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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.”

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.”

You might be interested: Say ‘Hello Alice’ to the platform that is opening doors for small businesses and new entrepreneurs

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.

capital access, lban

Don’t miss this Free Resources for Small Businesses Webinar! 

Don’t miss the next session of the Latino Business Action Network (LBAN)  virtual 6-part series supported by Bank of America, “Resources That Matter for Latinx Entrepreneurs During These Times of Uncertainty.” The 6 part series is designed for entrepreneurs and key members of their team and covers important topics such as economic market forecast, capital access, customer acquisition, resource building, and networking. 

capital access

Resources That Matter: Session 3: All about capital Part 2

The next FREE webinar will stream on Thurs, June 24 at 1pm PST / 4pm EST. This upcoming session is a continuation of last month’s conversation on capital access and financial resources. 

Register Now! Session 3: Capital Access Part 2 – June 24th 

What is the impact of not having a banker?

“‘Have a banker before you need a banker’ is one of the best pieces of advice as it relates to capital,” LBAN says. “Capital is a key component in a company’s ability to scale. Unfortunately, not having an established lender is one of the barriers to accessing capital. In addition, we know that Latino-owned businesses are less likely to get their funding needs to be met. The research findings in Ongoing Impact of COVID-19 on Latino-owned Businesses found that 17% of Latino-owned businesses reported that they lacked an established banking provider that prevented them from accessing Round 1 of PPP funding in 2020.” 

This series will help you learn first hand from lenders about how to identify quality bankers and how to continuously engage with them in a way that builds a strong relationship, ensuring the best opportunity for your capital needs. In addition, participants will learn how to structure a one-page funding request, describing their company, their capital needs, and their deployment strategy. 

Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to gain crucial capital insights and knowledge to help your business grow and propel you forward in 2021 and beyond. 

You might be interested: Latina Leaders share small business post-Covid recovery resources 

Biden-Harris Administration unveils plan to build black wealth and narrow racial divide 

Earlier this month, on the centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre, the Biden-Harris Administration unveiled their plan to build black wealth and narrow the racial wealth gap in the United States. 

A history of systemic racism in the United States has contributed to the large wealth gap that people of color currently face. Systemic racism, also referred to as structural or institutional racism, is defined as “a system in which public policies, institutional practices, cultural representations, and other norms work in various, often reinforcing ways to perpetuate racial group inequity,” according to the Aspen Institute. Systemic racism is not something “a few people or institutions choose to practice.” It is ingrained in our social, economic, and political systems and has adapted over time. It identifies the parts of our history and culture that have historically privileged “whiteness” while subjecting people of color to unjust disadvantages. 

Historically, systemic racism has impacted the ability of Black Americans to secure afforable housing, education, health care, and employment due to unjust biases and discrimination. A study by Citigroup found that in the past 20 years alone systemic racism has cost the U.S. a whopping $16 trillion

The Biden-Harris Administration’s new plan will take measures to address the key issues impacting Black wealth in efforts to close the racial wealth gap and build back Black wealth. 

Adam Schultz, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Biden-Harris Administration to build back black wealth 

In a detailed press release, the Biden-Harris Administration outlined key areas their plan will tackle. The plan will: 

  • Take action to address racial discrimination in the housing market, including by launching a first-of-its-kind interagency effort to address inequity in home appraisals, and conducting rulemaking to aggressively combat housing discrimination.
  • Use the federal government’s purchasing power to grow federal contracting with small disadvantaged businesses by 50 percent, translating to an additional $100 billion over five years, and helping more Americans realize their entrepreneurial dreams.

Attitudes and policies that undermine equal access are the root of the racial gaps plaguing U.S. society (Source: Citi Research).

Additionally, the Administration plans to create jobs and build wealth in communities of color through various initiatives that will help support small minority owned businesses including: 

  • A new $10 billion Community Revitalization Fund to support community-led civic infrastructure projects that create innovative shared amenities, spark new local economic activity, provide services, build community wealth, and strengthen social cohesion.
  • $31 billion in small business programs that will increase access to capital for small businesses and provide mentoring, networking, and other forms of technical assistance to socially and economically disadvantaged businesses seeking to access federal contracts and participate in federal research and development investments.
  • $15 billion for new grants and technical assistance to support the planning, removal, or retrofitting of existing transportation infrastructure that creates a barrier to community connectivity, including barriers to mobility, access, or economic development.
  • A new Neighborhood Homes Tax Credit to attract private investment in the development and rehabilitation of affordable homes for low- and moderate-income homebuyers and homeowners. 
  • $5 billion for the Unlocking Possibilities Program, an innovative new grant program that awards flexible and attractive funding to jurisdictions that take steps to reduce needless barriers to producing affordable housing and expand housing choices for people with low or moderate incomes.

