Celebrating Latino Entrepreneurs during Hispanic Heritage Month
As we enter national Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 to Oct. 15), it’s appropriate to celebrate the profound and positive influence of Latinos, including those who own small businesses.
In California alone, there are over 800,000 Latino-owned small businesses, the majority of which are located in the greater Los Angeles region. Most companies are family-owned and operated and exemplify entrepreneurial spirit. Two such small businesses are California Modern Woodworks in Los Angeles and Super Mario Ice Cream in Indio, California.
Cool Sweet Entrepreneur
Mario Rodriguez has always thought of himself as an entrepreneur. He started driving his own ice cream truck in 1996 under the banner of Super Mario Ice Cream. But when he started buying multiple freezers to store his product, other ice cream purveyors asked Rodriquez to be their supplier. Mario said “yes” and has continued to grow ever since. In 2016, Mario wanted to purchase his commercial building. He took advantage of a special tax-credit program offered through non-profit lender CDC Small Business Finance and got an extremely low interest rate (under 3%) on his $550,000 SBA-504 loan. Mario is now better poised for growth and enjoys working side-by-side with his daughter Claudia Carranza.
A Passion for Mid-Century Furniture
Nearly 20 years ago, Rafael Martinez labeled himself a serial entrepreneur and history has matched the moniker. He has successfully started three successful small businesses in Los Angeles, the most recent being California Modern Woodworks, a wholesale/retail furniture design company specializing in mid-century-style wood credenzas, tables and other vintage pieces.
Earlier this year, Rafael and his company partner and wife, Leila Bardales, needed capital to open a storefront location where customers could view their creative furniture in person. They turned to the Small Business Finance Fund, an affiliate of CDC Small Business Finance with a focus on assisting Latino-owned entrepreneurs. Rafael and Leila got a $150,000 loan to put their expansion game plan in motion, which included purchasing new inventory, hiring new staff and refinancing an egregious online loan with a 35% interest rate.
“The folks with Small Business Finance Fund went beyond meeting our capital needs; they provided strategic financial direction for our company,” said Leila.
Focused Help for Latino-owned Small Businesses
Mario, Rafael and Leila are more fortunate than many Latino small business entrepreneurs looking for capital to grow their businesses. A new study commissioned by Small Business Finance Fund (SBFF), an affiliate of CDC Small Business Finance, revealed that 40 percent of the 815,000 Latino-owned small businesses in California have been denied capital by a bank or other commercial lender. “It’s been a catch-22 for Latinos,” said Robert Villarreal, president of SBFF. “With lower credit scores, it’s very difficult to qualify for the larger loans they need to grow their businesses. In many cases, they turn to quick, online lenders with burdensome payback terms. It’s not a sustainable scenario.”
With Hispanic business owners poised to become a significant driver of California’s future economy, SBFF has efforts underway to enhance access to capital for Latino entrepreneurs. SBFF is encouraging financial institutions to join them in meeting the needs of the community. Learn more about what’s at stake and action to take to promote change by viewing Capital for Latino Entrepreneurs.