Money is the place to find financial guidance and advice to plan your small business or your family’s future including access to capital, and investors.

Keep employees on the payroll with the Employee Retention Credit 

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a tremendous impact on businesses over the past year and a half. Many have struggled through financial difficulties and have had to cut back on employees to stay afloat. To help struggling businesses recover, the Biden-Harris Administration created various recovery programs as part of the American Rescue Plan Act. One program that small businesses should consider taking advantage of is the Employee Retention Credit program.

The Employee Retention Credit (ERC) is a quarterly tax credit against the employer’s share of certain payroll taxes. The tax credit is 70% of the first $10,000 in wages per employee in each quarter of 2021. That means this credit is worth up to $7,000 per quarter and up to $28,000 per year, for each employee. If the amount of the tax credit for an employer is more than the amount of the employer’s share of those payroll taxes owed for a given quarter, the excess is refunded – paid – directly to them. 

These credits are available for all four quarters of 2021 and may deliver cash flow to your business as soon as you claim them. You can file for this credit for every quarter of 2021 on your form 941 filing and may also receive an advance payment of a portion of the credit. This program will be available to businesses through December 2021. 

Employee Retention Credit

Employee Retention Credit program (Graphic source)

You might be interested: How to still apply for Covid-19 Business Tax Credits ending Sept. 30

ERC Eligibility

You can begin to determine whether you are eligible for the Employee Retention Credit for any given quarter by assessing these questions: 

  • Was your business fully or partially shut down due to a governmental order during any part of the quarter? 
  • Or was the business’s gross receipts in a quarter declined more than 20% compared to either (a) the same quarter in 2019 or (b) the immediately preceding quarter in 2020 or 2021? 

If the answer to either question is YES, and the business had 500 or fewer employees, then any wages paid in the quarter may count towards the $10,000 per employee amount. 

Additionally, businesses that received PPP loans in 2020 or 2021 can still claim the ERC. While wages used to apply for PPP loan forgiveness cannot also be claimed as ERC wages, remaining wages may be eligible for the credit.

Certain small businesses that opened after February 15, 2020 may also be eligible for the ERC for the last two quarters of 2021. If these businesses have less than $1 million in annual gross receipts, they may claim ERCs of up to $50,000 per quarter, even if the businesses have not been shut down or experienced declines in revenue.

Small business owners should take advantage of these programs while they still can as many are ending soon. For more information about the BidenHarris Administration’s recovery programs visit: TREASURY.GOV/CORONAVIRUS

New America Alliance, Solange Brooks

New America Alliance CEO Solange Brooks says, “Diversity is one of the elements of success”

Solange Brooks is the CEO of New America Alliance (NAA), a national nonprofit organization committed to building on American Latino success to forge a stronger America and advocate for Latinos in the industry of investment. 

In the second installment of the National Leaders for Latinx Advancement Series, Latinas in Business President and CEO, Susana G Baumann, spoke to Solange to discuss NAA’s various initiatives and how the organization is helping increase capital access for women and minority-owned firms, and accelerate diverse leadership in entrepreneurship, corporate America, and public service.

Access to capital and investing in diverse firms

New America Alliance was founded in 1999 by a small group of successful Latino leaders, including Henry Cisneros, the former US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Their mission was to advance the Latino community in four key areas: education, political awareness, economic empowerment, and philanthropy. 

Today, New America Alliance advocates for all communities of color and women, with a focus on financial services and access to capital for firms. 

“We believe strongly, that access to capital is one of the last bastions of the civil rights movement, and we have to go ahead and address it,” said Solange. 

Access to capital is a crucial first step for any project or venture and minority communities in particular often struggle the most in this area. Without capital, there is little you can do. This is something we know to be true for entrepreneurs and small business owners as well. For this reason, NAA began to expand to include other minority groups and become an even more diverse and inclusive organization. 

“We find that a lot of the things that help us, a lot of the tenets that we started this organization with, apply to too many people in the communities of color,” said Solange. 

One of New America Alliance’s biggest key initiatives is securing access to capital for diverse firms. 

“What we do is we meet with various institutional allocators to basically come and get to know us, get to know the members of NAA, get to know the opportunities they offer,” Solange said, detailing the process. 

