SBA Reaching Out To Hispanic Community
BY Matt Quinn
July 2, 2004 -- Sometimes it's the little things that make a big difference. At least, that's what the Small Business Administration is hoping when it comes to being a resource the Hispanic business community can actually use.
In its latest efforts to be more accessible to Hispanics, the SBA has published four new informational brochures in Spanish, which cover the basics of entrepreneurship and accessing SBA resources. They are available both online and at resource partners such as the Small Business Development Centers and Women's Business Centers.
The Hispanic business community has swelled in its importance to the U.S. economy in recent years. Its 2 million businesses are expected to produce $273 billion in revenue in 2004, according to research group HispanTelligence. The firm also projects those numbers will grow to 3.2 million businesses and $465 billion in revenue by 2010.
The SBA began focusing on the Spanish-speaking community in the last two years, according to Raul Cisneros, a spokesman for the SBA. The centerpiece of that focus is its all-Spanish Web site, www.negocios.gov, which launched in September 2002.
"Before, there was information in Spanish," said Cisneros, "but it was all over the place. We decided that it should be centralized."
Nearly $940 million in SBA-backed loans were issued to Hispanic businesses in 2003, according to Cisneros. The more than 6,100 loans represented an almost 43 percent increase over 2002. Cisneros estimated that the number of loans to Hispanic business owners is up 20 to 30 percent year-to-date.
The SBA's efforts have been done under the leadership of Administrator Hector Barreto, who is Hispanic and bilingual.
While there is not a specific point of contact for Hispanics within the SBA, Cisneros said that its offices are staffed with bilingual agents on the local level where necessary.
MATT QUINN contributes to the Wall Street Journal's corporate finance blog. He has also written extensively about banking and corporate finance for publications including Inc., American Banker, and Financial Week. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.