Digame: Queer First-Gen Finance Jefa Lea Landaverde is Empowering Latinxs to Make Money Moves

Financial expert and founder of Riqueza, Lea Landaverde talks what motivates her and how she's improving financial literacy for Latinxs

Lea Landaverde RiquezaLea Landaverde Riqueza

Photos courtesy of Lea Landaverde

Lea Landaverde, known as the Latina Wealth Activist, is using her platform to reshape financial narratives for BIPOC. She is a queer, first-gen Latina with over ten years of diverse experience in wealth management, investment banking, technology, and personal finance. As the Founder of Riqueza Collective, she provides bilingual financial education to the next generation of wealth builders. This year she hosted the first ever bilingual financial education summit – Riqueza Reimagined Virtual Summit. The Dallas-based jefa is also an award-winning educator who regularly hosts workshops and offers 1:1 coaching at universities and nonprofits.

Which Latina(s) have had the greatest impact on your life and why?

My Mother: Watching my mom grow into the jefa that she is today has really empowered me to continue to fight the norms of sociedad. My mom has helped build our family landscaping business through running the operations on the back end. A lot of what I know today as an entrepreneur was because I watched her do it for our family. It’s so crazy to think about how my mom came from el campo with the education of only 8th grade, to then be able to learn English and run a successful business alongside my father.

I honestly believe every Latina in my life has made an impact on me because I can see their perseverance and determination to create something of themselves. Many of the Latinas in my life today are building businesses, brands and helping give back to the community and I couldn’t be more proud. I’m all about building a circle of herman@s that want to help you grow and also want to be mentored to grow too. I’m so grateful to have built that community for myself.

If you could meet a Latina icon who is no longer alive, who would it be and why?
Selena Quintanilla. Now that I live in Texas, I really feel the Tejano love. Selena has left her mark in this state and our community. I wonder how her life would have been different if she didn’t pass. I would have loved to learn about her de aqui y de alla experience and how she had persevered to build herself in a completely different era.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

“Ponte trucha” which is very common to hear in the Salvadoran community. This phrase is almost like “ponte las pilas”, but in a more assertive way. My dad would tell me this often no matter what situation I was in, from traveling, to school, to now running a business. I take this advice to keep your mind open to opportunities but also be guarded and alert to those who want to take advantage of you. Most importantly, this advice means to work hard for what you want. Ponte trucha mi gente.

Who was the first person to believe in your dreams/goals?

The first person to believe in me was my college counselor, Katie Kamachi, PhD. When I was starting my business courses for my associates degree, I walked into her office and told her that I didn’t want to be a statistic or fall into a box like everyone else. I told her that I wanted to be more than just being Latina, I wanted to make a difference in the world but I didn’t know how. Because of her, she motivated me to choose a finance major and focus on understanding money. She motivated me to fight for my voice in a white dominated world. I was usually the only Latina in my classes and was the only Latina to graduate in my class. I thank Katie everyday because to this day she keeps on rooting for me and my success.

How do you stay connected to your cultural roots?

Being Salvadoreña is in my blood. It’s not something I can hide because I even have a Salvadoran accent when I speak. Being able to connect with my family members in El Salvador always reconnects me to our culture and history. I’ve been to El Salvador multiple times and honestly I’m overdue for another visit to immerse myself back into my heritage. I am proud to be 100 percent Salvadoreña and it’s not just because of our yummy pupusas.

What do you wish more people understood about what you do?

Being a creator and entrepreneur is not easy. I dedicate my whole self to the work I do, because I genuinely want to give back to the community in every way possible. I do think my community knows that, but my industry of work is old, pale, male and stale. The finance industry sees the work I do as charity because I primarily serve Latines, First-Gens and Immigrants. Sometimes they don’t even take me seriously because I don’t have a designation by my name and it can be really frustrating. I have spent over 10 years in the industry, gotten many degrees and yet I still have to prove my worth to companies and people to help move the needle forward with Riqueza. I’ve been told many times that I’m fighting an uphill battle but let me tell you I have won a lot of battles and it shows. I’m doing it for our gente, but this is a reminder that this work isn’t free and we are worth investing in.

What motivates you?

