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Monica Taher when crisis sets the path to financial freedom

Monica Taher

Monica Taher

A scary moment in our lives: who has not had it? But when everything crumbles around you, then it seems hard to see where to start and how to keep it going. An emotional crisis is usually the first step into a series of disasters that can include deep financial problems.

Monica Taher, a Latina in business who defines herself as a serial entrepreneur, faced the turmoil of splitting with her lifetime partner in 2011. Today, she shares some tips on how she came back from the ashes and acquired financial freedom doing what she loves.

“As much as I was devastated when she deserted me with a mortgage to pay and a daughter to take care of, today I can look back and find a real blessing in that moment,” Monica said.

Despite the emotional pain caused by their separation, she quickly realized that a huge part of the impact was financial. “I had enjoyed the flexibility of a dual income household and suddenly, I needed to reevaluate my personal finances, assets and most importantly, the business I wanted to launch. My partner of 13 years was never supportive of my vision, and that moment of cruel realization was a turning point in my life,” she said.

Like Monica, many Latinas do not think in terms of protecting their personal finances. It is a cultural “treat,” a behavior that is passed on from generation to generation by most women in our families. We trust that our partner, husband or significant other will take care of us, and eventually, we expect our children to do the same.

However, life is not as stable as it used to be and children have their own plans and problems to worry about. “We can’t make excuses not to prepare ourselves for the eventual situation of facing a crisis,” Monica said.

The first thing she did was to dive into research about personal finances and entrepreneurship strategies. “At first, I really didn’t understand much. However, the more I read, the more it made sense,” she shared. Finally, the opportunity to launch the startup of her dreams became an obsession.

She was taught by her parents that education was the path to financial freedom. But how would she manage to continue her studies while supporting her family, saving money for her daughter’s college education and her own retirement, and graduating without getting into further debt?

“Instead of taking out student loans, I founded fellowships at the university in exchange for registration fees, and consequently graduated with zero debt. I finished my Masters degree at UCLA while working full-time,” Monica said.

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Monica Taher at her house in Los Angeles, CA

Appointed in 2009 as Director of Business Development at a leading digital multimedia producer, Getty Images Latin America (GILA), Monica invested in that company some money she had put away and became a partner. In her current role, Mónica supervises the penetration of GILA’s digital assets in the US Hispanic and Latin American markets.

“I turned into an avid reader of financial literature, raising my credit scores from the low 600s to the 800s and realized I had increased my chances of maximizing wealth for my daughter and me,” Monica said. “It took about two and a half years to get out of the woods but now I own two properties and I’m financially stable.”

She is now in the process of launching a second startup, ClipYap, an app that would allow users to chat using movie and TV shows’ lines and actions in the form of motioned GIFs seamlessly put together.

These are some tips Monica shared with LIBizus about facing a life crisis and how to make the best out of it:

  1. If you own assets with a husband, partner or significant other, your name should be on every deed or investment;
  2. Do not make excuses; you cannot be so busy that you cannot take care of your own financial protection;
  3. If you have a vision, a dream, if you are an entrepreneurial being like I am, educate yourself and focus on it;
  4. Although it is easier said than done, you cannot be with a partner who is not supportive of your ideas or do not help you fulfill your dreams.

“I know I’m in a much better place today that I would have ever been if I had stayed in that relationship. As Latinas and as immigrants, we have to fight harder to get into places and prove that we have a brain. We need to make conscious decisions, and have the courage to work through the pain with tenacity, resilience and creativity,” she concluded.

8 Simple steps to becoming a winning restaurateur

Cities Restaurant EastLABy Jesse Torres

(Photos by @melcrave)

Not too long ago I had the opportunity to interview Omar Loya in my weekly radio show on KCAA NBC Radio in Southern California. He is the co-owner of Cities Restaurant in East Los Angeles.

