On Business Women’s Day 2014 meet Anago’s Maria Martinez, who worked her way up the ladder to dominate the Orlando, FL market.

For Maria Manuela Martinez, the American dream she and her husband achieved more than 10 years ago involves not only owning her own business but also creating new entrepreneurs in the Orlando, Fla., market, where she is the master franchisee of Anago Cleaning Systems.

As the United States celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month Sept. 15-Oct. 15, Venezuela native Martinez exemplifies the opportunities possible for Latinos in franchise brands, as she started out cleaning office buildings and moved to her own corner office — and has sought to provide Hispanic entrepreneurs in Central Florida a similar path.

The number of Hispanic-owned businesses in the United States nearly doubled from 1.7 million in 2002 to 3.2 million in 2013, according to a report from the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. That report found last year that the growth rate of Latino businesses had grown an average of 7% per year from 2007 to 2013, which more than doubled the average 3% overall business growth rate.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Hispanics comprised 30.9% of total workers in the janitorial and cleaning services segment. Martinez added that the vast majority of the unit franchisees in her Orlando territory managing their accounts are Hispanic.

The United States will also recognize Business Women’s Day Sept. 22, and Martinez proudly considers her journey to business ownership to be a success story at the intersection of Hispanic Heritage Month and Business Women’s Day. She hopes to continue developing other female franchisees.

One of the unit franchisees working in Martinez’s Orlando territory, Cecilet Ortiz, credits the master franchisee with leading by example, climbing the ladder at Anago and showing others how they can add accounts and more cleaning staff to work for them.

“Anago has given me the opportunity to take control of my finances and my time and use my talents to get ahead,” said Ortiz, who began her Anago career like Martinez at the crew level and now has the highest revenue of any female franchisee in the Orlando market. “If we add the small detail that I am a Hispanic woman, many people might think there are fewer opportunities for me, but the growth of my business is a sum of my effort, dedication and commitment to Anago’s system.”

Martinez agreed, saying that systems common in franchises like hers not only lower the cost of entry into business but also enable faster growth along the track from hourly crew member to owner.

What has been the most gratifying part of being a master franchise owner?

Our current operations manager, my nephew Luis Silva, was very young when he came to work with us, but he has developed throughout the whole process. When we started as unit franchisees after coming here from Venezuela, we all started out cleaning, and then five years ago my husband and I acquired the master franchise rights. Luis developed alongside us, from the manual-labor side of the business to now having the responsibility to handle clients and people. This business is all about handling people, and it’s built on referral. That’s the most important growth I’ve seen from him.

As you tell your staff and franchisees your story, what can you impart about the opportunities with your company in your community?

Your business is exactly what you make of it, depending on what you want from the franchise. A lot of our unit franchisees start with a small package and grow into it. Most associates keep their dayjobs, and Anago starts out as an additional income for them. But then it can cascade into something bigger.

Our story was a little different. I have a communications degree and was working at one of the biggest advertising firms in Venezuela when we immigrated here, but we had to start over. We got the opportunity with Anago Orlando right as it was starting here, so they gave us the opportunity right away with two multitenant buildings.

How beneficial has it been to serve the Hispanic community and be able to recruit from it?

Most of our franchisees are family-owned businesses of husbands and wives or parents and children. We get a lot of referrals, because if the franchisees do well, they tell their friends and family. We target our marketing at moms looking to be business owners, and we have a niche there that’s good for them. During the day they take care of their families, and at night they go out and take care of business.

Name: Maria Manuela Martinez

Phone Number: 407-756-4092

Email: MariaManuelaM@anagoorlando.com