You might be interested: Black History Month: Steps toward dismantling systemic racism in the U.S. 

Investing in Black-Owned Small Businesses 

Access to capital and resources are common struggles many small business owners face, but the struggle is greater for Black small business owners who must go through the extra hurdles set in place by discriminatory racial biases. 

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Through two key measures the Biden-Harris Administration will work to address these disadvantages. 

Using the Government’s purchasing power to drive an additional $100 billion to Small Disadvantaged Business Owners: The federal government is the largest consumer of goods in the world, buying everything from software to elevator services to financial and asset management, Federal procurement is one of our most powerful tools to advance equity and build wealth in underserved communities. And yet, just roughly 10 percent of federal agencies’ total eligible contracting dollars typically go to small disadvantaged businesses (SDB), a category under federal law for which Black-owned, Latino-owned, and other minority-owned businesses are presumed to qualify. Increasing federal spending with these businesses will help more Americans realize their entrepreneurial dreams and help narrow racial wealth gaps. 

At its center is a new goal: increasing the share of contracts going to small disadvantaged businesses by 50 percent by 2026—translating to an additional $100 billion to SDBs over the 5-year period. To achieve this goal, agencies will assess every available tool to lower barriers to entry and increase opportunities for small businesses and traditionally-underserved entrepreneurs to compete for federal contracts. The impact could be historic: all told, attainment of the new goal will represent the biggest increase in SDB contracting since data was first collected more than 30 years ago.

Invest $31 Billion to Scale Up Efforts to Support Minority-Owned Small Businesses: Too many small businesses owned by people of color struggle to access loans and federal programs that can help them grow and succeed.  President Biden has proposed a historic effort to tackle these persistent challenges and empower small business creation and expansion in communities of color. Specifically, the President’s American Jobs Plan will invest $30 billion in new Small Business Administration (SBA) initiatives that will reduce barriers to small business ownership and success.  These initiatives will increase access to capital by establishing a new direct loan program for the smallest businesses, developing new loan products to support small manufacturers and businesses that invest in clean energy, and launching a new Small Business Investment Corporation that will make early stage equity investments in small businesses with priority for those owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. The American Jobs Plan will also invest billions of dollars in SBA technical assistance programs that incubate and offer mentoring and technical assistance to 8(a) firms, reinforce the American subcontracting network to create pathways to prime contracting, encourage Fortune 500 firms to diversify their procurements, and bring more socially and economically disadvantaged businesses into federal research and development programs.  These investments will also include an innovative new $1 billion grant program through the Minority Business Development Agency that will help minority-owned manufacturers access private capital.

Through these efforts, Black-owned small businesses will have greater opportunities to realize their dream and goals. There is still much work to do before the longstanding effects of systemic racism are fully eradicated, but the plan unveiled by the Biden-Harris Administration is a first step in the right direction toward building back black wealth and narrowing the racial wealth gap and achieving equality in the United States. 

Latino Business Action Network

LBAN presents: “Resources That Matter: All about capital”

Don’t miss the next session of the Latino Business Action Network (LBAN)  virtual 6-part series supported by Bank of America, “Resources that Matter.” The series covers important topics such as economic market forecast, capital access, customer acquisition, resource building, and networking. 

Latino Business Action Network

Next virtual session May 27, from 1 PM – 2:30 PM PST. (Graphic courtesy LBAN).

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Latino-owned businesses used resilience, creativity, and innovation to survive. Today, the US economy is rebounding and experts are projecting an 8% growth in GDP.  What does that mean for small businesses? It means that small businesses can and should grow in 2021!

Access to capital is a critical component for growth.  We know there are existing barriers to accessing capital. The 2020 Ongoing Impact of COVID-19 on Latino-owned Business report identified a lack of banking relationship, and a lack of required application materials accounted for 39% of the barriers to accessing PPP.