I was intrigued with Omar’s success story for three reasons. First, Omar and his two partners chose to launch their restaurant during the worst of The Great Recession. Second, Cities Restaurant is a “high-end” restaurant located in the middle of East Los Angeles, a low to moderate-income community. And, third, while East Los Angeles is known for its great Mexican food and large population, Cities Restaurant does not feature a single Mexican item on its menu.

Given these three facts, along with the “cult” following that Cities Restaurant has developed, I had to ask Omar how he did it. These are Omar’s eight simple steps to a successful restaurant launch.

  1. DO YOUR HOMEWORK: Omar and his partners spent a considerable amount of time conducting due diligence on the restaurant. Successful small businesses differentiate themselves and offer something that is missing in the local community. In Omar’s case, he found an abundance of low-cost Mexican restaurants. However, there was a shortage of high-end restaurants. His research told him that locals were leaving for other communities to have a “high-end” food experience. His research also suggested that local residents and professionals seeking such an experience could more than adequately support the restaurant.carpaccio dish
  2. KEEP IT SIMPLE: The fewer the number of moving parts, the easier it is to manage, and the cheaper it is to operate. The menu should not seek to be all things to all people. Instead, the menu provides options that are appealing and consistent with the mission and vision of the restaurant. In Omar’s case, he offers no Mexican cuisine. Instead, Cities Restaurant offers selections that are not available nearby.
  3. GIVE THEM WHAT IS MISSING: As noted above, part of the due diligence process is to find the unmet needs. In East Los Angeles there is a Mexican restaurant on every block. However, there are not many restaurants serving up a delicious ahi salad. Conduct a “needs assessment” by asking local residents and professionals what they like that they can’t get locally…then fill that need.
  4. NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK: Something that Omar and his partners did extremely well was to network with the local community well before the restaurant opened its doors. Omar welcomed the community to view progress in constructing the restaurant. He also attended local business chamber meetings as an owner of Cities before it served its first glass of water. He worked very closely with representatives of local government as well as community groups. By the time Cities Restaurant was ready for its grand opening, the entire community was aware. As a result, Cities Restaurant opened strong and continues to maintain a growing base of customers.
  5. BE A MEMBER OF THE COMMUNITY: Cities Restaurant has quickly become the “go to” location for fundraisers, holiday parties, and political rallies. Due to its heavy community involvement it has greatly benefited from the increased exposure to new visitors participating in the various events held at the restaurant. Along the way Cities Restaurant has gained a reputation as a community-friendly establishment, resulting in greater patronage and exposure.Watermelon with radish dish
  6. HAVE A PLAN FOR THE FUTURE: According to Omar, a problem with many restaurants is a lack of vision. It is important for the entire organization, from owners to managers to servers, to understand the vision and mission of the restaurant. However, before the staff can do this the owners must stop and think about where they want to go. Owners need to be strategic in order to ensure a future for the restaurant. What do you want your restaurant to be? Who would be your best clients?
  7. BE NIMBLE, BE QUICK: The advantage of a small business is the ability to change course “on the fly.” Running any business requires making adjustments. Owners, management and staff must constantly be on the lookout for those things that do not work and make immediate changes to achieve the desired outcomes. Unfortunately, many small businesses get caught up on the day-to-day and fail to stop and look around and analyze outcomes to see if plans are working as expected.
  8. BE OPPORTUNISTIC: Small business owners must always be on the lookout for opportunities. Such opportunities may include collaboration, filling newly discovered unmet needs, or any other circumstance that may suddenly appear. Such opportunities may not last very long. In other cases, taking strawberry saladadvantage early may provide long-term benefits. Regardless, small business owners need to be able to get above the weeds often to identify opportunities that can benefit the business.