“What happens often times is that people think ‘Oh, investing with diverse firms is like a social experiment.’ I’m here to tell you that, no, it isn’t. It’s not a social experiment at all. It’s basically money on the table that institutional investors have been leaving there because they don’t look at what we have, they have to be vetted. So we present opportunities. And we have a good conversation, we get to know the institutional investor a little bit, they get to know us a little bit. And then we circle back with them to see, which is the best way to present our opportunities. So it is not just a meeting that everybody feels good and goes their separate ways. But it’s a meeting where there’s actual engagement, and we have followed through. And this has been very, very successful. We have had people that may, they didn’t know anything about investing with communities of color, all of a sudden calling me and asking me, do you have somebody in infrastructure? Or do you have fixed income folks? And of course, there’s private equity. That’s very, very prevalent right now.” 

Diverse firms with diverse managers and partners are also more likely to bring in better revenue. This is because a diverse management structure prevents groupthink and allows for a greater pool of investment opportunities. 

“It has been proven over and over again that diversity is one of the elements of success…because everybody has different ideas, they have different worldviews,” said Solange.

“If you have everybody that came from the same place, went to the same school, had the same background, you are missing a huge portion of what you can do in investments. So yes, I know it’s right now, it’s very popular to quote diversity and inclusion. However, we, you know, NAA, has been doing that for 21 years. And there have been some institutional investors that this is all they do. And they’ve been having very good results.”

You might be interested: “We need to speak up about social justice” says Prospanica CEO Thomas Savino

NAA advocating for transparency in politics and educational initiatives 

Another key initiative for the New America Alliance is political awareness, specifically advocating for transparency. As a nonpartisan organization, NAA feels strongly about political transparency not only in corporate life but in pension plans. Through town halls and working with key legislators, NAA is pushing for greater transparency. 

“And you say,’ Why?’ Well, pension plans are the people’s money, and the workforce should know how their investments are being made. And they should know that the people in pension plans are doing their absolute best to take advantage of all the opportunities. And you do not know that unless you have a transparent system, where you can go ahead and observe what’s going on and have a dialogue about that,” Solange said. 

The third key initiative is in the area of education, passing on the torch to the next generation through mentorship opportunities. The NAA Institute Pathway Fellowship program is one of the ways NAA is working to guide young leaders. The program is an opportunity to foster and accelerate young leaders among American Latinos, women, and people of color and accelerate that leadership and entrepreneurship in corporate America and in public service. 

“So we have a program where we mentor the various individuals in the summer. And we basically have conversations with them, and they can see how somebody that looks like them is successful, and they’re in the financial services industry. And, you know, my favorite saying is like, ‘Hey, it’s not rocket science, folks. Anybody can learn it, just go to college, focus on math, focus on economics, and you’ll be fine.’ So we’re very excited about that program.”

Watch the full conversation between Susana G Baumann and Solange Brooks. 

For potential investors interested in becoming a member of New America Alliance, there are various advantages to becoming a part of the organization. NAA has a network of people, from large funds to small funds to people just starting out. 

“We help each other. Most definitely, because most of us know what it’s like to begin a business. Or know what it’s like to change strategy, and have to go ahead and discuss those opportunities,” said Solange. 

“One of the great things about investments is that there’s always somebody with a great idea. There’s always somebody new that’s bringing up their idea, and we want to nurture that.” 

Currently, the U.S. Latino population makes up about 18% of the total population and possesses about $1.5 trillion in buying power. The Latino population is also young and still growing.   

“And with all those little points, we are the future of this country. And Financial Services is only one segment where we have incredible value for institutional investors.”

How to still apply for Covid-19 Business Tax Credits ending Sept. 30

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 has provided businesses with various relief efforts. Now, several of these programs are coming to an end September 30, however there is still time for business owners to reap the benefits of the Covid-19 business tax credits before they end. 

Qualifying for Covid-19 business tax credit 

The Covid-19 business tax credits for small businesses provide businesses with dollar-for-dollar reimbursements that employers can use to provide paid sick leave to employees who cannot work due to Covid-19. These tax credits only cover paid leave between April 1, 2021 and September 30, 2021, but those who have not yet filed can do so before October 31, 2021. To receive the tax credit, employers should file Form 941, the Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return,  available on the IRS site. Qualifying businesses that file this form before October 31 will be able to claim credit for the year’s third quarter– July through September. 

A blog post by Rocket Lawyer –a free legal information and consulting site– details the various qualifications for applying along with additional information and legal advising about accessing Covid-19 business tax credits. 

To qualify for the business tax credits, businesses must have fewer than 500 employees. To use the credit, employees’ absence or inability to work must be for reasons related to Covid-19 between April 1, 2021 and September 30, 2021. These reasons including:  

  • Leave taken to get the COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Leave to recover from any illness or condition related to the vaccination.
  • Contracting COVID-19.
  • Caring for family members who have contracted COVID-19.
  • Quarantine periods related to COVID-19.
  • Experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and attempting to get a medical diagnosis or test result.

