The San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is the first organization of its type in the United States, having been originally chartered as the Mexican Chamber of Commerce in 1929. Today, there are about 35 Hispanic chambers of commerce in Texas and about 600 across the nation.
The Mexican Chamber was organized by Don Enrique Santibañez, Consul General of Mexico in San Antonio, who became its first president. Given the deep historical and commercial ties and tensions between the U.S. and Mexico, the chamber’s primary emphasis in its early years was to promote trade, policy and cultural harmony.
While the chamber’s leaders forged ahead to define modern Hispanic business, the social climate of the time posed many barriers. Minorities faced discrimination in business, just as in employment, education, voting, infrastructure, access to capital and markets. These social issues necessitated that the chamber go beyond the traditional scope for chambers of commerce and into one of dual social and business advocacy.