 

Learn more about the restaurant industry (from AOL jobs)

  • Recent research done on restaurant industry statistics by the National Restaurant Association shows that nearly 50 percent of all eateries in the United States are now owned by women, and restaurants hire more minority managers than any other industry.
  • While the restaurant industry is the second largest employer, giving jobs to nearly 13 million people, women and minorities are especially well represented. For example, Hispanic restaurant ownership has increased 42 percent in the past five years. The restaurants industry has provided 1.5 million new jobs over the past 10 years.
  • Many female and minority workers got their very first jobs in some aspect of the restaurant industry. The research shows that one in four adults had their first job experience in a dining establishment, and that almost 50 percent of all U.S. residents have worked in the restaurant industry at some point in their lives.
  • Surprisingly enough, it’s not the large chains and fast food conglomerates who are the major employers in food service. Ninety three percent of all restaurants have fewer than 50 employees. Also, more than 80 percent of restaurant managers got their start as front-line employees.

For more information about resources and information on how to open a restaurant, visit the National Restaurant Association

 

 About Jesse TorresJesse_Torres

Jesse Torres has spent nearly 20 years in leadership and executive management posts, including executive management roles at financial institutions. In 2013 the Independent Community Bankers of America named him a top community banker influencer on social media. He is a frequent speaker at financial services and leadership conferences and has written several books. He hosts an NBC News Radio show called Money Talk with Jesse Torres.
Follow @jstorres or contact  Jesse@JesseTorres.com

Empanada Fork booth

Empanada Fork makes a mark for Latina entrepreneurs

Hipatia Lopez with Empanada Fork

Hipatia Lopez with Empanada Fork

By Hipatia Lopez

Hola, my name is Hipatia Lopez! I’m the inventor of a kitchen utensil that works as a pastry press known as the “Empanada Fork.”

Empanada Fork? Yes, because it makes “fork like” impressions on the dough to seal the edges. Fabulous!

My “idea” began around the kitchen table during the holiday season when my family and I were making 100 empanadas. I remember complaining about how long this last step was taking.   I literally could not get this “idea” out of my mind and envisioning how it would look. I found an architect who helped me with perfecting the drawings to make it come to life on paper. I decided to go forward and began the patent process, which took about one year for the approval.

Once I got my first shipment of the “Empanada Fork” utensil, I started contacting anybody that would listen to me. Of course I had some bumps in the road but once I got past my first rejection then I felt unstoppable!

I got contacted by a QVC broker who wanted to enter my product in an inventor’s contest. I was grateful to be part of that experience and having QVC as an avenue for my product was amazing to me. It has helped me a great deal, especially since I am a startup and have limited funds for advertising. I believe anything in life is attainable but you have to work for it.

My product is now sold through online stores such as QVC, Uncommongoods, and Mexgrocer. It is also available in stores over at LEBRON Restaurant Equipment & Supplies in NYC and Kerekes Bakery & Restaurant Equipment in Brooklyn, NY.Fork_dough_New

If you are thinking of starting your own business or would like to know more about the process of how I did it, I encourage you to contact me!

Also, if you’d like to carry my product in your business or use it for your business, you can request an order by visiting www.empanadafork.com

Twitter: @Empanadafork

Facebook: Empanadaforkutensil

 

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Family business succession is a family business

mother daughter business by Hispanic Chamber of E-Commerce team

Do you wish to see your family business remain a family business? Many business owners truly do care about seeing their company stay in the family, which is perfectly natural—but it won’t happen without some careful and deliberate planning. If you want your children to one day assume control, this should be done well in advance, long before you actually plan on stepping down.

This is partly to ensure that your children are ready for this responsibility, that they feel confident in their abilities to run the company—and that you feel confident in them, as well. Additionally—and at the risk of being morbid—you frankly don’t know how long you have to conduct this training; should something unexpected happen to you, it’s important for the business that your kids are able to step up and assume control.

  •  Succession planning matters

This isn’t just a matter of training and mentoring, of course, but of actual, formal, legal planning. That’s the first step we recommend in this process: Meet with an attorney to set up a succession plan now, clarifying who you want to take over control of the business when you retire, or should you pass away.

  • Communication is key

Communication is another important concept—and here, we remind you that it really is a two-way street. Start the conversation now by inquiring as to whether your children even want to take over control of the business. If they don’t, well, that may be disappointing to you—but it’s likely going to be more trouble than it’s worth trying to talk them into taking over the company if they don’t really want to.