The credit covers both paid sick leave wages and paid family leave wages up to a certain amount. For paid sick leave wages, the credit covers up to two weeks of leave, up to $511 per day and $5,110 total. For paid family leave wages, the credit covers up to 12 weeks, up to $200 per day and $12,000 total. 

Self-employed individuals may also qualify. For additional details and guidelines visit the IRS.gov

Additional relief resources for small businesses 

While the Covid-19 business tax credits may be ending, there are still many resources for small businesses seeking relief. The Small Business Administration provides information for many COVID-19 relief programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program,  COVID-19 EIDEL, Restaurant Revitalization Fund, and more. 

You may be interested: NJEDA announces Henri and Ida relief grant to support recovery for small businesses 

NJEDA announces Henri and Ida relief grant to support recovery for small businesses 

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) announced the approval of the Henri/Ida Business Assistance Grant Program. The $10.5 million program will provide short-term, immediate rent/mortgage reimbursement in grants of $1,000 to $5,000 for NJ businesses and non-profits that suffered physical damage from the effects of recent tropical storms Henri and Ida.

The NJEDA expects to launch an online application for the program at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, September 17th. 

About the Henri/Ida Grant Program

The Henri/Ida Business Assistance Grant Program will provide support to businesses and non-profits impacted by hurricanes Henri and Ida that have up to 50 full-time equivalent employees as reported on their last WR-30 form (Q2 2021) with the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DOL) and have a commercial location in the State that suffered physical damage as a result of tropical storms Henri and Ida. 

NJEDA

“Countless New Jersey businesses endured the wrath of Tropical Storms Henri and Ida in recent weeks, and today’s action by the NJEDA’s Board will allow us to move swiftly to help those businesses in need,” said Governor Murphy. “Time is clearly of the essence and we are determined to get funds out to businesses and non-profits as quickly as possible.”

Of the $10.5 million, $10 million will be available for businesses and non-profits impacted by Ida and $500,000 will be available for businesses and non-profits impacted by Henri. Additionally, to ensure grants reach the hardest hit communities, including communities of color, one-third of the $10 million in funding will be targeted to businesses with a primary business location within the 715 census tracts designated as eligible to be selected as an Opportunity Zone.

 

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“The NJEDA shares Governor Murphy’s sense of urgency as we work to provide support to small businesses and non-profits dealing with the impact of Henri and Ida,” said NJEDA CEO Tim Sullivan. “The need for assistance is particularly dire, as these storms occurred just as New Jersey was emerging from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s more critical than ever that we do our best to help impacted entities return to normal operations so they may continue their role as the economic drivers of New Jersey’s communities.”

Grant eligibility requirements 

Landlords and home-based businesses are not eligible for grant funding through this program. To be eligible, the applying entity must:

  • Provide certification of an unmet need due to damage and/or business interruption.
    • This includes, but is not limited to, flooding, interior or exterior damage to the building structure, roof damage, and siding damage, all of which are directly related to tropical storm Henri and Ida. Loss of power alone will not be considered physical damage.
  • Provide documentation of physical damage to the applicant’s physical commercial location.
  • Have been in operation on August 1, 2021.
  • Present a valid Employer Identification Number (EIN).
  • Submit recent wage reporting form (WR30), if applicable.
  • Submit evidence of an August rent/mortgage payment of at least $1,000 as well as have a need that is greater than $1,000.
  • Be registered to do business in the State of New Jersey, as evidenced by a valid Business Registration Certificate.
  • Be in good standing with the Department of Taxation and DOL, and if applicable, the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control, the Department of Children and Families, and/or the Department of Human Services.
  • Complete an affidavit identifying all funding sources related to recovery from tropical storms Henri and Ida, including prior grants, insurance, and Small Business Administration loans and grants.
  • Comply with any additional requirements that may apply.

You may be interested: Hurricane Ida leaves vulnerable communities in ruin

Application process

Business owners and non-profit leaders are asked to thoroughly document all physical damage as they prepare to apply for assistance through this and any future programs, including taking clear photographs and saving receipts for repairs and associated materials.

Online applications for the Henri/Ida Business Assistance Grant Program will be available at programs.njeda.com at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, September 17th, 2021.

Applicants who have not applied for NJEDA assistance in the past will need to create a new Username and Password. Applicants who have previously applied for NJEDA COVID-19 relief programs can use their existing Username and Password. The NJEDA encourages anyone considering applying to visit programs.njeda.com prior to September 17th to create a new Username and Password or to verify that they remember their existing Username and Password.

