physical space which provides resources such as conference rooms for meetings, short-term office space, guidance in business practices, voting information, environmental programs, referrals to health services, and much more.
As a start-up, incubated in the Hub, my partners Mariana Gomez Almaraz, Hector Velazquez and I have developed LatinX Radio, an internet radio station now broadcasting to the community, and with the ultimate goal of replicating this in other counties creating a network of resources and direct communication to Latino communities.
What is the achievement you are most proud of?
The creation of my company Soluna Outreach Solutions and the work we do to keep our environment healthy, safe and clean.
What is your biggest challenge today?
There will always be challenges; which play a huge part in the overall success I have had. The biggest challenge has yet to come as we have seen this past year and continue to see with many changes and challenges to be prepared for what may come next.
What are you most proud of regarding the achievements of the area Latino business community and what are the greatest challenges faced by that community?
I have been conducting outreach to the Latin-X community for more than 20 years in various capacities and have seen a tremendous increase in Latino Leaders involvement in the community. Seeing this collaboration and continuous work to empower not only the Latino Community, but the community at large is very powerful and something to be proud of.
The Latino community faces many challenges starting with the negative perception that Latinos are here undocumented and taking jobs from American citizens, they do not care about the environment, they do not pay taxes etc.…the list goes on.
Unfortunately, in many cases this perception has been nurtured and augmented by the media and even by some politicians.
Other challenges include the lack of diversity representation in local government positions and other local organizations. Although Latinos represent the largest minority group in Sonoma County, it is the most disproportionately impacted by the lack of affordable housing, access to health care and access to information.
Words that best describe you: Dependable, determined, happy, compassionate, strong, respectful, and fun.
As a successful professional, what were the biggest obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them?
The biggest obstacle I have had to overcome is navigating the educational system. There were instances in which people that were there to guide you, instead discouraged me from pursing a higher education.