Latino Business Action Network is committed to breaking down those barriers. Join two free webinars to learn the capital resources that will position you for future growth.  In these webinars you will understand the capital landscape, the types of products applicable for your company, how to leverage technology to ensure proper financial documentation, how to build a relationship with a lender, and how to create a one-pager for your company.  In addition, you will have the opportunity to network with growth-minded business owners from across the country.

You might be interested: Latina Leaders share small business post-Covid recovery resources 

The 6-part series is designed for entrepreneurs and key members of their team. From this series, you will hear from industry leaders, learn about essential resources, capital education, network with other growth-minded entrepreneurs, and you will inherit a growth perspective that will propel you in 2021 and beyond. 

Mark your calendar for May 27th at 1 pm PST and June 8th at 1 pm PST to gain the capital tools and resources so that you are best prepared for accessing capital and positioned for growth.  

Latino Business Action Network

Register today for the next virtual session!

Latino Business Action Network (LBAN)

The Latino Business Action Network (LBAN) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the United States by empowering Latino business leaders to grow substantial firms that create jobs. Our goal to double the number of $10+ million, $100+ million, $1+ billion Latino-owned businesses in the U.S.by 2025. LBAN collaborates with Stanford University to champion the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative (SLEI).

How American Rescue Plan Act will help minority-owned small businesses recover post-COVID

The American Rescue Plan Act will help small businesses recover post-COVID by providing critical assistance to businesses across the country and delivering $50 billion in aid and relief. 

Minority-owned businesses have struggled to get small-business relief loans 

The COVID-19 pandemic brought on great financial difficulties for businesses across the nation. Small businesses were greatly affected, with women- and minority-owned small businesses hit the hardest. 

Photo by Gene Gallin on Unsplash

Since last April, workers of color have faced the highest rates of pandemic-related unemployment. Data shows that Black and Latino people are now facing greater rates of unemployment than during the 2008 Great Recession. Minority-owned small businesses have also faced greater difficulties accessing capital and relief loans. 

The Paycheck Protection Program, which launched in March 2020, has now become the largest small-business support program in U.S. history, sending $734 billion in forgivable loans to struggling companies. It has helped nearly 7 million businesses stay afloat, but it has also been plagued by complex, ever-changing rules that have hindered many businesses from getting much needed relief loans. 

Many of the businesses affected by the changing rules and confusion have been minority-owned businesses. From language barriers to unfair biases, minority business owners have struggled to gain access to capital and bank loans from major banks. Many have since turned to their communities and smaller, local banks to find relief, but new changes to the program under President Biden are now pushing to funnel more money toward women- and minority-led businesses. 

You might be interested: PPP Loan forgiveness: $50,000 loans for small business and self-employed

Changes to PPP and SBA loans under the American Rescue Plan 

New Funding and Changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The bill includes $7.25 billion in additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and changes eligibility for the PPP, including:

  • Expanding eligibility for 501(c) nonprofits. It also makes local offices of larger nonprofits eligible for PPP assistance as long as those locations are not larger than 500 employees for first PPP loans or 300 employees for second PPP loans, expanding access to vital relief for nonprofit organizations that are critical to local services and the economy.
  • 1st PPP Draw loan deadline: on or before 31 May 2021 (businesses must have been in business from 15 Feb 2020)

PPP loans have:

  • A fixed interest rate of 1% that is non-compounding and non-adjustable
  • No requirement for collateral or personal guarantees
  • No fees or prepayment penalties
  • A 5 year maturity

New Programs per the American Rescue Plan Act

Supplemental Targeted EIDL Advance Payment: 

  • A $5 Billion fund for $5k payments to those hardest hit

Restaurant Revitalization Fund & Grants – Coming soon

  • A $28.6 billion fund for grants to eligible entities in this hard-hit industry
  • Max $5 million grant/location and aggregate max $10mil grant

lack of access to capital

How to Apply 

If you have a small business and would like to apply for any of these SBA programs, visit www.sba.gov to learn more about COVID-19 Small Business Guidance and Loan Resources. Under SBA’s Coronavirus Relief Options page, you can learn about how to apply for a variety of programs including: 