Applications will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis, based upon the date in which the Authority receives a completed application submission.

Businesses whose applications are denied will have the right to appeal. Appeals must be filed within the timeframe set in the declination letter (which must be at least 3 days but no longer than 10 days).

For more information, visit NJEDA Henri and Ida Relief

Why Hispanics are spending more than usual

The pandemic convinced Hispanic-Americans to take their safety seriously – along with financial preparedness.

According to a recent survey conducted by Debt.com en Español, US Latinos and Hispanics are spending more preparing for natural disasters in 2021 than they did in 2020. The reason for the change in financial habits: COVID-19.

The pandemic took everyone by surprise, revealing just how scary life can be when you are not prepared. Now, data finds that Hispanics are spending more than usual to prepare for the unexpected. 

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Financial preparedness post-COVID

As hurricane season continues and wildfires spread throughout the western US, climate change and natural disasters are on everyone’s minds. Like a global pandemic, natural disasters can be devastating and unpredictable.

Even with warnings, one can never know how bad a disaster might be. This is why preparing and planning ahead is crucial. Both businesses and families should have a plan in place for dealing with natural disasters and the aftermath. 

US Hispanics and Latinos seem to have learned this lesson post-COVID. When Debt.com en Español polled more than 1,000 Hispanic and Latino Americans, 3 in 4 said they were either “spending a little more than usual” or “spending at least double” getting ready for hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, blizzards, and earthquakes. Only 1 in 4 said they were spending less than before and all said COVID-19 was directly responsible for their extra spending.

financial preparedness

Natural Disaster Survey 2021. (Image source)

“Even during the pandemic, we saw how Americans were changing their spending and saving habits, often for the better,” says Debt.com chairman Howard Dvorkin, CPA. “Now we’re seeing how long that will last. At least in this one area, for this one year, it’s obvious: COVID-19 took such a terrible and sudden toll, no one wants to be caught unprepared again – for anything.”

Additionally, Debt.com en Espanol’s Natural Disaster Survey revealed that most Hispanic-Americans will also be paying more attention to government warnings. The survey showed that 85% said they will take government warnings more seriously and will prepare much better than they have in the past. 

You might be interested: Damaris Diaz shares pandemic stories and how COVID has impacted the Latino community

Decrease in credit card spending

Survey data from Debt.com also revealed another interesting change in the past year: a decrease in credit card spending post-COVID. The pandemic has made people more aware of their spending and more concerned over accumulating debt.

Now, data shows Americans are charging less to their credit cards, and many believe the decrease in credit card spending will continue post-COVID, especially when it comes to approaching natural disasters. 

financial preparedness

Debt.com post-Covid credit card spending survey results. (Image source)

Financial counselor Howard Dvorkin was particularly intrigued by two survey results. First, for those who have been through a natural disaster before, less than 26% needed to use their credit card to pay for their recovery efforts. Yet those who did need their credit card for recovery efforts spent a significant amount: More than 4 in 10 charged over $500 to a credit card. 

“On the one hand, I’m encouraged that many people could get their lives back to normal without charging extra on their credit cards – because it’s a very expensive form of debt,” Dvorkin said. “On the other hand, I worry about those who charged $500 or more. I suspect some of them are still paying that off, since their interest rate could easily top 20 percent.”

As we move forward, post-pandemic it is important to remember the lessons learned. Financial preparedness will ensure families and businesses have the resources needed to recover whenever a disaster may strike. 

ABOUT: Debt.com is the consumer website where people can find help with credit card debt, student loan debt, tax debt, credit repair, bankruptcy, and more. Debt.com works with vetted and certified providers that give the best advice and solutions for consumers ‘when life happens.’

money managing, budget

Hate budgeting? Key money managing habits to thrive in business and life 

Budgeting, budgeting, budgeting! We’ve all heard about the importance of budgeting before, but many still overlook this crucial money managing practice when it comes to their personal and business finances. 

money managing, budget

Key money managing habits to make your personal and business finances thrive. (Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels)

Budgeting can look different depending on the area of focus. Your personal household budget vs your business budget will prioritize different things. However, at the core, there are also many similarities and the mechanics are the same. 

When you create a budget, you are planning your incoming and outgoing expenses. This core practice is the same for both personal and business budgets. 

Businesses and households that thrive know how to manage their money and keep their expenses in check. By implementing these money managing strategies into your life, you too can thrive and prosper in both business and life. 

