When political strife drove Carlos Devis and his family from his native Colombia five years ago, he left behind a career as a lawyer for the role of an outsider. As he built a new life in Potomac, he found many other foreign-born Latinos in the area struggling to make it in their new country.
Many of them were working hard but were unhappy, Devis said.
Immigrating "is a very emotionally distressing situation, and nobody tells you how to work through that," Devis said. "You feel that you don't have value, and then people just start working. They don't educate themselves. They are not involved in their children's schools. They have three jobs."
He turned that understanding into a company called Bosa Systems that is dedicated to inspiring Latino immigrants and Latino Americans. His District-based company runs a Web site (www.clubpositivo.com), sells Spanish-language compact discs and sends out weekly e-mails to more than 280,000 people. The Web site includes stories of hope, such as one about a boy with an alcoholic father who overcame odds to achieve success, and offers philosophical classics, including Kahlil Gibran's "The Prophet," translated into Spanish. The site is decorated with happy faces and its slogan is "En ti no hay limites " -- "You have no limits."
Last year, Devis sold about 10,000 CDs for about $15 each.
This month, Devis won a national online competition of Hispanic business owners called "El Visionario," or the Visionary, sponsored by AOL Latino and Ford Motor Co. Devis won a Mercury Mountaineer, $25,000 in cash and $25,000 in legal and marketing services.
He said he plans to use the money to build his company and "remind more Latinos to dream big."
-- Krissah Williams