  1. Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) 
  2. Economic Interruption Disaster Loan (EIDL) 
  3. SBA Express Bridge Loans 
  4. SBA Debt Relief for 7(a), 504, & Microloans 
  5. Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program

Steps to finding a lender:

Need more help? Check out our other PPP resources

fund, funding, money

NJ FAM Fund Created to Support NJ Latinx and Black Businesses

Last week, eight mayors from urban cities announced the creation of the NJ FAM (New Jersey 40 Acres and a Mule Fund), with the collective goal of putting capital directly in the hands of New Jersey’s Black and Latinx business owners and communities, which traditionally have suffered the greatest barriers in access to financial resources.

fund, funding, money

Photo by Gabby K from Pexels

The new initiative stems from the Newark FAM Fund (Newark 40 Acres and a Mule Fund), which was introduced in September 2020 as a private investment vehicle seeking to raise $100 million to combat and reduce social and economic inequalities resulting from systemic racism. The pandemic and continued interest in the fund from across New Jersey has led to the expansion of the program into a statewide initiative.

The NJ FAM Fund was created by a partnership of eight mayors from cities in New Jersey, with assistance from New Jersey Community Capital (NJCC) and from an advisory board. The new initiative will operate with collaboration from eight cities across New Jersey: Newark, Orange, East Orange, Paterson, Camden, Trenton, Irvington, and Atlantic City.

“While the racial wealth gap is a national struggle, it is especially salient in Newark. Minority businesses have always faced more roadblocks than their counterparts and the pandemic has only worsened the issue. The NJ FAM Fund aims to help these businesses reach their full potential in these tumultuous times,” said Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka. “These investments will be a tremendous tool for the minority business community in Newark and we are incredibly grateful for this generous support.”

“The past year has been extremely difficult and put a spotlight on the racial wealth gap that exists in our country, but we cannot pretend that this problem is something new,” said Bernel Hall, managing partner of the New Jersey FAM Fund. “We look forward to expanding this initiative as partners come to the table. Through the Fund, our goal is to help Black and Latinx business owners and developers to expand their operations, create jobs and generate wealth for the communities that they serve.”

“When the difference in median net worth between White families and Black/Latinx families is nearly 200%, that is much more than a social disparity. That kind of gap is representative of the inequitable financial policies that have kept Black and Latinx businesses and families behind the national curve for decades,” said Mayor Ted R. Green of East Orange. “This initiative is how we start to bring balance to the communities that have been devastated the most. This is how we make amends and bring generational wealth into our communities.”

“We’re proud to stand with Mayor Baraka and other city leaders who understand that an equitable business environment is crucial to maintaining the diverse identity of our urban communities,” said Mayor Reed Gusciora of Trenton. “Despite decades of institutional and financial obstacles, many of our Black and Latino residents still put in the hard work to become entrepreneurs. We need programs like the one announced today to help make sure those historical challenges are not an impediment to their long-term success.”

The name of the fund comes from one of the earliest Reconstruction promises to the newly freed slaves of 1865, to provide freshly emancipated families with “40 acres and a mule” on land along the South Carolina, Georgia and Florida coasts following the Union winning the Civil War. The radical proposal was issued on Jan. 16, 1865, and the initiative was inspired after Union General William T. Sherman and Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton met with 20 Black ministers four days earlier. Had the policy been fully implemented and enforced, former slaves would have had a chance to be self-sufficient economically, to build, accrue and pass on wealth. However, the promise was not realized for the majority of the nation’s former slaves, and President Andrew Johnson, a sympathizer for the South, overturned the policy in the fall of 1865.

According to the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, the median net worth of New Jersey’s white families is $309,000, while the median for New Jersey’s Latinx and Black families is just $7,020 and $5,900, respectively—one of the worst racial wealth gaps in the nation. The objective of the NJ FAM fund is to close these gaps by providing Black and Latinx business owners with a more level playing field with their competitors.

leader

Fatima Pearn received Latina Leader Award at the 2019 Latina SmallBiz Expo

Fatima Pearn was honored with the Latina Leader Award at the 2019 Latina SmallBiz Expo and Pitch Competition where she also participated as a guest judge. As the current VP Business Development Office at Valley Bank, Fatima has had a lengthy and successful career in banking. She has shown exemplary skills and has acted as a leader and mentor to others while contributing to the expansion and success of multiple banks throughout her 15+ years in the banking industry. Taking to the stage to accept her award, she shared some of her professional journey, inspiring those in the audience with her success story. 

leader

Fatima Pearn, Vally Bank, receives the Latina Leader Award from Susana G Baumann, Latinas in Business Inc.