Also, be open in communicating with your kids what running the business is like. Share with them the joys and the frustrations of it—your biggest sources of satisfaction, your biggest obstacles, and something of your daily routine. Help them get a feel for what running the business is like.

  •  Train and mentor

Of course, you’ll want to train and mentor your children on-the-job, which will look different for different family businesses. One thing we would recommend to everyone, though, is that you give your children exposure to all aspects of running and working in the business; train them in every single department, from customer service to bookkeeping. They do not have to master everything, but they do need to have a basic familiarity with everything.

Start them young, too. Cultivate interest from a reasonably early age—and set them on a path toward true success running the family business.

Latinas leaving corporate America, startups, small business, launching a business

Leaving the rat race to launch your dream business

startups, small business, launching a businessBy Jesse Torres

During my Money Talk radio interview on KCAA with Los Angeles area game developer Giovanni Luis, co-founder of MakeData and co-creator of the Papermals Pre-K app, he explained how he made the leap to entrepreneur after 20 years of working for Electronic Arts and Sony.

His work experience gave him the technical expertise and his parenting role gave him the motivation to move from creating blockbuster action games to making high-quality educational apps. “My corporate experience gave me the confidence to go out and create these games,” he said.

He first stumbled upon game development after completing a degree program in industrial design at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. “I just happened to know a piece of software that they were using to develop a game called Nuclear Strike,” said Luis, calling the experience a “happy accident.” This resulted in a five-year run with Electronic Arts followed by 15 years of working for Sony’s gaming unit.

As his children began preschool, Luis started to explore the technology used by his school district. He felt that the software and apps available left a lot to be desired, both from the educational and visual perspective. Thus the gamification expert decided to leave the corporate world to start his own company with several like-minded associates.

Luis has another advantage: his preschool and kindergarten-age children. Every day his kids rekindle his passion to develop meaningful apps. His goal is the highest level in edutainment. Luis strived to fashion age-appropriate educational lessons, such as instruction in numbers, sizes and coins.

Here are some thoughts to keep in mind when launching your new business, according to Luis:

  1. Aim to exceed expectations. While Luis’ education apps are less complex than the games he developed for Electronic Arts and Sony, he aimed to develop products that exceeded the ordinary and expected. He wanted his first app to have such a visually stunning interface that the pre-K crowd would adore it and that a high level of engagement would result in solid word-of-mouth referrals from parents and teachers.

Make a product that incorporates the wow factor to increase sales organically.

  1. Know the business landscape. An entrepreneur must be intimately familiar with the industry he’s operating in. Luis wished to market his app as not only a game but also as educational technology. This dual purpose could potentially improve the return on investment.

Keep your finger on the pulse of the market in order to provide timely innovations and provide a product that meets buyers’ evolving desires.latina microfunding

  1. Produce for the masses. Luis learned the importance of economies of scale while developing games at Sony. A single AAA game could take as long as 18 months to develop, cost millions. A large customer market is needed generate a return on investment.

In California alone thousands of new kindergartners arrive on the scene each year, Luis discovered. Papermals Pre-K has Spanish and Mandarin versions to capitalize on the growing Latino market in the States and the large Mandarin-speaking population abroad.

Target growing niches to fuel market expansion and provide opportunities for innovation.

  1. Score a quick win. Luis and his small band of fellow developers needed a quick win to serve as proof of his concept and keep the troops motivated and engaged — and eating! Rather than trying to create an app with an evolving technology like virtual reality, Luis and his team focused on the iOs and Android platforms, creating their first app in three months in the hopes of soon generating revenue.

Identify strategic opportunities that can provide an immediate return on investment so as to support current operations and increase the likelihood of the company’s survival.

  1. Tap into influencers. Luis and his team develop apps for a market just out of diapers. This market does not carry a credit card or use mobile devices. So Luis cannot directly market his product to end users. Instead, he must find the individuals who can influence its purchase, such as teachers, school district administrators and parents.