Creating a personal spending plan

Often, budgeting begins in response to a financial crisis, however, ideally, budgeting is proactive, not reactive. Instead of being about damage control, it can be about monthly progress and strategic financial planning. 

By creating a personal budget, you and your household can better plan your spending and save for future emergencies or unexpected expenses. 

Budgeting also includes planning for major purchases. By creating a plan for purchasing big-ticket items, there is less potential for financial surprise and unexpected costs down the line. 

Entrepreneur, international speaker, best-selling author, licensed CPA, and a Chartered Global Management Accountant, Sharon Lechter shares key budgeting tips on her blog. Below are her tips to establish a solid personal budget, or as she prefers to call it– a personal spending plan. 

A personal budget should include the following steps

    • Establish your objectives (financial, lifestyle, etc.)
    • List all of your income sources (wages, investments, spousal support etc.)
    • Identify and list all expense categories (housing, auto, groceries, etc), broken into fixed vs. variable
    • Assign amounts to each spending category
    • Allocate savings
    • Account for fluctuations or one-time events
    • Track your progress and make adjustments if necessary

Managing your business budget

Business budgeting follows the same basic principles as personal budgeting, with a few additions. An accurate business budget will help you ensure your business has enough revenue to stay in business and continue to grow, while also giving you an in-depth window into how the business is performing and what to anticipate in the future.

money managing, budgeting, personal and business finances

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels.

Again, Sharon shares her expertise, laying out the core components to include in a basic business budget

Your business budget should include the following:

    • Your sales and revenue
    • Fixed costs (such as rent) and variable costs (raw materials that vary in price)
    • Debt service
    • Account for fluctuations or one-time events
    • Track your progress and make adjustments if necessary

One major difference between business and personal budgets is that in a business budget, forecasting is more crucial. For most people, predicting one’s monthly income is usually simple as income is fairly consistent from month to month. However, in a business, one must pay closer attention to their revenue forecast to plan for the months ahead. 

In a previous post on Latinas in Business, financial service and leadership expert Jesse Torres advised that business owners should sit down to thoughtfully estimate expected cash inflows and outflows. 

“Factors that to consider include the sales cycle, terms and discounts provided to customers, industry delinquency rates, and other factors that may affect the timing of incoming cash.

Similarly, it is necessary to estimate expenses and other cash outlays. This includes the timing of the purchase of equipment, raw materials, and supplies. It also includes the schedule for payment of salaries, taxes, and other day-to-day expenses.”

Business owners can utilize financial resources from SCORE, a national nonprofit support group for small business owners. SCORE provides a free budget template that business owners can use to manage their cash flow.

You might be interested: Financial matters are women reluctant to talk about money?

Budgeting for Unexpected Costs

One area where budgeting really pays off is when you are faced with sudden, unexpected costs. Most of the time, even without budgeting, we tend to know what costs to expect month to month in both our personal and business finances. You know you need to cover your rent, gas, utilities for instance and probably have that money set aside. However, will you be prepared for an unexpected expense such as a car repair? 

The SCORE blog offers budgeting resources to anticipate these unexpected costs and allows you to set aside funds to tackle these challenges when they arise. Marketing Content Manager, Lauryn Johnson breaks down the differences for anticipating unexpected costs for both personal and business budgets: 

At home: Those who are prepared will have sudden expenses covered by a portion of their budget, usually money set aside specifically for “incidentals.” Others may cover these expenses with their “rainy-day” fund. Either way, those who budget and save will be more likely to successfully navigate an unexpected expense without going into debt. The less prepared may end up having to charge the unexpected expense on credit cards, loans, or other high risk methods. 

In business: For most business situations, costs should be considered either fixed or variable. Much like your regularly budgeted personal expenses, fixed costs have to be paid regardless of your profitability each month. Variable costs, however, are where you should have a little more flexibility.

Implementing these budgeting money managing practices in both personal and business finances will help you thrive and prosper in all avenues of life. 

Why more minority founders aren’t backed by venture capital funding

Funding for any new business venture is a critical step that will often determine its ultimate success. Many businesses sink far too early in the process when founders are unable to secure access to capital. Unfortunately, women and minority business owners are more likely to be denied venture capital funding and bank loans compared to white, male founders.  

Why aren’t more minority founders backed by venture capital funding? (Business card photo created by rawpixel.com – www.freepik.com)

According to an article by Forbes, in the past year, only 2.6% of venture dollars went to minorities and 2.2% went to women. In total, that is only $4.2 billion out of the $87.3 billion venture capital was distributed. Additionally, as of January 2021, only 93 Black and 58 Latinx women have ever raised over $1M.