Working up from the bottom

Fatima’s banking career began in 1989 at First Fidelity Bank where she worked in the Import and Export Department. After only two years, she put her own career on hold to help her husband at the time with his own business. The couple later divorced, leaving Fatima to support two young boys as a single mother. The four years that followed were difficult, with Fatima working multiple jobs to support her children. Then, in 2001, Fatima decided it was time to make a significant career change.  

“I needed to make a change in my life and start thinking about a new career,” says Fatima. “A career that would give my family and I better health benefits, and also allow me to contribute to a retirement plan.” 

leader

Fatima Pearn accepting the Latina Leader Award during the WINNERS Reception at the 2019 Latina SmallBiz Expo

Fatima decided the best option would be to return to banking, since she already had some previous experience in the field. When an opportunity as a Teller opened up at PNC Bank, Fatima took a chance and applied. 

“I wanted to learn the retail banking industry from the bottom up,” she says. 

Never having pursued a formal higher education, Fatima gained all her expertise by learning on the job from mentors and taking specific courses and accreditations in her field. Beginning from the bottom helped Fatima quickly learn the ins and outs of the banking world and soon became a leader to others.  

New love and opportunities

During this same time, Fatima remarried to the love of her life. Her husband had two children of his own, and together they raised their four children before growing their family with another child together, a baby boy, who is now fourteen years old and a blessing to their lives. Fatima’s husband and their children gave her the drive to better herself and encouraged her to further grow her banking career.  

Soon Fatima was promoted from Teller to Financial Sales Consultant, and then in 2005 she was offered the opportunity to be a Business Development Officer by her Team Leader. This position put her in charge of five branches in Essex and Hudson County with book of business to grow. 

“My job was just to bring new business to the bank and close a minimum of $5 Million dollars in new money in lending, C&I, owner-occupied, Loc and Investment Real estate,” says Fatima. “The first question my Team Leader asked me was: Where do you think you are going to target new clients? I thought about it for a couple of days and got back to him with a plan.” 

Her plan involved three steps. First she did research on Reference USA. Then she reached out to her husband’s relative who was a fireman in Kearny at the time. She asked him if he could share a list of new businesses that opened in Kearny from January to that date. Lastly, she registered to be a member of the Kiwanis, Rotaries and the Chamber of Commerce in the area. This plan proved to be successful as one year later, Fatima was invited to be the Treasurer by the Portuguese American Chamber of Commerce in Newark.

“I also took private lessons to learn the basics on how to play golf in order to be able to participate on golf outings at the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce,” Fatima says. 

After a few months, she started showing great results in her position, and she worked with her retail partners and loan officers to have client appreciation days at their branches after work hours. These events made their clients feel appreciated which lead to the building of Center of Influences (COI’s) for the business.  

Conquering language barriers

Being a Latina has also been incredibly instrumental in Fatima’s success, opening her up to many opportunities to expand her relationships in her career. 

“I was able to connect with many different cultures because of my background and the connections I was making in my community,” says Fatima. 

Her Latina background was especially helpful when it came to language connections. While working in Kearny, Fatima was the only employee who was able to speak Spanish and Portuguese. This allowed Fatima to bring in a lot of new business and relationships to the bank that otherwise would not have been possible due to language barriers. And Fatima knows all too well the struggles of working around a language barrier.  

“When I first came to the USA, I didn’t speak English and it was hard to adjust,” says Fatima reflecting back on her early beginnings. “I worked hard and connected with American people to learn the language. It was very challenging, but also would up being very rewarding.” 

Now Fatima is able to give back and help connect with clients who do not speak English or are not as confident with the language yet. This unique opportunity has driven Fatima to success and has also made her very proud of her past and where she started from. 