One impressed teacher could recommend an app to dozens of parents. And impressed parents might engage in verbal and social-media-based word-of-mouth, prompting scores of purchases.

Beginning on Day 1, create genuine relationships with parties that can maintain influence or build relationships with the target market.

 

 About Jesse TorresJesse_Torres

Jesse Torres has spent nearly 20 years in leadership and executive management posts, including executive management roles at financial institutions. In 2013 the Independent Community Bankers of America named him a top community banker influencer on social media. He is a frequent speaker at financial services and leadership conferences and has written several books. He hosts an NBC News Radio show called Money Talk with Jesse Torres.
Follow @jstorres or contact  Jesse@JesseTorres.com

 

small business insurance, Latina small business,

Better safe than sorry with appropriate business insurance

small business insurance, Latina small business,Every business needs some type of insurance coverage to protect its assets and be covered for potential liabilities. Finding the right type of insurance your specific business needs, and the types of insurance available is a conversation to have with your insurance agent or broker. Your agency can also advise you on the exact amount of insurance you should consider purchasing according to your business size and volume.

Here are some basic insurance definitions the Small Business Administration (SBA) recommends for small businesses and their definitions.

General Liability Insurance

Business owners purchase general liability insurance to cover legal hassles due to accident, injuries and claims of negligence. These policies protect against payments as the result of bodily injury, property damage, medical expenses, libel, slander, the cost of defending lawsuits, and settlement bonds or judgments required during an appeal procedure.

Product Liability Insurance

Companies that manufacture, wholesale, distribute, and retail a product may be liable for its safety. Product liability insurance protects against financial loss as a result of a defect product that causes injury or bodily harm. The amount of insurance you should purchase depends on the products you sell or manufacture. A clothing store would have far less risk than a small appliance store, for example.

Professional Liability Insurance

Business owners providing services should consider having professional liability insurance (also known as errors and omissions insurance). This type of liability coverage protects your business against malpractice, errors, and negligence in provision of services to your customers. Depending on your profession, you may be required by your state government to carry such a policy. For example, physicians are required to purchase malpractice insurance as a condition of practicing in certain states.

Commercial Property Insurance

Property insurance covers everything related to the loss and damage of company property due to a wide-variety of events such as fire, smoke, wind and hail storms, civil disobedience and vandalism. The definition of “property” is broad, and includes lost income, business interruption, buildings, computers, company papers and money.

Property insurance policies come in two basic forms:

(1) all-risk policies covering a wide-range of incidents and perils except those noted in the policy;

(2) peril-specific policies that cover losses from only those perils listed in the policy. Examples of peril-specific policies include fire, flood, crime, and business interruption insurance. All-risk policies generally cover risks faced by the average small business, while peril-specific policies are usually purchased when there is high risk of peril in a certain area. Consult your insurance agent or broker about the type of business property insurance best suited for your small business.

Home-Based Business Insurance

Contrary to popular belief, homeowners’ insurance policies do not generally cover home-based business losses. Depending on risks to your business, you may add riders to your homeowners’ policy to cover normal business risks such as property damage. However, homeowners’ policies only go so far in covering home-based businesses and you may need to purchase additional policies to cover other risks, such as general and professional liability.

One final suggestion: Find a broker or agent that speaks your language of preference and explain them your needs. It always feels better to trust someone who knows in detail the way we conduct business in our community and, at the same time, is familiar with the US law requirements to protect your business and your livelihood.

Do THIS to keep your business cash flowing!

Business cash flow

By Jesse Torres

Michael Lewis, a former business executive and financial blogger, does not sugar coat things when he says, “owners who cannot efficiently manage their cash flow are almost certain to fail.”

Every day new entrants throw their hat into the ring of entrepreneurship. And every day several die off. Many of these entrepreneurs, after spending considerable time fine-tuning their business plan, find themselves scratching their head, wondering why their company, with its innovative product or service, suffered such a fate.

In a great many cases, the answer is easy: cash flow.

