- In response to COVID-19's impact on the economy, the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) and Wells Fargo are amplifying a program created to help small diverse businesses grow. The organizations announced the expansion of the Avanzar Small Business Accelerator program April 27.
- Entrepreneurs in select markets will participate in courses to develop business plans, strategy and leadership skills during the eight-month program. Course topics include building streamlining operations, financial planning, marketing, effective use of social media and how to obtain capital for each business. Wells Fargo provides subject matter experts and access to capital training.
- USHCC Chambers and Hispanic Business Enterprises in the Avanzar program will track performance metrics including jobs created, access to capital and access to contract opportunities. Wells Fargo and the USHCC piloted the program in 2019 in partnership with the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce in New Mexico and the Latin American Chamber of Commerce of Charlotte in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Hispanic households are experiencing the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic at greater rates than other groups, according to research.
A Pew Research Center survey conducted March 19-24 found that about half (49%) of Hispanic respondents said they or someone in their household has taken a pay cut or lost a job or both, in comparison with 33% of all U.S. adults. "Latinos are concerned about the outbreak's broader economic impact on the nation," according to Pew. "The vast majority (90%) say the outbreak is a major threat to the U.S. economy."
In response to the increase in financial risk, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and USHCC launched the Save Latino Businesses campaign April 23. Latino-owned businesses in the U.S. generate $800 billion in revenue, according to the organizations. In a letter to the U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Jovita Carranza and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, USHCC and LULAC requested additional funding and economic relief for minority and Latino-owned small businesses. One of the six economic priorities in the campaign included requiring the top 15 financial institutions who are managing the lending for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to set aside a certain percentage for Hispanic and minority-owned small businesses.
Under the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, signed into law March 27, PPP was created to provide almost $350 billion in partially forgivable loans for small businesses and nonprofits with 500 or fewer employees. However, some banks have been accused of borrower favoritism in PPP lending. Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America are facing a lawsuit filed by small-business owners alleging the banks prioritized larger loans in the PPP, instead of processing applications on a first-come, first-served basis, according to reports from Banking Dive, HR Dive's sister publication. Congress replenished the PPP funds with an additional $310 billion April 27.