In California, the influence of Latinos reverberates through the art, food, culture, and businesses that make up the fabric of every community in the state. Making up a large majority of the population, Latinos are also a big percentage of small business owners. From food trucks to artesania shops, panaderias to carnicerias, and tiendas de ropa – Latinos are foundational in the economic structure of the state. These businesses are the embodiment of the American Dream that, for many, is a symbol of success, status, and community.
For many of these small business owners, this dream that was built by their hard work came to a screeching halt when the pandemic forced shutdowns. The shutdowns were devastating for many businesses causing them to let go of employees and for some shattering their dream of owning a business. For many in the Latino community, access to resources is limited and often difficult to come by. Latinos often turn to their trusted networks and community organizations that they know they can trust for help, but sometimes that can prove to be challenging.
The California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce (CAHCC) is one of those community organizations that has proven to be a lifeline for many of these entrepreneurs, especially in the face of the pandemic. With this knowledge and existing efforts to expand the services of Prestamos CDFI to California, Lisa Gonzales from the team reached out in hopes of creating a partnership to help bring our PPP services to small business owners in California.
The partnership between CAHCC and Prestamos CDFI proved to be fruitful right off the bat. With a parallel mission and vision of serving hard-to-reach communities, both organizations worked together to help businesses access the PPP – CAHCC providing the network and Prestamos CDFI helping provide access to the PPP assistance.
As Oscar Garcia, Senior Vice President of the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce recalls, “Many of these business owners disqualify themselves, because of fear and lack of trust. Prestamos CDFI worked closely with these businesses providing services in their own language and with the understanding of their needs. This created an automatic trust that made the difference.”
For many business owners, like Rodolfo Eriza, trust was a big component. Owner of Las Americas Panaderia y Carniceria in Rancho Cordova, Rodolfo had experienced major setbacks because of the shutdown and it was getting difficult to make ends meet. Business had slowed down considerably and his usual clients had stopped coming in. He knew he needed help but didn’t know where to turn to or what assistance he would qualify for.
He had immigrated many years ago to the United States and began his career in physical labor, but his American Dream was to own and operate his own business. Rodolfo looked forward to being his own boss and being able to make an impact in the life of his family and community. Once he saved enough money, he opened up Las Americas and had successfully operated it for many years. The thought of potentially losing his dream was devastating to him.
Prior to the shutdown, his business was doing so well that he actually added a small restaurant to the shop which brought in the majority of his business. The shutdown took all of that away from him and while he tried different strategies to make up for the loss in profit, not much was filling the gap.
That was until one of his providers, that is a member of CAHCC, gave him the information to apply for the PPP. Feeling hesitant and uncertain of Prestamos, an organization he didn’t know, Rodolfo decided to move forward and apply. As he submitted the documents, he came across a portion he wasn’t fully sure of so he stopped his application. A few hours later, Melissa Cordova from the Prestamos team, reached out to ask about his incomplete application.
With her encouragement and assistance, Rodolfo regained the confidence he needed and completed the application. “I am very grateful to Melissa for her help. I was really afraid to apply and give my information to an organization I had never heard of. The personal help and customer service Melissa provided changed that.”, recounts Rodolfo of his experience with Prestamos. Rodolfo is grateful that organizations like Prestamos CDFI and CAHCC exist to help Latino business owners like him, navigate these complicated processes and access resources.
“Many times Latino business owners aren’t assisted in a meaningful way”, says Rodolfo. “Through the customer service and constant communication, I was put at ease and built trust with them.” Through the collaboration between CAHCC and Prestamos, both organizations have proven that trust and meaningful relationship development can be a game-changer for all parties involved.
The big winner in all of this is the client”, says Oscar. “We provided a much-needed resource to business owners in a way that engaged them and was respectful of their culture and needs”. As Prestamos CDFI continues its efforts of expansion of services to California businesses, it will be imperative to continue developing strong foundational partnerships that will maximize the impact on the clients.
Teresa Miranda, Vice President of Prestamos CDFI, looks forward to a bright future in the state of California. “With loans programs available from $250,000 up to $1,000,000 our team is thrilled at the prospect of helping small business owners achieve their dreams and take their businesses to the next level”. Prestamos exists to help nurture and grow entrepreneurs through their journeys. We are a mission-driven entity that operates under the non-profit Chicanos Por La Causa, which provides communities with resources ranging from health, education, financial services, housing, and advocacy. Prestamos continues its efforts to advance our work to provide high-quality financial products and services for small businesses that lead to impactful economic development projects.