This lack of VC funding for women- and minority-owned businesses is part of an ongoing cycle and diversity issue within the entire venture capital process. The fact of the matter is, diverse venture capitalists (VCs) and limited partners (LPs) will be more likely to invest in diverse founders and entrepreneurs. But so far, these roles have been saturated predominantly by white, male individuals. 

Breaking old patterns 

In an article by Fast Company, Leah Solivan discusses her experiences in securing venture capital funding for her startup and shares ideas on how the old pattern can be broken. In sharing her experience she describes how she first struggled to secure funding because she “didn’t match the pattern.” As a woman and a Latina, these modifiers made her an “other” in the eyes of traditional venture capitalists. She was not the typical founder. 

“VCs had an idea of what successful founders looked like, and they didn’t look like me,” Leah shared in her article. “It took another woman of color hearing my pitch to open up opportunities for me. And that woman, Ann Miura-Ko, was only in a position to say “yes” to me because another VC (Floodgate’s Mike Maples) took a chance on her. As a founder and CEO, I recruited a diverse team of talented individuals who brought different backgrounds and life experiences to the table. Many of these people have gone on to become founders themselves, building their own teams. Others have gone on to become venture capitalists. This is the virtuous cycle of wealth creation in action. And all it took to get it going was one VC deciding to take a chance on someone who didn’t match the pattern.”

This process that she describes is exactly how we can work to break old patterns within the venture capital process. We need diverse LPs who can then fund venture capital funds. And diverse VCs will then seek out and fund diverse founders. These founders can then give opportunities to their diverse team members and employees who can then grow to become their own founders or investors. 

Minority business owners and entrepreneurs, especially Latinos, have great potential to grow and thrive with the right backing. According to the Stanford Research 2020 State of Latino Entrepreneurship Report, Latinos are starting businesses at a faster rate than the national average across several industries, growing 34 percent over the last 10 years compared to just 1 percent for all other small businesses. Additionally, the report showed that over the past two-years, Latino-owned firms grew revenue at an average of 25 percent per year while white-owned businesses grew revenue at 19 percent.

Moreover, much of the growth in the number of new businesses among Latinos has been driven by women. Latinas represent 40% of all Latino business owners and the number of Latina-led employer firms has grown 20% within the last five-year period.

Forbes also reported that in the last year, 40% of new businesses were started by women and 47% of those businesses were started by minority women. 

You might be interested: Dr. Marlene Orozco demystifies misconceptions about Latinas through data 

We need diverse venture capitalists to support diverse founders

“Capital remains in the communities that manage it,” says Ivelisse Rodriguez Simon, Managing Partner of Avante Capital. Earlier this year, Ivelisse spoke as a panelist during Latina in Business’ virtual panel, “Latina Small Business Post-Covid: Recovery Resources and Trends. There she shared trends in investment capital and discussed why many women and minority owned businesses struggle to access capital. 

Ivelisse Rodriguez Simon, Managing Partner of Avante Capital.

There’s about $70 trillion of capital to manage in the United States and only 1% of that capital is managed by women or people of color. So even though women and people of color represent 75% of the US population, we only manage 1% of the capital. And the result of that is that our communities don’t get access to that capital.” 

To break this cycle, we need diverse venture capitalists and limited partners. Ivelisse says that this is an issue Avante has been really committed to. “Not only supporting women and people of color managing businesses but really trying to get women and people of color into this industry to manage capital so that we can go out and find entrepreneurs from our communities and help them grow. Because if there are not many people in my seat that look like us, our people are never gonna get capital,” she says

Don’t miss our Summer Speakers Series and Networking Blast Events throughout August!  Interested in learning how to access business funding for your venture? Sign up for our August 11th workshop, “Resources to Increase Your Business Revenue.” 

While pushing for more diversity throughout the various positions in the venture capital funding process, we also need to hold venture capitalists accountable. It should not only be the job of diverse and minority venture capitalists to fund diverse founders and entrepreneurs. More venture capitalists need to be willing to take risks. After all, is that not the point of “venture” capitalists. 

As Leah Solivan nicely said, “Venture capital was once a business that took big bets on outsiders—it wasn’t long ago that the college drop-out computer nerd cliché was a novel, risky opportunity. As the industry has matured, we’ve defaulted to pattern matching (which too often means young, white males that resemble those once-novel success stories) instead of seeking out founders of different backgrounds, different geographies, different skill sets, and different demographics. Our current cycle tries to play it safe. There’s nothing virtuous about that, and it also runs contrary to the ethos of venture capital—which is about taking a chance on something or someone with the potential for disruption.” 

