Things That Matter

Latinos Are Running More Businesses Than Ever, But They’re Still More Likely to Be Denied Funding By Big Banks

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The United States Latino population is steadily growing and with that, the demographics are shifting. More and more Latinos are becoming the first ones in their family to go to college, enter the white collar workforce, and increasingly, open up their own businesses.

And while all this change feels like progress, it also comes with its own set of hurdles.

A new study showed that Latino-owned business are significantly less likely to be approved for loans, despite surpassing the national revenue growth average.

Latino-owned businesses are skyrocketing, but banks still don’t want to finance them. “Latino [business] revenue growth should be a key metric in helping them gain capital, but they continue to fall short,” said Stanford research analyst Marlene Orozco to NBC.

The study, conducted by the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative, found that 50% of white business-owners who applied for a loan of $100,000 over the last five years were approved. In contrast, only 20% of Latino business-owners were approved.

Unfortunately, this phenomenon extended to federal COVID-19 relief, like the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). PPP was meant to help small businesses who were negatively impacted by the pandemic.

The thing is, the federal government ultimately relied on traditional, large banks to approve or deny applicants.

Latinos and Black people were denied COVID-19 Paycheck Protection Program loans at significantly higher rates than their white peers.

Even when successful entrepreneurs like Los Angeles-based restaurateur David Favela applied for a PPP loan, he was denied on the basis of not being “bankable”. Favela is the owner of three successful restaurants and breweries in California as well as being a 2020 James Beard Award finalist.

He was denied a PPP loan because he hadn’t funded his businesses with “traditional” capital (i.e. a loan from a big bank). When he started his business in 2013, he relied on his own savings as well as funds from family members.

But this type of financing is common among people of color. POC often rely on family members and/or crowdsourcing to kickstart their businesses. Unfortunately, big banks look down on that sort of non-traditional funding.

Traditional banks are more likely to approve applicants they have preexisting relationships with.

And people of color are less likely to have established relationships with large banks because, well, they don’t trust them. And arguably, for good reason. So, the plight of small business-owners of color becomes a vicious and endless cycle.

“Latinos are making strides in starting businesses and growing,” said Orozco. “Despite these trends, securing financing remains a challenge.”

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These Latina-Owned Businesses Are Winners Of The El Pollo Loco Grants

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These Latina-Owned Businesses Are Winners Of The El Pollo Loco Grants

todoverde / yucasla / Instagram

El Pollo Loco announced a grant program to help Latina-owned businesses in the Los Angeles area. The grant, which is $10,000 and mentorship to grow their businesses, went to several businesses ran by Latinas. Covid-19 has devastated the small business community and women have been the hardest hit. El Pollo Loco’s grants offered some businesses a necessary lifeline.

Andrea’s Healthy Kitchen

Andrea’s Healthy Kitchen started in 2013 and aims to offer people healthy juices to help with their own health goals. Tatiana Pacheco’s own journey in weight loss with the help of juices inspired the company to be.

“It means a lot for AHK and we are going to be forever grateful for all the support we received from our clients, friends, followers and family,” Pacheco said. “The amount of love was unbelievable during this contest. I cried with every single nomination because they all had a special memory or reason to nominate AHK.”

Milpa Grille

Desyi Minera Serrano created Milpa Grille to connect people with their Mesoamerican ancestors through food. The most important part of the Milpa Grille experience is the use of the all-important ingredient: corn.

“This El Pollo Loco [grant] is huge for us. It will ease my mind knowing that we have the fund to catch up to those bills that piled up during COVID. But most importantly that you have organizations/companies that are willing to help and assist others during a time where the hospitality industry has been hit the hardest,” Minera Serrano says. “Having such a huge company like El Pollo Loco help us professionals is such a privilege. We’re going to ensure that the professional help is applied to Milpa not only to better us as a team but also see how we can share what we applied so we thrive as a community.”

Alchemy Organica

Chef Denise Vallejo is a first-generation indigenous Xicana who is bringing plant-based foods to everyone who finds her on social media. Alchemy Organica is a pop-up restaurant, lifestyle brand, and product line with roots in the plant-based heritage of Mexico.

“My main focus has always been the creative. I consider myself an artist first and this business cannot exist without the passion I feel for my art. However, I look forward to having expert business & financial advice to support me as I continue to grow. I come from a very humble background & working class family,” Vallejo says. “There’s so much for me to learn about running a sustainable business & becoming financially literate. I grew up seeing my father self-employed & running his own businesses, but I often wonder how much more successful his businesses could have been if he had access to more resources. It feels like I’m being supported by the universe to break generational curses now.”

Yucas LA

For decades, ‘Mama’ Socorro Herrera has been offering delicious bites from the Yucatan and people cannot get enough. According to their website, Mama and her husband Jaime first got customers by promising that they’d love it or they’d get double their money back.

Mama was touched to see the letters of love a support they received in the nomination process for the grant. Mama says that the grant to Yucas LA has “provided a breathing space financially, and an invaluable opportunity to be mentored in a specific area of business. I feel like I’ve been allowed free rein of the candy store! The campaign itself has generated a buzz that improved business.”

Café Santo

Owners Pilar Castañeda and Marlon Gonzalez are giving people a wonderful taste of Latino coffee culture with their coffee cart. The pop-up coffee business is also in the process of creating a modern Oaxacan coffee shop in California.