“Be proud of your past and who you are today,” says Fatima, “keep working hard, reach out to those around you to gain support as well as provide support. You can be successful in your profession too.”

leader

The Valley Bank Team (L to R) Sofia Cordero, Fatima Pearn and Dorothy Kahlau,
First Sr VP
Valley National Bank

Being a leader to others

Following her time working at Provident Bank in Kearny, Fatima’s reputation as a leader and successful worker offered her multiple opportunities in the years that followed, such as the position of Assistant VP Business Banker II at PNC Bank in 2007. She worked there for eight years managing a book of business with over a hundred clients which grew her book of business to over fifty percent. She then was contacted by Santander Bank where she was offered the position of Vice President Middle Market Relationship Manager. This position covered Essex and Hudson County where Fatima managed a book of business of over 150 clients. During this time she also served as President of the National Association of Professional Women (NAPW) of the West Orange Chapter in NJ and led her department in Small Business Administration production which included the largest deal size of over $20M in revenue.

In 2018, Fatima accepted a new opportunity at Valley Bank, where she currently works, as the Vice President Commercial Lender. Here she develops and monitors business plans to support the company’s strategic goal of increasing client based and corporate branding. She also participates in community and non-profit organizations. 

Her professional journey has taught Fatima that success is always possible no matter where you begin. It all comes down to your goals and actions. “You may feel like you are nowhere near accomplishing your goals right now, but there is time to change that,” Fatima encourages. “Great things can be accomplished if you put your mind to it and work hard. The first step is to plan and to give yourself goals.” 

You might be interested:  NJ Senator Teresa Ruiz is Inspirational Speaker at 2019 Latina SmallBiz Expo

She believes in the process of working toward short-term goals to build on and reach one’s ultimate goal of success. Additionally Fatima stresses the importance of resources and support. 

“It never hurts to ask for help or support from the people around you.” Reflecting back on her journey, she says, “I never thought that I was going to be the position I am in now. I dreamed of being a nurse because I wanted to help people. I was always a natural leader, always worrying about my friends and family and trying to help them. I realized that nursing wasn’t a good fit for me as I got older. So, I chose to be in banking because I liked to help the small and medium size businesses to grow. I would like to encourage everyone not to give up on your dreams.”

Valley National Bank

Thanks to Valley Bank’s Team for being a constant supporter of Latinas in Business Inc.

Sponsor of the 2019  Latina SmallBiz Expo and Pitch Competition

 

Access to capital for Latina entrepreneurs easier with Micro Offering Safe Harbor Act

Access to capital, one of the hurdles of Latina small businesses –and that of many other small business owners, is getting a lift. The Micro Offering Safe Harbor Act, which will help small businesses raise capital, was introduced by Congressman Tom Emmer of Minnesota’s 6th District and approved in the House of Representatives.

salary reviews, salary reports, access to capital

This legislation makes a simple technical amendment to the Securities Act of 1933 by defining exactly what qualifies under the “non-public offering” exemption as a way of access to capital. This would allow small businesses to operate with confidence that they are not in violation of the law when doing a non-public securities offering if one or more of the following requirements are met:

  • Each investor has a substantive pre-existing relationship with an owner,
  • There are 35 or fewer purchasers, or
  • The amount does not exceed $500,000
access to capital

Tom Emmer MN 6th District 114th Congress

“Entrepreneurs will be able to more easily launch their startups and existing businesses will have better prospects for growth,” said Emmer. “By simply clarifying an old law, more small businesses will raise capital through non-public offerings, easing the burdens of red-tape, onerous paperwork, and the threat of lawsuits. Congress has much more work to do to fully unleash the American economic engine and this legislation is one of many steps I will take to help Minnesotans achieve the American Dream. With labor force participation at an all time low and many families still having less income than they had before the 2008 economic collapse, it is my duty to do everything I can to get America’s economy firing on all cylinders.”

Several small business advocacy organizations have endorsed the Micro Offering Safe Harbor Act including the National Small Business Association and the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBEC). The SBEC stated, “The legislation would appropriately scale federal rules and regulatory compliance for small businesses, thus providing another practical option for entrepreneurs to raise the capital they need to startup or grow their firms.”

The “Micro Lending Safe Harbor Act”, sponsored by Congressman Tom Emmer, has captured some solid endorsements as both the National Small Business Associationand the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council. The bill is part of a growing recognition by elected officials that small business powers the economy and the need to make laws easier for SMEs to find access to capital.