“Cash flow is the lifeblood of a business and critical in its growth,” according to entrepreneur and marketing communications consultant Caron Beesley. “With money tight and bank loans hard to get, a cash-strapped company can easily be pushed to the brink.”

The lesson that entrepreneurs must master immediately is that a business cannot operate very long when cash outflow exceeds cash inflow. Every business, particularly a startup, must zealously monitor its cash flow to prevent a serious business disruption. In business, cash is king and cash flow is priority # 1.

A significant percentage of cash-flow issues result because owners have not spent adequate time estimating the arrival of various revenue streams and balanced that against their need to pay certain expenses. Entrepreneurs must realize the critical importance of calculating accurate cash-flow projections to address day-to-day activities. Owners who don’t thoughtfully estimate their cash flow for an upcoming period (the day, week, month and quarter) place their business at serious risk.

From Day 1 businesses must track and manage their cash from the time that they must pay vendors, employees and others to the time that they collect from their customers. Doing anything less assures near certain failure. The following tips can help business owners ensure that their cash flow is managed well and not placing the business at risk of failure:

  1. Create a Budget.

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

  1. Monitor the Results.

Examining the budget should not be an infrequent activity. On at least a monthly basis (but more frequently if warranted), the actual cash flow should be compared with the budget to work out the kinks in the system. If cash inflows are less than anticipated, figure out the reason for the shortfall. If cash outflows end up being greater than expected, understanding the cause is also important.

Once the reasons for the budget variances are determined, the business can make the necessary corrections, either to the budget or the business plan or both.

  1. Have a Plan B.

Regardless of the amount of time and energy a business owner devotes to creating a budget, unexpected events can suddenly crop up, wreaking havoc on even the best cash-management system. During such times, the business might need to rely on a contingent source of cash to keep the operation running until things return to normal.

Typical sources of contingent funding include lines of credit, personal assets and friends and family. Business owners should have a Plan B lined up well before the funds are needed.

For example, a business owner who plans to borrow funds to cover a cash shortfall should have the loan or a line of credit in place well before the cash is needed. Allowing a cash-flow disruption to occur before applying for a loan is asking for trouble as most banks will hesitate to lend money to a business in distress.

Even if a bank were willing to extend a loan, few financial institutions can underwrite and approve a request in less than a month. By then, the business may have already failed due to its inability to cover its cash needs.

  1. Bill Quickly.Its raining money

A key element of cash-flow management is controlling the timing of funds coming in and going out. It may be customary, depending on the industry, for a business to extend credit to purchasers. For example, customers may be extended a 30-day period to furnish payment. Every time this type of transaction occurs, it places a strain on the business. While the buyer need not provide payment for 30 days, the company must continue to meet its financial obligations.

The easiest tactic for a business to pursue is to bill a client immediately. Businesses that make sales on credit must ensure that the invoice is delivered within 24 hours of the transaction. Furthermore, companies should track their invoices and send reminders before the payment-due date. Businesses that delay invoice delivery will likely receive their payments late due to the processing time required by the buyer. Business owners should consider delivering invoices by email to ensure rapid and certain delivery of billings.

To alleviate the pressure created by credit sales, a business should implement tactics to accelerate payment. A common technique includes providing discounts to buyers who pay their bill within 10 days. Buyers with sufficient cash to make their payment will be willing to forego availing themselves of the payment period in exchange for a discount.

Every business owner dreams of making a big sale. Unfortunately, businesses that make big sales on credit are often put under duress because they may then require the purchase of additional inventory. In such instances, business owners should consider making the buyer provide a down payment against the purchase so as to relieve the burden on the company’s cash flow.

5.Timely Payment Policies.

A sound cash-flow management strategy calls for rapid collection of invoices and timely payments. This means that the business should not pay its bills ahead of time — or late. The company should pay its bills when they are due. This ensures that its cash is working hard.

To the extent that the organization is flush with cash, business owners should ask for a cash discount at the time of a purchase instead of buying on credit. The offer of a cash payment may entice the seller to offer a discount. This can be especially beneficial in cases of big-ticket purchases where a discount can be meaningful.

