PORTLAND, ORE. — Brazi Bites has launched its Latino Entrepreneurship Accelerator Program to help Latino-owned small businesses grow.

Junea Rocha, chief marketing officer at Brazi Bites, co-founded the Latin-inspired, better-for-you frozen food maker after she emigrated from Brazil.

“As a Latina founder, I know firsthand the challenges this community faces when it comes to getting a business off the ground, and our Accelerator Program is a step to support the incredible contributions that Latino business owners make in the US,” Ms. Rocha said.

One of the fastest growing small business populations, the number of Hispanic-owned businesses has increased 34% over the last 10 years, according to a 2021 Stanford Business study.

However, the same research showed Hispanic owners continue to face unique difficulties in critical areas, particularly funding. Compared to similarly performing white-owned businesses, Hispanic owners were 60% less likely to have a loan approved by a national bank.

As a result, Brazi Bites’ program will award a $10,000 grant to one applicant, in addition to a 12-week mentorship with Ms. Rocha. Three other finalists will receive a profile feature on the company’s website and social media.

“This minority community is critical to the fabric of our culture and economy, and this program is intended to give entrepreneurs tailored support at the most critical time,” Ms. Rocha said.

Founded in 2010, Brazi Bites began as a maker of Brazilian-style cheese bread inspired by Pão de Queijo. The company’s product line has since expanded to include a variety of pizza bites, empanadas and breakfast sandwiches, all of which are clean label and naturally gluten-free.

Brazi Bites gained national attention in 2015 after the brand appeared on Shark Tank and partnered with Lori Greiner. San Francisco Equity Partners acquired a majority stake in the company three years later.