WIP Isabella Casillas Guzman & Nina Vaca

Increasing access to capital for Latina and Latino entrepreneurs, leaders is the small business boom

A conversation with Isabella Casillas Guzman, SBA Administrator, and Nina Vaca, Pinnacle Group founder & CEO

In this episode of Work in Progress, I discuss increasing access to capital for Latino entrepreneurs with Isabella Casillas Guzman, administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and Nina Vaca, the founder and CEO of Pinnacle Group, a global IT staffing agency.

I sat down with Guzman and Vaca at the Aspen Latino Business Summit in Washington, D.C. in early September.

Small businesses are driving economic growth across the nation, according to the SBA’s Guzman, noting more that 13.1 million applications from entrepreneurs wanting to start a new company. It might surprise you who is starting those companies.

“What we’re seeing is that women and people of color are propelling that growth, starting businesses at really high rates,” says Guzman. “There are over 5 million Latino businesses here in this country creating jobs, creating products that are boosting our economic output. They have a 2.8 nearly trillion dollar impact in our economy, overall.”

Despite being at the lead of the small business boom, Guzman says investment in this community’s entrepreneurs has, typically, lagged. And, she says, that is hurting those business creators and the economy.

“We’re really tracking the changing face of entrepreneurship…to make sure that they have the tools to succeed because they have historic underinvestment that has limited their growth. And we need to change that if we want to see our economy grow into the future.”

Guzman tells me that many of the entrepreneurs are credit-worthy but are being shut out when it comes to getting the financial capital they need to start up and to grow. “If they don’t get those loans then that means they’re not creating jobs, they’re not creating the output. Maybe they’re not going to trade abroad in a new country. All that limits economic activity and limits opportunity for all.”

She points out that the SBA was created 70 years ago to fill capital gaps through lending programs, investment programs, and to propel and direct the federal spending around R&D to innovation grants to small businesses. “We need to do that with equity in mind to ensure that we’re reaching and serving and creating access to everyone,” Guzman concludes.

WorkingNation’s Ramona Schindelheim interviews Isabella Casillas Guzman and Nina Vaca at the Aspen Latino Business Summit 2023 in September.

Pinnacle Group’s Vaca echoes Guzman, “It is clear that the Latino community is impacting America in a variety of ways, but in entrepreneurship in a very meaningful way. Thirty-four percent (34%) of the new businesses are started by Latinas and women of color. The contributions that we’re making to the American economy are clear.”

Despite those contributions, Vaca says growth is a challenge. “While there are many Latina-owned businesses in this country, less than 10% of them are actually scaling in a very meaningful way. And capital isn’t just one challenge. It’s access to capital, but also access to contracts.”

She continues, “Government is an opportunity for contracts, so is corporate America. I think corporate America can play a very important role getting their supply chains acquainted with these HBEs, these Hispanic business enterprises that are out there. Because while many of them are small, there’s also scaled global mature Hispanic businesses as well.”

For Vaca, supporting her community is a passion. “I am spending a lot of my time advocating to the Latina, Latino community that business is an incredible place to be – not just STEM and technology – but business.”

“Business is for everyone, and it’s absolutely for Latinas. When I look at the level of Latinas that are in the C-suite, or in executive roles, or on boards, I don’t get mad. I get motivated because we need to give awareness to our young next generation how powerful business can be.”

You can hear much more from Guzman of the SBA and Vaca of Pinnacle Group on how to increase access to capital for Latino entrepreneurs in this week’s podcast, which you can listen to in this article or download wherever you get your podcasts.

Episode 286: Isabella Casillas Guzman, SBA Administrator, and Nina Vaca, Pinnacle Group founder & CEO
Host & Executive Producer: Ramona Schindelheim, Editor-in-Chief, WorkingNation
Producer: Larry Buhl
Executive Producers: Joan Lynch and Melissa Panzer
Theme Music: Composed by Lee Rosevere and licensed under CC by 4
Download the transcript for this podcast here.
You can check out all the other podcasts at this link: Work in Progress podcasts

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