By Connie Evans
WASHINGTON - After Noemi Prado had devoted 29 years to working for Southwest Moulding in Grand Prairie, TX, the owners decided to close the business. But Ms. Prado gathered her retirement savings and other financing to purchase the company, a transaction that has sustained and created jobs for 40 people in her community.
A key aspect of the financing was a $825,000 loan that she received from the Valley Economic Development Corporation’s (VEDC), a non-profit organization that provides affordable business assistance services, direct financial assistance, and entrepreneurial training to minority businesses and entrepreneurs. “If it wasn’t for VEDC, it wouldn’t have happened,” Ms. Prado said, noting that it was difficult to obtain traditional bank financing.
Research by the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) shows that a large percentage of people want to be like Ms. Prado and run their own businesses. At the same time, however, many would-be entrepreneurs lack the access to mentors, capital and support networks that could help them get up and running.
That’s the problem our nation faces.
Small businesses are actually creating a higher percentage of new jobs than big companies, but entrepreneurs and small business owners struggle to get the access to capital and the knowledge, known as ’trusted guidance’ in the microbusiness industry, that they need to start or sustain their businesses. The reality is that significant barriers limit opportunities for business owners of color. They face discrimination in the banking world, have fewer wealth assets, and often lack the technical skills, like financial management, to make their dreams and aspirations come true.
Yet, there are new developments that are slowly changing the landscape for minority entrepreneurs and small business owners.