Sustaining Latina Entrepreneurs in COVID-19

with Monika Mantilla of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Hispanic-owned businesses have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Monika Mantilla, Board Member of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, shares how Latina entrepreneurs can survive and thrive in the pandemic.

Posted on:

Sep 14, 2020

Hosted by: Tetiana Anderson
Produced by: National Newsmakers Team

Anderson: As markets fall and businesses remain closed, the COVID-19 pandemic is devastating the finances of millions of American businesses. Hello, and welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers." I'm Tetiana Anderson. While the economic downturn is slamming businesses all across the board, recent studies show that those that are minority owned are taking the most severe hits. That is something that Monika Mantilla knows a whole lot about. She is the president and CEO of Altura Capital Group. She's also the managing partner of Small Business Community Capital, but she's joining us here on "Comcast Newsmakers" as a representative of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, where she's a board member. Monika, thank you for being here.

Mantilla: My pleasure. Thank you for the invitation.

Anderson: So, in a time of economic uncertainty -- this pandemic is devastating businesses all across the country -- how important would you say that it is for minorities to be entrepreneurs, to have institutional wealth that can be built over time?

Mantilla: Right. Well, entrepreneurialism is a formidable way for societies to prosper, right? For families to prosper, for societies and communities to do better. Right now, with COVID, we've had a very difficult situation with our entrepreneurs. Think about Latinas. We're 2.3 million businesses growing at an incredibly fast rate -- 40% versus 20% of other women business owners. But unfortunately, the rate of growth when it comes to revenue is actually half. So, many new businesses, right, but when we see the growth, when it comes to revenue, we're actually behind. We're actually lagging. I do believe that there's a lot of recipes to address that. And during a pandemic, we have a hyper sensitive situation. Things that were not working before are now in an even worse situation. But there are a series of solutions that I believe both public policy and private sector can work on to ensure that these businesses have an opportunity to survive and to thrive.

Anderson: So, you touched on it just a little bit. But we know that businesses are suffering across the board, but it seems that brown business owners are particularly susceptible. Why is that? What are some of the factors that make that true?

Mantilla: Unfortunately, the statistics we're seeing are quite alarming. We hear that around 86% of Latino businesses are suffering, have had dramatic losses in revenue, have had to let go of employees, and are suffering around liquidity. There's a number of reasons around this. Part of it is that these businesses usually operated with very small liquidity. So when you have a 40%, 50%, 80%, or 100% of losses in revenue for one, two, three, four months, you're going to have a situation where businesses are just not sustainable. There's also the fact that many of our industries -- many of our businesses are in industries that have been very hard hit by COVID, like the restaurant industry, the retail industry, the services industry. And so our business owners have certainly been some of the hardest hit, and our community has been some of the hardest hit when actually many of essential workers -- essential services are being provided by women and by minorities.

Anderson: So, it seems that COVID has sort of shone a light on a lot of these institutional inequities that minority business owners face. How successful do you think that they have been up to this point in really accessing the resources that they need during a time like this?

Mantilla: So, I think the PPP program has been incredibly important, but unfortunately, many of our business owners have yet to access it. There's a number of reasons around it, like the number one was perhaps connectivity with banks and financial institutions. It's wonderful that now community development financial institutions are working closely and have received the capital and are receiving every day more infrastructure, resources so they can reach these businesses. There's also something around access, training, ability to understand what paperwork needs to be put in. So, there are many resources out there. What is very important for our business owners is to access them, to go to the chambers, go to the SBC offices, go to MBDA offices there. And I think local and state government has also created a wide variety of resources that I think it's very important for business owners to look and ask around, look at the Internet, and tap into these resources, because they are available. In many other countries around the world, these resources aren't available, but we have resources available both at the public and private sector that every business owner should tap into.

Anderson: And then, I want to ask you -- Your passion really is expanding opportunities for promising entrepreneurs. So, are there a couple of things that you can direct people to do right now to ensure that their businesses are successful?

Mantilla: Well, that's a great question, and what I would share with you is that thinking about capital and how to utilize capital is always one of the most important questions that a business owner should think about. And we like to use the GREAT model and think about GREAT as "G" for Growth, "R" for Refinancing, "E" for Expansion, "A" for Acquisition, and "T" for Transitions. So, if you think about it, these are the five ways in which any business owner can utilize capital to grow their business, to expand their business, to create wealth. And every business owner should think about, "How do I grow? How do I refinance? How do I expand? How can I acquire or be acquired? And how can I transition?" So, these are really nice ways to think about how you utilize capital to grow and prosper.

Anderson: Monika, if you can just tell us what resources people can go to the chamber for.

Mantilla: So, people can access and all the social media in different outlets, and they can find very valuable information about webinars and training opportunities, and, very importantly, connect to the network of 250 local chambers around the country so that they can find their local chamber and access local resources from and through that.

Anderson: Monika Mantilla, thank you so much for being here.

Mantilla: My pleasure.

Anderson: And thanks to our viewers as well for joining us. For more great interviews with leaders in your own community and across the country, be sure to visit I'm Tetiana Anderson.

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