SOURCE: Ford Motor Company

July 28, 2005 07:03 ET

"The Swan's" Creator Nely Galán and Ford Unite for El Visionario Hispanic Entrepreneurial Contest

AOL® Latino Brings to Life Interactive Spanish Language Contest for Small Business Owners

DEARBORN, MI -- (MARKET WIRE) -- July 28, 2005 -- Ford Motor Company, in partnership with AOL Latino, continues its pioneering efforts to increase the success of Hispanic entrepreneurs with a groundbreaking online contest, El Visionario ("The Visionary"). Nely Galán, a successful Latina entrepreneur and creator of Fox-TV's "The Swan," will assist Ford in kicking off and judging the contest designed to find Hispanic entrepreneurs with visionary goals.

Entries for the innovative El Visionario contest may be submitted starting today on the AOL Latino-powered Ford Mi Negocio website, www.ford.com/go/minegocio, or at AOL® Keyword: El Visionario. The contest is searching to discover the next Hispanic business visionary, someone who embodies the entrepreneurial spirit and demonstrates that Hispanics are leaders in successful small business ownership. Contestants will compete in a series of single-round eliminations as they answer challenging questions about their businesses and future strategies for success. A grand prize valued at $100,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded, including an all-new 2006 Mercury Mountaineer.

"By sharing my business experience, both the obstacles and achievements, I hope to enrich the lives of many Latinos looking to succeed in life and achieve their dreams," said Nely Galán, founder and CEO of Galán Entertainment. "This online contest and website will undoubtedly empower the Hispanic community through education and information."

"The El Visionario online contest deepens our historic relationship with Hispanic entrepreneurs," said Armando Ojeda, director of Supplier Diversity Development, Ford Motor Company. "We are proud to help Hispanic entrepreneurs access the resources they need to succeed. El Visionario and Ford Mi Negocio are key components of our deep commitment to promoting economic success in the Hispanic community. We are honored to have Nely Galán as a member of our Panel of Advisors for Ford Mi Negocio this year."

"At AOL Latino we strive to meet the needs of the growing Hispanic online audience, and we're proud to partner again this year with a leader like Ford to launch a great online business contest to benefit the entrepreneurial community," said Mark López, publisher for AOL Latino.

Hispanic businesses are growing at an incredible rate. Today, there are over 2 million Hispanic businesses in the U.S. About 42 percent of all minority businesses are Hispanic-owned, which is more than any other minority group. Ranks of Hispanic entrepreneurship have jumped 30 percent since 1998, and one out of 10 small businesses will be Hispanic-owned by 2007.* According to the 2005 AOL Latino/Roper Hispanic Cyberstudy, 63 percent of online Hispanics, ages 18-34, want to own their own business.

El Visionario Online Contest

Participants of El Visionario contest must be Hispanic small business owners with at least 51 percent ownership, 18 years of age or older, legal residents of the contiguous 48 United States or Washington, DC and fluent in Spanish. Submissions to the contest need to be completed in Spanish and can be submitted electronically or downloaded and sent via U.S. mail.

The top 50 applicants selected to participate in the El Visionario online contest will receive prizes such as the AOL® Optimized PC® computer and AOL Latino membership for one year. The grand prize winner will receive $25,000 cash award towards his/her small business, a brand new 2006 Mercury Mountaineer, $25,000 in business services (legal, finance, marketing) and a business profile in Hispanic Business and Hispanic Magazine, for a total estimated value of $100,000. Online voters will also be eligible to win prizes such as digital cameras, subscriptions to business magazines and gift cards.

Ford's El Visionario Judges and Panel of Advisors

The El Visionario Panel of Advisors is an interactive symposium focusing on educating Hispanic entrepreneurs on the basic fundamentals of entrepreneurship and business success. The panelists also serve as judges for the contest.

The key goal of the panel is to make the Ford Mi Negocio Internet web hub the first Hispanic entrepreneurial vehicle to offer a combination of unmatched online services and community outreach and will make the El Visionario contest come alive in front of an audience. The symposium will occur the week of October 10th, 2005 in Miami when Ford announces the five finalists for El Visionario.

Members of the panel include Nely Galán, founder and CEO, Galán Entertainment; Richard Bull, Vice President, EMI Latino; Sam Verdeja, CEO and Publisher, Hispanic Publishing Associates; Roberto Madrazo, Senior Group Manager of Marketing and Special Projects, Target; Grace Villamayor, Director of Sales and Marketing for Latin America, Mexico & Caribbean, Hertz International, LTD; Xavier Serbia, Financial Analyst and Founder, Xavier Serbia Multimedia; Irma Elder, CEO, Elder Automotive Group.

2005 Enhanced Ford Mi Negocio Entrepreneur Web Hub

Ford Mi Negocio, in partnership with AOL Latino, is celebrating its one-year anniversary with a newly enhanced design and content to continue providing Hispanic entrepreneurs with the best online business information, resources and connections needed to start or grow their own business.

Ford Mi Negocio is located at www.ford.com/go/minegocio or AOL Keyword: Mi Negocio and is composed of four key sections:

   1. Financial and Business articles provided by Fortune Magazine, Time
      Warner, Inc., Business 2.0 and Fortune Small Business.  These
      publications are providing relevant articles in Spanish exclusively
      at Ford Mi Negocio to be archived on the new hub.

   2. Business Tools section, which provides information on the subjects of
      entrepreneurial development, sales and marketing, money and finance,
      and offers links to "Descubre Cómo" (discover how) and "Centro de
      Recursos" (resource center) sections.

   3. AOL Latino Interactive Community that features message boards and the
      Ford Mi Negocio Panel of Advisors, an additional benefit for AOL
      Latino members.

   4. Ford: "Making Dreams a Reality" provides information about Ford's
      commitment to the community, current programs and success stories
      with video enhancement capabilities.
About Nely Galán

Nely Galán is the creator, executive producer and life coach of Fox's "The Swan." Regarded as one of the entertainment industry's most dynamic and successful executives, her career has run the gamut from president of entertainment for the Telemundo Network to launching ten channels in Latin America for Fox, MGM, ESPN, Sony and HBO, where she was a creative executive. She is the founder and CEO of Galán Entertainment, her own production company, that has produced over five hundred television episodes for the United States and Latin America, including her latest hit, "The Swan."

About Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures and distributes automobiles in 200 markets across six continents. With nearly 325,000 employees and 110 plants worldwide, the company's core and affiliated automotive brands include Aston Martin, Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lincoln, Mazda, Mercury and Volvo. Its automotive-related services include Ford Motor Credit Company and Hertz. For more information regarding Ford's products, please visit www.fordvehicles.com.

About AOL® Latino

AOL Latino, the leading Internet service provider for U.S. Hispanics, offers comprehensive Spanish product features and content including U.S. and Latin American news, the latest in music, entertainment and sports, as well as access to all the existing English language content available on the AOL service for no extra cost.

Sources: *SBA Minority Owned Business Report 2002.

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