We need diversity in all stages of the venture capital process. We need to break-down old patterns and biases about what a founder looks like. And we need to hold traditional venture capitalists accountable and push them back to their roots, to take risks on something new, and take a chance on the underdog.

SIA Scotch Whiskey, The Entrepreneurial Spirit Fund,

SIA Scotch Whisky partners with Hello Alice to launch groundbreaking new entrepreneurship fund

Did you know that in the United States, multicultural entrepreneurs have reportedly received only a 2% share of venture capital annually over the last decade? SIA Scotch Whisky, an award-winning spirits brand founded by a first generation Hispanic entrepreneur, is looking to help bridge this gap by partnering with Hello Alice and celebrated activist, actor and producer Wilmer Valderrama to launch The Entrepreneurial Spirit Fund by SIA Scotch. Spearheaded by SIA’s founder Carin Luna-Ostaseski and inspired by her journey of building the brand from the ground up, this initiative aims to challenge conventions and inspire others to achieve the unexpected.

SIA Scotch Whiskey, The Entrepreneurial Spirit Fund,

Carin Luna-Ostaseski and group (PRNewsfoto/SIA Scotch Whisky)

This new grant program will deploy a quarter of a million dollars to multicultural small business owners in need of support, especially after the additional challenges they face because of COVID-19. It will also offer recipients access to mentorship opportunities with SIA’s founder, who is one of the first Hispanic people in history to create a Scotch Whisky, and who faced many challenges during her own entrepreneurship journey. 

SIA Scotch Whiskey, The Entrepreneurial Spirit Fund,

Carin Luna-Ostaseski, Founder of SIA Scotch Whisky (PRNewsfoto/SIA Scotch Whisky)

“SIA Scotch Whisky was born out of passion, determination and perseverance – the same characteristics that drive many other entrepreneurs. As a first generation Cuban American, I experienced so many uphill battles, from securing funding to dealing with regulations and securing investors,” said Carin Luna-Ostaseski. “But, after finally getting crowdfunded on Kickstarter and seeing those first bottles on shelves, I knew my purpose was to help inspire other underrepresented entrepreneurs achieve their dreams too. I am so proud of The Entrepreneurial Spirit Fund and its mission to embrace the cultural diversity that helps define our country.”

The Entrepreneurial Spirit Fund by SIA Scotch launches in partnership with Hello Alice, a free online platform that guides business owners through the growth of their company and matches individuals with the resources to make their dreams a reality.

“Now, more than ever, it’s important to recognize the impact that multicultural small businesses have on their communities,” said Elizabeth Gore, President & Cofounder, Hello Alice. “In the last 10 years, multicultural entrepreneurs have represented over 50% of new businesses started and created 4.7 million new jobs, yet they are largely excluded in funding. We are thrilled to be continuing our support for this community in partnership with SIA Scotch Whisky.”

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SIA Scotch Whiskey, The Entrepreneurial Spirit Fund,

Wilmer Valderrama joins SIA Scotch Whisky (PRNewsfoto/SIA Scotch Whisky)

Additionally, activist, actor and producer Wilmer Valderrama joins The Entrepreneurial Spirit Fund as partner, continuing his ongoing tireless mission to push for diversity and inclusion. “Supporting the progress and perseverance of multicultural entrepreneurs who are trying to achieve their dreams and disrupt the status quo is incredibly important to me. I’m so honored to partner with SIA Scotch Whisky on The Entrepreneurial Spirit Fund and I believe that their work will make a big impact, especially during these difficult times,” said Wilmer Valderrama

The Entrepreneurial Spirit Fund by SIA Scotch will award $10,000 grants to 25 qualifying entrepreneurs who self-identify as people of color, for a total of $250,000. To apply, visit siascotchfund.helloalice.com. To be eligible, the business owner must be a citizen or legal permanent resident of the United States, 25 years or older, and must operate in at least one of the following states where SIA is sold: California, Florida, Illinois, Nevada, New York and/or Texas. For complete eligibility criteria and important restrictions, visit the application site. Applications are open now through August 10, 2021, grant recipients will be announced by September 14, 2021 and funding will be distributed by October 8, 2021.

forced sterilization

California sets aside $7.5 million in reparations to victims of forced sterilization

California follows Virginia and North Carolina as the third state to compensate victims of the eugenics forced sterilization movement that peaked in the 1930s, setting aside $7.5 million in reparations to victims. 

forced sterilization

Among one of the first states to begin forcibly sterilizing people in the early 1900s, California sterilized more than 20,000 people before its law was repealed in 1979. (Photo by Martha Dominguez de Gouveia on Unsplash)

The nonprofit, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice (CLRJ) has been a key leader in pushing for reparations. As an organization, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice is committed to honoring the experiences of Latinas/xs to uphold their dignity, bodies, sexuality, and families. They build Latinas’/xs’ power and cultivate leadership through community education, policy advocacy, and community-informed research to achieve reproductive justice.

