How does the SBA help Hispanic businesses?

The US Federal Small Business Administration (SBA) is on a mission to help entrepreneurs and small business owners by offering them advice, capital, and access to government contracting. During the coronavirus pandemic, the SBA has been dedicated to providing financial assistance and information for small businesses that have been affected financially, helping them recover and emerge from the crisis.

Abasto Magazine interviewed Mike Arriola, District Director of the SBA in North Carolina, to learn how the federal agency is supporting small businesses and what recommendations it offers so that Hispanic entrepreneurs can access the aid offered by the government.

The SBA has 68 district offices across the country, many with bilingual staff to serve the non-English speaking community.

Mike Arriola, SBA North Carolina District Director.

Abasto Magazine: There is no doubt that, in the last decade, minority-owned and especially Hispanic-owned businesses have grown exponentially in the US What role has the SBA played in this positive growth?

Mike Arriola: The growth of the Hispanic community in the United States is reflected in the growth of SBA loans, advisory services, and the growth of federal contracting opportunities for Hispanic-owned businesses.

The SBA does three basic things, access to capital through SBA loans, federal contracting opportunities to help small businesses take advantage of federal contracting opportunities, and counseling and training.

SBA offices do a fair amount of counseling and training for small businesses, but most of our counseling and training is done through resource partners we sponsor across the country.

One of them is called SCORE, the service that was formerly known as Service Core of Retired Executives. Now we simply say SCORE because it is not just about retired people, but about people active in business. It is a volunteer group of mentors, men and women from all walks of life who volunteer their time to help mentor and educate small business owners throughout their life cycle, whether they want to start or do. they want to quit their business.

This is a resource for advice and training. Another resource for advice and training is the Small Business Development Center System (SBDCS). There are SBDCS throughout the country. These centers are staffed with full-time paid consultants and generally, but not always, tend to focus on existing companies that need specialized assistance. For example, doing business with the government or exporting or commercializing technology, which is why they have also grown.

We also sponsor a network of business centers for women across the country and lastly, there is a network of business assistance centers for veterans across the country.

So just as the Hispanic community has grown, our network of resource partners has also grown to help serve you and, in many cases, you will find that there is a lot of intersection between the women entrepreneurs who coach and the Hispanic community as well. For example, here in North Carolina there are many Hispanic women counseling at our women’s business centers.

RA: When a Hispanic businessman wants to open, for example, a restaurant or a grocery store, how can the SBA provide support?

MA: For regular loan purposes, probably the best known of our SBA programs is our SBA 7 (a) guarantee program in which we do not loan the money ourselves, but provide a government guarantee for a loan that people would apply for. through a participating lender. That lender can be a bank, credit union, or community financial institution.

In terms of Hispanics’ access to this capital, our guarantee is what really makes these institutions want to grant loans to Hispanic entrepreneurs. So having us as co-signers is a very strong point in your favor.

The SBA also has microloans, which are smaller types of loans, usually up to about $ 50,000, in which we loan the money at very low interest rates and these lenders lend it to as many small businesses as possible.

Related Article: SBA Opens Enrollment for $ 28.6 Billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund

RA: How easy is it for a small business owner to get a loan?

MA: One of the things the SBA has today is an online portal called Lender Match where you go online to match and write, who are you ?, what kind of loan do you want ?, for what kind of business ?, what purpose? So you click the button and then you get all these returns from the lenders who would be interested in granting you a loan.

The second step is to get the application going, so make sure you have a decent level of credit. Check out some of our resource partners like SCORE if you need help. They may be able to give you some advice, but some consumer or credit organizations, non-profit organizations can also help you.

Make sure you have a business plan. As an applicant, you will present it to the lender of your choice. Many times the lender will accept it by email, or you can upload it to their portal, but today almost everything is electronic, especially in the current environment of the pandemic.

RA: What can we expect in 2022 regarding what awaits small businesses?

MA: I have high expectations for the year 2022, but to get there we have to be able to leave this pandemic behind. Yes, far behind, and we all have an interest in a healthy city, we all care that our state is healthy and that our country is healthy, because the sooner we leave this pandemic behind, the faster we can get back to our business. Therefore, we must make sure that we all get vaccinated.

But looking ahead, I am pleased to say that we are already seeing some very hopeful signs of a return to normalcy. My office phone lines and emails are starting to sideline when it comes to COVID relief loans to focus more on questions about how do I start a business? Or where can I get help with a business plan? Or, where can I get help with a business plan? Or can you tell me about other sources of funding?

I’m seeing a lot more of that and would venture to say that my colleagues and the other 67 district offices across the country are also experiencing very positive signs that people are wanting to get back into business.

You might expect this to be an ongoing pattern to the point where more types of regular SBA loans and more types of counseling services are sought.

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