The new executive director for EGBI, Larissa Davila, has found her passion at the intersection of business and community.
By Tess Harmon, Photos courtesy of Larissa Davila
Larissa Davila originally saw herself working in the corporate world, but her passion for volunteerism and community building has led her on an eight-year journey to her recent appointment as the executive director of Economic Growth Business Incubator (EGBI). Founded in 2011, EGBI is a nonprofit business support organization serving Central Texas that offers burgeoning and veteran business owners alike practical training and coaching to help their businesses grow. Offering training on everything from creating a business plan and business management, workshops and one-on-one coaching, EGBI has generated $43 million in revenue for businesses who have worked with EGBI (according to their 2021 annual report). With 85% of their clients identifying as minority-owned, the organization is intentionally creating opportunities for equity in Austin.
Before her appointment in March, Davila worked as a volunteer for EGBI, operated her own consulting business, BCO Consulting Group, and worked as the executive director for both the Latino Arts, Culture & Education Organization and Amhiga Hispana.
Now, Davila is keen to continue serving her community in her new role at EGBI, while also pursuing an MBA at the University of Texas. She sees her position as a “dream come true” and urges other women to develop their passions and ignore the naysayers.
What experiences and passions led you to your role at EGBI?
I have a bachelor’s degree in business administration. My goal was to always work in corporate America, but when I moved to Austin, I started doing volunteer services. I would say that I really have a passion for [it]. At the time, people started figuring out that I was good with business and they started asking me questions [like], “Can you help me with a business plan?” It creeped up on me in a way that I didn’t realize. I was helping one, two, three people or more per week, and I wasn’t charging them. Then I started telling them my rates and scheduling appointments. I left my job and started doing consulting services. Fast forward eight years later, people from the board and from the team of EGBI invite me to apply for this position. It’s my dream come true, and I’m really excited.
What are your biggest priorities at EGBI right now? What do you hope to improve, and what do you hope to change?
One of my biggest priorities is doing community outreach at a whole new level. I think a lot of people in the community of Austin are a little lost on where to find information to develop their small businesses. Mom-and-pop and lifestyle businesses are the driving engine in our economy. My hope would be to share all the services that EGBI has to offer and to help the community, especially women and minorities, to improve their skills and their training to be more profitable and have more sustainable long-term businesses. It seems to me that EGBI is like a hidden gem in the community.
You previously worked as a volunteer for EGBI. How does community involvement fit into your role and in your daily life?
I was a volunteer for about eight years. I actually won the Volunteer of the Year award in 2022. Some people say they help the community through volunteer service, but sometimes volunteer service also helps you. It’s like a win-win situation where you help other people achieve improvement in their quality of life. Volunteer service is really important, and I think regardless of what one likes to do, one should figure out what their talents are and what you can do for the community.
What value do you see in working for a nonprofit as opposed to a larger company?
Having a job at a nonprofit business, consulting for women- and minority-owned businesses, is like a virtuous cycle. I’m not someone who can afford to volunteer 40 or more hours a week. But working at a nonprofit helps me to continue doing my passion and to continue helping the community for which I care the most. At the same time, I can provide for my own family. So I get to do what I’m good at doing, what I studied for, what my experience is about.
What is an accomplishment that you’re most proud of?
While having my own practice as a consultant, and having a translations and interpretations business, I was able to help more than 500 businesses throughout my consulting. It’s not a one-time thing; some of them are returning customers. That is a huge accomplishment for me, having something that I like to do and having people benefit from it.