Relationship Counseling Needed to Solve the Love-Hate Relationship Between Small Businesses & Debt

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darrell byersBy Jennifer Rodriguez
President & CEO
The Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GPHCC) 

GPHCC is a local partner in Accelerate Latinx powered by Interise

As the President & CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber, I am concerned every time I hear small business owners who want to scale their business reject debt as a tool for growth. Why is debt so misunderstood? 

I will not forget a very successful Latina entrepreneur speaking at a panel about her ambition to sell products to Walmart, yet, her scaling plans did not include any form of debt. I remember thinking, not only that it would be nearly impossible to self-finance that level of growth, but also, that she had probably missed many opportunities along the way, simply because debt was not part of her entrepreneur’s toolbox.  

I often advise business owners that debt comes in many shapes and sizes and that what is appropriate depends on their needs and the stage of growth.  

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Latinx Businesses: Getting the capital to grow

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In 2013, David Sanchez started his business, 10 Management, a Chicago-based, integrated talent management firm representing models, hair and makeup artists, photographers, and social media influencers. "I bootstrapped to start the business,” says David. “I saved about $30,000, and I did that through modeling before I started the company. I just self-funded it. I've always been self-sufficient.” 

Bootstrapping through startup is common among today’s Latinx entrepreneurs: Nearly half of currently operating Latinx-owned businesses were started in the past six years, most relying on personal savings or funding support from friends and family. 

While Latinx-owned businesses have undergone tremendous growth - one in four new US businesses are Latinx-owned, contributing over $700 billion in annual revenue to the economy - these businesses are starting faster, but staying smaller: Latinx-owned companies are twice as likely as white-owned employer firms to be microenterprises, or firms with $100,000 or less in annual revenues.

Latinx-owned businesses face significant hurdles in securing the capital needed to grow, according to a report published by Interise, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative

  • They bear greater personal financial risk, related to lower credit scores and limited credit histories;
  • face significant financial challenges due to the racial and ethnic wealth gap;
  • and report a lack of financial knowledge and know-how.

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Bridging the Wealth Gap: 2019 Update

2019 update bridging wealthgap

At the 2018 US Conference of Mayors (USCM) Annual Conference, USCM and Interise presented a joint paper entitled Bridging the Wealth Gap, which analyzed one of the most challenging situations facing America today. The paper highlighted the need for more focused and systemic approaches to closing the wealth gap, particularly by encouraging and supporting small business entrepreneurship and ownership.

At the 2019 USCM Annual Conference taking place this week in Honolulu, Hawaii, Interise  presents updated data that shows that the wealth gap persists.

  • The richest 10% of households hold 70% of total household wealth, most of which is in high yielding stocks and mutual fund investments.
  • Most of the wealth in the bottom 90% comes from a single source: home ownership. However, home equity was significantly reduced during the Great Recession and is still recovering in some areas.
  • Many households in the bottom 90% have negative wealth--they have more debt than assets--which is particularly true for black and Latinx households.

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The Wealth Gap: Beyond the Headlines

darrell byersBy Darrell Byers
Interise CEO

In the United States, we have wider disparities of wealth between rich and poor than any other major developed nation. This gap is wide – and growing.

As I am writing, I am reading headlines about how unemployment is at a record low. But look beyond the headlines and you’ll find that almost all the US jobs created since 2005 are temporary jobs. What’s more, unemployment remains at 15-20% in economically distressed communities. As far back as national job numbers go in the US, black unemployment has consistently been approximately twice the rate of joblessness for white people.

“Record low unemployment” doesn’t tell the full story.

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StreetWise 'MBA'™ Launches in East Boston

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This month, Interise launched our Boston-based StreetWise ‘MBA’™. The cohort, held in East Boston, provides executive education to the owners of established small businesses that are minority-owned and/or located in a low- or moderate-income community.

Interise's StreetWise 'MBA'™ (now available in 70+ cities nationwide) has been delivered in Boston for over 15 years. Since 2004, 16 cohorts and over 200 local companies have taken the program.

"We expect amazing results from you," said Darrell Byers, new CEO of Interise, to the program's participants at the East Boston kickoff event. "There's going to be hard work involved, but it will pay off in the end. We have the proof."

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Celebrating Small Business Week: The Secrets to Small Business Staying Power


During National Small Business Week, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) recognizes the staying power of America’s small businesses to create 21st century jobs, drive innovation, and increase America's global competitiveness.

But it’s not easy. According to the SBA, approximately half of all businesses fail by their fifth year.

We interviewed Interise alumni business owners chosen by the SBA as 2019 Small Business Person of the Year to get insights on how their company avoided becoming part of this statistic.

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