Rhode Island Hispanic Chamber and the Rhode Island Israel Collaborative (RIIC) Celebrated Completion of the Latino Biz Web Design Pilot Project
Written by Michael Schemaille
Photography courtesy of Edgar Moya
From left to right, Avi Nevel Founder & CEO of the Rhode Island Israel Collaborative (RIIC) , Governor Dan McKee, 2nd place winner, Jerusalem Castro, Israel Consul General to New England Ambassador Meron Reuben, Oscar Meijas, CEO of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (RIHCC)
On April 29th with Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee and Israel Consul General to New England Ambassador Meron Reuben in attendance, the Rhode Island-Israel Collaborative (RIIC) and the Rhode Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (RIHCC) announced the winners of their inaugural RI Latino Biz Web Design Project, which partnered Hispanic college students to create web presence of local, Hispanic-owned small businesses. The event took place at the Marriott Hotel in Providence, RI and was also broadcast live on Facebook.
The event was MC’d by the project manager, Martha Perez-Barton.
In the first stage of the project, selected students from Providence College, Rhode Island College, and Salve Regina University were taught how to build websites using Israeli company Wix’ web development platform, using services donated by Clickto, a Tel Aviv-based tech startup specializing in virtual classroom and program management software.
RIIC CEO Avi Nevel explained, “The Israeli Consulate was an instrumental part of this project, as they connected us with Wix, and provided most of our funding. They were with us from the beginning, along with [then-Rhode Island Lieutenant Governor] Dan McKee, whose International Economic Ambassadors Initiative let us show those companies the incredible benefits of doing business in Rhode Island.”
The next stage of the project paired students with local businesses in need of increased online visibility, to design websites that reflected those clients’ needs and identities. Hosting for these sites was provided by Wix, also based in Tel Aviv. Wix provided each participating business with a free, one-year business premium plan and access to additional online resources.
Regarding the Rhode Island-Israel connection, Nevel said, “It was an honor to initiate collaboration between our partners in Israel and Rhode Island, particularly for the benefit of Rhode Island’s Hispanic community. This was a collective effort. Small businesses are the heart of this state. If we don’t give and help each other, we go nowhere. A special thanks to the organizing committee."
The sentiment was echoed by RIHCC President Oscar Mejias, who said, “It’s a beautiful part of this project, because we have two communities that really need each other – the student community and the small business community. I feel like we are taking the first big step, creating that connection.”
The students’ completed work was evaluated by a six-person judging committee that included members of Rhode Island’s business community, representative Assaf Kindler VP of Business Development & Partnerships at Wix.com, Clickto and Attorney Miriam Ross, who is a board member of the RIIC who was the chair of the Judging Committee. The sites were judged on several criteria, including content, design, and bilingual accessibility. Prize money was provided by the Israel Consulate General of Israel to New England, in the amounts of $1,000, $500, and $250.
All of the winners were students at Providence College. The top prize went to Andrés Castillo Lares, for his work with Rhode Island Security Services. In second place was Jerusalem Castro, for her work with La 70 Bar and Grill. Third place went to Jazmin Diaz and Nayely Furcal, for their work with New York Style Beauty Salon.
Israel Consul General to New England Meron Reuben remarked at the award ceremony, “We see this project as the first part of something a lot bigger. We hope that this will be a model that we will be able to take around New England and other communities. We will do our utmost to make sure that this continues.”
Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee remarked, “Our students are so important to our state, but we have to engage them in a productive and instructive way, and this project does just that.” McKee praised Nevel and Mejias’ work on the project, citing their leadership and tenacity, and closed by saying, “I’ve always believed that the best way to solve a problem is by bringing people together, and that’s exactly what this project did.”
To learn more about the project go to this link
RI Latino Biz Web Design Project and a link was
created especially for this project by Veronica Baron, one of the project committee members.
See the full recording of the event below
Photo Gallery from the Event
Photos of the event courtesy Edgar Moya