I am genuinely motivated by our community. Every person I meet inspires me every day. I love receiving DMs from my followers updating me on their financial wins or that they applied my financial tips in their life and that they are empowering their parents to do the same. I LOVE TO SEE IT. I am motivated by the fact that SO many people still need financial knowledge and I’m trying to put it right in front of their faces so they can break generational curses and push themselves to create wealth. It motivates me when I meet students and they tell me that my story is motivating them to pursue finance or even start learning about money. I am motivated by the impact I can make in someone’s life and I’m so happy I am the one to do this work.

How did you end up on the professional path you’re on now?

Watching my family lose everything after the ’08 financial crisis lit a fire within me to learn more about money. My parents lost their business, home.. Literally todo because they did not know how to manage their finances or understand the obligations they were getting themselves into. I am the eldest daughter, so I felt a responsibility to protect my family. The one thing I knew is that we didn’t know how to manage our money, so I decided to learn to understand it. By the age of 15-16, I was already taking my first finance classes. But let me just say, I didn’t ever plan on being an entrepreneur or a creator, that was not on the 10 year plan.

I knew I wanted to be a CEO one day, but I genuinely thought it was going to be at the investment bank I used to work for. I thought I’d ride the wave for 10-15 years and hopefully leave my mark. Let me tell you, the pandemic really brought the truth out of everyone and I saw a huge disparity in wealth. I would get notified by the company I worked for that they were making the most amount of money they’ve ever made and then my tias/tios are telling me they don’t have jobs and are struggling to make ends meet. This is where Riqueza was born.

What is your greatest professional achievement so far? Personal achievement?

To be an educated QUEER Latina with a Masters degree and run two businesses that are leaving a mark in our culture is my biggest success. Mis esfuerzos no fueron en vano. Latina Wealth Activist and Riqueza are my biggest joys. I get to create content that empowers the people through social media and be able to teach in person/virtual financial education. I get to tap into universities, corporations and nonprofits to help give back in any way we can. Because of my brand, I’ve been able to go inside the New York Stock Exchange and watch the bell ring, share my story and knowledge at Nasdaq, be featured in Vogue Mexico, go on The Hill and talk to congress and advocate for small businesses.. I am so proud and honored to be the person I wanted to see growing up.

What is a goal you have that you haven’t accomplished yet and what are you doing to get closer to accomplishing it?

I want to create a credit union for la gente by la gente. I want to take everything I’ve learned and be able to make an economic impact through banking. I believe Riqueza can evolve and grow into a credit union one day and be able to provide the education and tools for our gente to build healthier relationships with money. I believe I’m taking every step possible to get closer to that dream; I know it will happen, it’s just a matter of when.

What pop culture moment made you feel seen?

To be honest, the fact that El Salvador has now become a tourist hotspot has made me feel really seen. Growing up telling people my family is from El Salvador, many would think I was in a gang or something. They would judge my country because of the lack of safety and gangs. Now that the country has been rebuilt by Bukele, I feel so seen that people are exploring our culture, food and beaches. It makes me want to go back all the time.

How do you practice self care?

Lately, self care looks like going on morning walks with friends. I’m discovering more about how stress impacts women’s health and I want to lower my cortisol levels. Being an entrepreneur is stressful, it is not for the weak. There will be years of abundance and years of struggle, so being able to take care of myself and my health has been a priority, because I know if I’m not okay my business won’t be either.

Quick Fire:

Shoutout an Instagram account that could use more love and tell us why you’re a fan:
@LatinaSexologist Jessica Sanchez, PhD

She’s growing her social presence but don’t be fooled this girl is doing the work for women. She is a big advocate for empowering Latinas with their sexuality and voice. This is such a taboo topic in our culture and is something we need to talk about more. Plus, she does a lot of advocacy work for domestic violence survivors and again it’s something we tend to ignore in the Latine community. We need to amplify the people who are doing the work that isn’t talked about enough.

Shoutout your favorite Latina owned business and why:
Okay me la estan haciendo dificil, I have so many favorite Latina owned businesses and these businesses are so passionate about what they do, that they deserve all the recognition, so I’m going to list my top 5:

Colibri Panaderia – Dallas, TX
Latina Dreamer Designs – Dallas, TX
Sin Titulo – Chicago, IL
Space Hoes – Los Angeles
Morena Mia – Los Angeles

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digame finance finance experts financial advice financial freedom la riqueza Lea Landaverde wealth activist
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