During the COVID-19 pandemic, small businesses have faced numerous unforeseen obstacles. With the implementation of the Federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), some busines owners have found some relief amidst this difficult time. As an organization dedicated to help start, sustain, and grow Hispanic-owned businesses to achieve community prosperity, Prospera’s utmost priority is to provide our clients with guidance, knowledge, and tools to help them get through this challenging period. Below we highlight some Prospera clients who have been able to obtain emergency business capital.
In Central Florida, Maria Fernanda Castro co-owns Cala Investment Group, dba Goin’ Postal Goldenrod. She and her husband established their business in 2015—to offer door-to-door mail, notary, and other services—with a U.S. investor visa. As soon as COVID-19 became a threat in Orlando, they were forced to close their business for two weeks. The demand for their services significantly decreased as businesses closed and people sheltered at home. In the meantime, Maria Fernanda reached out to several local organizations and institutions seeking help to sustain their business. Prospera helped them to understand the various business emergency capital options available for COVID-19 and with the process of applying for a PPP loan through Fifth Third Bank. Although it was very challenging to qualify due to their immigrant status, they were able to obtain the funds at last, to be used mostly for payroll, with the rest going to pay for rent and other fixed operational costs. Maria Fernanda advises all Hispanic business owners to remain optimistic despite the situation and reminds them that we are all together in this pandemic.
In South Florida, Michelle Fajardo, owner of Cargo International Consolidators, has been able to keep her business open throughout the quarantine. However, she had to furlough several employees due to new obstacles in international cargoes and a decrease in demand. As Michelle states, she initiated her pursuit of PPP funds even before these where advertised. However, her experience working with a “large bank” meant there was a longer queue of business owners seeking to achieve the same goal. Prospera reached out to Michelle since the start of the pandemic in South Florida to assist her with guidance and support. Although Michelle was not granted a loan in the first round, in the second Prospera helped her follow up on the application until she received approval from Chase Bank. With the capital obtained, Cargo International Consolidators will be able to cover payroll and rent expenses. Michelle advises all Hispanic entrepreneurs to remain united and help each other to keep the local economy afloat.
In the West Coast of Florida, Nikson Restituyo and his son own Lanior Carpet Cleaning, LLC. Since 2017, the company provides carpet cleaning services in the Tampa Bay area. As soon as the quarantine started, Nikson experienced significant revenue losses in his business. While adapting to continue operating with personal protective equipment and slowly regain clients, Prospera helped Nikson understand the various business emergency capital options available for COVID-19 and guided him in the processes to apply for an EIDL and PPP. On the second round of approvals, Bank of America granted funds to Lanior Carpet Cleaning, which will be used to cover at least two months of payroll and resume temporarily suspend services, such as digital marketing for the business. Nikson urges Hispanic entrepreneurs to be motivated for the future, get help, continue operating their businesses, and seek Prospera’s support.
In North Carolina, Cecilia Carrion is the owner of CC&P Business Essentials, offering bookkeeping, insurance, and other services since 2018. Once the pandemic reached the City of Charlotte, Cecilia started to see a decrease in demand and growing fear among her clients. She had to close shop and transition to working remotely. Given the lack of income, Cecilia initiated the process of applying for the PPP. “The process was very frustrating at the beginning but very rewarding in the end,” said Cecilia. “It was a collective effort, working closely with the bank and Prospera until I got the approval.” Cecilia was able to find alternative approaches and obtained emergency capital for payroll and rent. Cecilia suggests Hispanic entrepreneurs stay informed and take advantage of Prospera’s orientations, workshops, and consulting to grow their businesses.
Prospera understands the obstacles and challenges that Hispanic business owners have had to face because of COVID-19 in our communities. As our recovery continues, we will continue assisting them to overcome difficulties and helping them become stronger for the future.