 

 About Jesse TorresJesse_Torres

 Jesse Torres has spent nearly 20 years in leadership and executive management posts, including executive management roles at financial institutions. In 2013 the Independent Community Bankers of America named him a top community banker influencer on social media. He is a frequent speaker at financial services and leadership conferences and has written several books. He hosts an NBC News Radio show called Money Talk with Jesse Torres.
Follow @jstorres or contact  Jesse@JesseTorres.com

immigrant entrepreneur

Microfunding makes access to capital a reality for minority businesses

What is microfunding? A few years ago, I remember being shocked at the idea of people getting a $25 loan to start a business in an underdeveloped country. Twenty five dollars doesn’t seem a lot but microfinance became an instrumental tool that helped many start ups and businesses, energizing massive economies in Western countries.

immigrantentrepreneur

International microlending followed two roads, one of investment, and the other as a humanitarian cause. Lenders around the world would loan small amounts through international organizations, which would distribute the money among small business owners and start-ups, sometimes expecting compensation and others just to provide someone with an opportunity.

Microlending proved to be a successful chance for all, with excellent repayment rates, and an injection of hope in poor economies where credit is not an option for people without assets. Kiva, for instance, works in 53 countries and has a lending capital of over $150 million. Kiva collects small amounts starting at $25 that become part of an investors’ pool for a selected borrower’s project. With an average of 35,000 lenders a week, Kiva reports a return rate of 98.93%.

Never saw it coming but now microfinance is booming in the United States. High unemployment rate and tightened bank requirements have created amazing opportunities, matching microlenders with people looking to start a small business.

Small business owners as job creators

Small business owners amount for the largest job creation in the United States –they generated 65 percent of net new jobs over the past 17 years. Here are some of the non-profit organizations out there that can be researched if looking for a loan not based on collateral, credit scores or past performance but your passion and dedication to your business:

KIVA They are “a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world.” They envision “a world where all people – even in the most remote areas of the globe – hold the power to create opportunity for themselves and others.”

ACCION USA As a leader in U.S. microfinance, “ACCION USA is committed to bringing affordable small business loans to microentrepreneurs. ACCION USA has provided over $119 million in over 19,000 microloans since inception in 1991, helping to grow small businesses and strengthen the communities they serve.” (Website in English and Spanish)

ACCION International: With offices in Massachusetts and New York City –as well as other international offices- , Accion International is a “private, nonprofit organization with the mission of giving people the financial tools they need to work their way out of poverty. By providing ‘micro’ loans, business training and other financial services to poor men and women who start their own businesses, ACCION helps people work their way up the economic ladder, with dignity and pride.” (Website in English and Spanish)

BOC/Network The Business Outreach Center (BOC) Network is a “micro-enterprise/small business development organization with over a decade-long record of delivering customized business services to under-served entrepreneurs in New York City and, more recently, in Newark, New Jersey, as well as capacity-building services to organizations establishing and operating community and micro-enterprise development programs.”

Grameen Foundation United States: Partnering with a microfinance institution in the United States, Project Enterprise, their mission is to “support and develop entrepreneurs and small businesses in under-resourced communities in New York City. By providing access to business loans, business development services, and networking opportunities, Project Enterprise helps entrepreneurs increase their standard of living, create jobs for their communities, and build financial assets.”latina microfunding

REAP Based in Nebraska, the Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP) is a “program of the Center for Rural Affairs focusing on small business development. REAP consists of four elements including: networking, business management training, credit (micro-loans) and technical assistance.”

Opportunity Fund is a not-for-profit social enterprise “helping thousands of California families build financial stability.  Our strategy combines microloans for small businesses, microsavings accounts, and community real estate financing. Since making our first loan in 1995, our team has deployed over $200 million into our communities.” (Website in English and Spanish)

You can also check the Small Business Administration Microloan Program for a microlending opportunity in your area. Lenders in this program might require some collateral and personal guarantee of the business owner.