Jose Luis Gutierrez, a Dominican-American artist and former Marine Corps, owns Karibe Dance Studio in the City of Sweetwater in South Florida, which he founded 17 years ago. When the pandemic started in March 2020, Jose had to close the business due to developing COVID-19 guidelines and regulations. One month after being shut down, Jose sought Prospera’s assistance to overcome the challenges and losses caused by the pandemic.
Concerned about the Miami community’s health and wellness, Jose knew he could make a difference through his business. Their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing could be improved through dance, by staying physically active, socializing with others, and releasing endorphins. Prospera saw his passion, understood his vision to grow his business, and invested resources in helping him realize it. By leveraging a JPMorgan Chase-funded partnership, Prospera and Ascendus – an inclusive institution that provides customized financial solutions to small business owners, collaborated on a holistic and integrated consulting approach to help Jose with the short-term needs for emergency capital during the pandemic, as well as longer-term solutions to sustain and grow Karibe Dance Studio.
Initially, Jose spent a lot of money on COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and safety protocols in trying to provide adults and children with the opportunity to socialize safely in his dance studio.
As a sole proprietor, Jose did not qualify for the first Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) round, and when he applied for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan, he was initially approved but due to a misunderstanding when completing the application, he later received a new email declining the loan. However, Prospera was able to assist him in contacting the SBA and successfully reversing the denial. His EIDL was approved by the SBA in late June.
Prospera and Ascendus helped Jose secure an additional micro-loan and, once sole proprietors became eligible, PPP funding in early 2021. Part of the capital he secured was used for payroll, rent, and other vital expenses. Another part was used to establish and launch a new dance program for children over three years old, including curriculum, facility expansion, staff capacity, and other related expenses. Jose launched his new dance program towards the end of 2020. Moreover, Jose was also awarded a grant to develop a new business plan that would help him analyze his business strategy and study opportunities for growth.
Armed with his new business plan and improved financial position, Jose started considering mortgage financing options to purchase the property where his dance studio is located. Prospera referred him to a partner with experience with real estate and mortgages who could assist him in applying for an SBA loan. Jose is expecting to close on his mortgage loan in just a few weeks, which will help him implement his new business plan, diversify his revenues, and ensure his long-term growth.