“We must address and face our horrific history,” said Lorena Garcia Zermeño, policy and communications coordinator for the advocacy group California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, in a statement to the Associated Press. “This isn’t something that just happened in the past.”

Indeed, the history of forced sterilization in California is not as far in the past as many may think. Among one of the first states to begin forcibly sterilizing people in the early 1900s, California sterilized more than 20,000 people before its law was repealed in 1979. 

However, the Center for Investigative Reporting exposed in 2013 that 144 women in prison were coerced by the state into sterilization procedures between 2005 and 2013. 

California’s proposal for reparations to victims of forced sterilization will also include these women since most of these incarcerated individuals were not given proper counsel, offered alternative treatments, or able to give informed consent to these procedures. 

 

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Facing a horrific chapter in our country’s reproductive healthcare history 

The forced sterilization of thousands by the state cannot be forgotten. It is a horrific chapter in our country’s reproductive healthcare history that needs to be acknowledged. California’s eugenics law enacted in 1909 was one of the first in the United States and it was not the only. Other states, such as Indiana and Washington soon followed and over two dozen states would pass similar laws in the subsequent years.

The law allowed medical officials to order the forced sterilization of people they deemed “feebleminded” or otherwise unfit to have children. Most of these individuals were poor, disabled,  or suffered from untreated psychiatric disorders and a disproportionate number were people of color. They all ranged in age with some as young as 13. Those who supported the eugenics law believed they were improving society by preventing “undesirables” from having children, hoping that forced sterilization would lead to fewer “defective” residents in state care. 

These procedures lasted for seven decades with over 20,000 victims and it’s scale and efficiency was noticed abroad, inspiring similar practices in Nazi Germany

“The promise of eugenics at the very earliest is: ‘We could do away with all the state institutions — prisons, hospitals, asylums, orphanages,'” Paul Lombardo, a law professor at Georgia State University and an expert on the eugenics movement told the Associated Press. “People who were in them just wouldn’t be born after a while if you sterilized all of their parents.”

144 women in prison were coerced by the state into sterilization procedures between 2005 and 2013. (Photo by Kelli McClintock on Unsplash)

This chapter of forced sterilization in California supposedly ended in 1979 with the repeal of the eugenics law. However, we now know sterilizations continued in California prisons appearing to date in 1999 when the state changed its policy for unknown reasons to include “tubal ligation” as part of inmates’ medical care. These coerced procedures continued into the next decade, until 2014 when a state law passed banning sterilization for the purpose of birth control at state prisons and local jails. Facilities are now required to report any “medically necessary” sterilization procedures–which are still allowed under the new law–such as removing cancer or other life-threatening conditions. 

Remembering the victims 

The $7.5 million in reparation to the victims of forced sterilization in the state of California is a good first step in making amends. Under the proposed plan, of the $7.5 million, more than $4 million will go toward the actual payouts. Each survivor is expected to receive about $25,000. 

“I don’t know if it is justice. Money doesn’t pay for what happened to them. But it’s great to know that this is being recognized,” said Stacy Cordova, the niece of Mary Franco, a victim who was sterilized in 1934 when she was just 13 years old. 

Relatives like Stacy are not eligible for the payments, only direct victims. However she says, “For me, this is not about the money. This is about the memory.”

Remembering her aunt, she recalls how Mary Franco loved children and always wanted a family. Paperwork described her as “feeble minded” because of “sexual deviance,” according to Stacy, who has researched her case. Stacy said her aunt was actually molested by a neighbor and her family put Mary in an institution to protect the family’s reputation. She, unfortunately lived a lonely life in a Mexican culture that revered big families, Stacy said.

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Of the remaining funds, $1 million will go toward paying for plaques and markers honoring victims. The remainder of the funds–approximately $2 million will cover an extensive outreach campaign to locate living victims which advocates predict will be difficult. Of the victims, only a few hundred are believed to still be alive. Including the inmates who were most recently sterilized, there are about 600 estimated individuals eligible for reparations. 

However, advocates predict only about 25% of eligible people will ultimately apply for reparations and be paid. The $2 million will be used by California’s Victim Compensation Board to run the program and advertising to locate victims in addition to poring through state records.