COVID-19 Impact on Latino-Owned Businesses
with Danny Vargas of The Latino Coalition
A recent study found that 86% of Latino business owners felt immediate negative impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, a rate higher than other ethnic groups.
Danny Vargas, National Director of The Latino Coalition, joins host Tetiana Anderson to discuss efforts to help small Latino businesses recover and thrive after the pandemic.
August 31, 2021
Anderson: The COVID-19 pandemic has hit all businesses big and small, but some more directly than others as the crisis has disproportionately affected minority communities. Hello and welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers." I'm Tetiana Anderson. The Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative reported in May of 2020 that 86% of Latino business owners felt immediate negative impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, a higher rate than other ethnic groups. Danny Vargas is national director of the Latino Coalition, and he joins me to share efforts to help small Latino businesses recover and thrive after the pandemic. And Danny, thanks for being here.
Vargas: Thank you so much, Tetiana.
Anderson: So I want to start this interview by looking back. What was going on with Latino businesses before COVID hit?
Vargas: Before COVID, Latino-owned businesses were doing great. We were representing a significant portion of business growth in the United States. You know, in that period between 2010 and 2020, Hispanic-owned businesses represented 34% of business growth as compared to 1% for the rest of the business population. So we had a material impact on the economy in the period before COVID-19 and then the pandemic hit.
Anderson: We know from that Stanford research that Latino-owned businesses were hit immediately and in a much harder way than other ethnic groups. Why is that? I mean, what were some of the things that they were struggling with specifically?
Vargas: So, I think the Stanford program is fantastic. I went through it last year myself during COVID, and what we saw was that Hispanic-owned businesses had a significant drop in their revenue, number one. And number two, they were having difficulty accessing some of the loan programs. So some of the SBA programs like the PPE loans, they found it more challenging to be able to get those loans approved. And when they did, they had a more challenging time being able to get the full aspect of what they were able to apply for. So they had a big financial impact as a result of COVID-19. But we are hopeful and optimistic for the future that they'll be able to recover in a material way.
Anderson: And Latina-owned businesses have their own particular struggles. Explain that.
Vargas: You know, Latina-owned businesses that are significantly tied to their communities had a particular difficulty in terms of their revenue impact. So they had significant decreases in their revenue and their customer base. So that had a big impact on their ability to stay in business and recover from the pandemic. But we do have a lot of programs that we're offering to make sure that those Latino-owned businesses are able to come back and thrive in the future.
Anderson: And what are some of the innovative ways that these businesses are recovering and how is the Latino Coalition there to offer assistance?
Vargas: Well, I'll tell you, one of the great things of our community is that we are hopelessly optimistic. We're always looking forward to the future. We're finding ways to be innovative and finding our companies that are able to use technology in different ways that they had in the past. They're able to come up with innovative ways to be able to offer services to their customers that they hadn't thought of. They're able to partner with companies and act as subcontractors in many ways that might not have been part of the strategy in the past. In terms of what the Latino Coalition is doing, we've got our matchpoint portal that allows small businesses to be able to connect with larger corporations and agencies that are looking for vendors. We've got webinars that we're offering in terms of information that these small businesses can gather and resources on our website. We've got events that are important for them. Look, we exist at a unique intersection of policy, entrepreneurship, and business growth and development. And at that nexus is the Latino Coalition offering those great connections and relationships that are the key to be able to grow a business in the future.
Anderson: The U.S. Treasury Secretary is also optimistic about Latino businesses. And in fact, she said in March of 2021 that, "If history is any guide, Hispanic-owned businesses will drive a large portion of the recovery." Danny, what caused her to say that?
Vargas: You know, fortunately, Secretary Yellen was able to look in the rearview mirror and see that in that 10-year period from 2010 to 2020, Hispanic-owned businesses grew at 34%, compared to 1% for the rest of the business population. If our nation's economy is going to recover and thrive after the pandemic, a significant portion of it is gonna be on the backs of Hispanic-owned businesses as they have in the past. And we're ready to take up that charge. We're ready to move forward, innovate and thrive and grow not only our businesses, but also grow the national economy. So we're really looking forward to making sure that we can make that happen.
Anderson: And Danny, if people want to find out more about the work of the Latino Coalition, what's the website?
Vargas: So I'll give you two. I'll give you -- So thelatinocoalition.com is for the broad organization. And for the Matchpoint program, tlcmatchpoint.com, where they can go in and these companies can put in their information and be able to market themselves to large corporations. It's a fantastic program. We invite everyone to participate and join us on this journey towards economic growth for the future.
Anderson: Danny Vargas with the Latino Coalition, thank you so much.
Vargas: Thank you, Tetiana. Thanks.
Anderson: And thanks to our viewers as well for watching. As always, for more great conversations with leaders in your own community and across the nation, just log on to comcastnewsmakers.com. I'm Tetiana Anderson.