“We’ve put all of our heart and soul to bring our community quality coffee and a great experience to take home,” Castañeda says. “This grant will help Café Santo reach the next step in our journey, using these funds towards opening our first contemporary Oaxacan coffee shop in the Eastside of LA. El Pollo Loco’s professional mentorship will help guide us in building a solid foundation for our growing small business, something that will create long-lasting change for us as an emerging business.”

La Llorona Bakes

Adriana De Casas’ business, La Llorona Bakes LLC, is an example of a hobby becoming a profitable career. It was the kind of hobby that went from YouTube tutorials to making money with the support of friends and family.

“It means the world to me that friends, family, and customers took the time and effort to nominate me. What may just be one post to them, it means everything to me,” De Casas says. “It means they believe in my dreams, that they support me wholeheartedly. But more so, it’s honestly just reassuring like I can do this, I AM doing this.”

East Los Sweets

Baking was a part of Laura Martinez’s life since she was younger. The LA Central Bakery has been in her family since 1984 and working in a kitchen was never her plan. However, it quickly became where she was the most creative.

Martinez is grateful for the El Pollo Local Grant for giving her a chance, as a one-woman operation, it make investments in her business.

“Since gatherings are on a smaller scale because of Covid, this grant will help me buy equipment that would have taken me twice as long to save up from my orders,” Martinez says. “El pollo grant also provided finance/accounting mentorship that will help me further grow more as a small business.”

Todo Verde

Jocelyn Ramirez is a woman of many talents, including a deep knowledge of plant-based cooking. The college professor, chef, yoga teacher, and businesswoman is on a mission to create delicious plant-based foods deeply rooted in the flavors and techniques of Mexico and South America and they might be coming to a grocery store near you.

“This grant is going to our payroll for our team and will also help us continue to pivot our business,” Ramirez says. “We have been dreaming of launching consumer packaged goods available in grocery stores for the last couple of years, but have been too busy to get it off the ground. Now, we are ready and working with an amazing team to make it all happen!”

Salsaology

Lori Sandoval created Salsaology in 2013 when she was fresh out of college and needed to create a career. She knew that food was the path but didn’t plan on culinary school. With that idea, Salsaology was born in her kitchen.

“The response from our customers and friends was a humbling experience to me and the team. We feel inspired by everyone’s support; it has given us a gust of wind to keep going especially through these difficult times,” Sandoval says. “We really do strive to service and offer our community food that is clean and good for you without compromising our culinary traditions. So when we see this outpour of love and support, it motivates us to keep showing up for our community.”

READ: El Pollo Loco Announces First Round Of Latina Business Owners To Win $10K Grants

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UPS Finally Lifts Its Discriminatory Ban on Natural Black Hairstyles

Things That Matter

UPS Finally Lifts Its Discriminatory Ban on Natural Black Hairstyles

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

UPS is finally catching up with the times and making some broad-ranging changes to various parts of its dress code.

The delivery company announced on Tuesday that it would lift its long-standing restrictions against natural Black hairstyles like locs, braids and afros. In addition, the company is lifting its policy on requiring drivers to be clean-shaven. The company also announced that it would no longer have gender-specific guidelines about dress and appearance–such as putting restrictions on the length of its drivers’ shorts based on their gender.

UPS released a statement saying, “these changes reflect our values and desire to have all UPS employees feel comfortable, genuine and authentic while providing service to our customers and interacting with the general public.”

Per UPS, their decision to finally overhaul the long-detested policy came from their CEO, Carol Tomé, who received feedback from employees that their appearance policies made them less likely to recommend UPS as an employer to potential employees. On a recent conference call, Tomé also announced that UPS would be providing trainings to employees on anti-racisms and how to identify and combat unconscious bias.

While the announcement is obviously a step in the right direction, the change still feels like a long time coming. Back in 2018, UPS was fined $4.9 million by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The lawsuit alleged that UPS’s “strict appearance policy has operated to exclude Muslims, Sikhs, Rastafarians, and other religious groups from equal participation and advancement in the workforce for many years.”

Natural hair discrimination by employees has recently been making national headlines after the CROWN Act was passed as law in seven states. The CROWN Act (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair) prevents employees from discriminating against Black people who wear their hair in natural or protective styles.

Again, while many people were happy with the news, the announcement nevertheless brought up some bittersweet feelings.

The fact that it took UPS so long to change what we now know is a blatantly racist policy doesn’t feel like it should be worth celebrating.

This Twitter user pointed out that UPS’s policies policing Black women’s hair is an example of the insidious nature of structural racism.

Why has it taken UPS 113 years to realize that its policies on employee appearances are discriminatory? Probably because they weren’t even realizing how much the policies penalized Black people for the hair that naturally grows out of their heads in the first place.

This person had a perfect response to people who say “It’s just hair.”

The fact that Black people have to change their natural appearance in order to be earn a living is inherently wrong.

This Twitter user shared his firsthand experience of being subjected to UPS discriminatory “appearance guidelines”.

We wonder how many other people with locs have similar stories. This man wasn’t even allowed to interview for the company–literal gatekeeping at its worst.

This person pointed out that UPS is not the only company to police their Black employees’ natural hair.

UPS is just the tip of the iceberg. There is a still a lot of work to do when it comes to dismantling the structural racism of many companies’ policies.

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