leader, Valley Bank relief programs

Covid-19 Unsung Heroes: How Valley Bank relief programs helped small businesses

The Covid-19 pandemic has hit our country hard, not only impacting our health but also our finances. Many have been left unemployed or struggling financially. We have many essential workers to thank during this pandemic, from doctors, nurses, grocery store employees, and food service workers.

Another group who have been working tirelessly during this time to help those impacted by this pandemic are bankers. Since the pandemic began, Valley Bank relief programs have been offered to their clients to provide as much aid and support as possible through the Covid-19 pandemic. 

leader, Valley Bank relief programs

The Valley Bank Team (L to R) Sofi Cordero, [Susana G Baumann], Fatima Pearn and Dorothy Kahlau at the 2019 Latina SmallBiz Expo

Our unsung heroes also feel the pandemic stress

Like many of us, our unsung pandemic heroes are also facing personal and family challenges, coping, and rising up stronger during these times. In addition to all their work providing crucial Covid-19 relief programs and resources, our Valley Bankers have been finding other ways to give back and stay connected with their communities.  

Valley Bank relief programs, Sofi Cordero

Sofi Cordero, Assistant Vice President, Community Mortgage Officer, Valley National Bank (Photo Courtesy Sofi Cordero)

Valley Banker, Sofi Cordero, Community Mortgage Officer, has been coping by volunteering with her local health department to go food shopping for senior citizens. 

Staying at home was hard for Sofi at first, making her feel helpless during such a critical time. “I’m not comfortable working from home because it is not in my personality,” says Sofi. “I feel guilty and ungrateful for saying that because so many have lost their jobs. I’m passionate about physical connections and interactions with my community, clients and colleagues.”

Finding ways to help others in a physical way has been important to Sofi, which is why she decided to become a shopper for senior citizens. It has been her way of giving back and contributing to her community.

“I could not just be home and do nothing about one of the most critical times in our country,” she says. “I have also donated to several GoFundMe campaigns and nonprofits to help with this crisis.” 

Professionally, Sofi has learned to be better prepared with technology, learn more about virtual platforms for meetings and networking. “I need to work on time management and to turn off the computer just like I was in the office,” she said.

As a woman and single mother,  Sofi learned that she can do it all like she did before COVID-19 but just more grateful for her ability to be able to deal with it all.

Lessons learned helped create a virtual network 
Fatima Pearn, Valley Bank relief programs

Fatima Pearn, Vice President of Commercial Lending at Valley National Bank in NJ  (Photo Courtesy Fatima Pearn).

“We have been able to help over 200 small businesses with our PPP program,” says Fatima Pearn, Vice President of Commercial Lending at Valley Bank in NJ.  

Fatima has been using this time to have more quality family time. Like many working parents, Covid-19 has had one unexpected perk: giving us time to slow down and appreciate the little things in life again. “Before COVID-19 I was spending 80% of time out networking and didn’t have time to do any family activities.” 

Without the ability to socialize in person with friends, colleagues and clients, Valley Bank employees have come together to create a rich virtual network to stay connected and support each other and their clients throughout these difficult, uncertain times. 

“I learned that even being not able to socialize in person, we can still do our job, feeling closer from my clients and co-workers, and share great stories and learn a lot from each other,” says Fatima speaking about how Valley Bank is staying connected. “I am grateful for having my job and having a very strong support from Valley Bank.” 

Sadness cannot not express the loss of Antonia Martinez, a Valley Banker

Antonia Martinez, AVP Territory Sales Market,  passed away on Saturday May 23, 2020. Antonia was a resident of Hudson county, New Jersey for over 30 years. She was the first Valley Bank Officer that tended a sponsorship hand to Latinas in Business. Since she opened that door, Valley Bank has become a house name in all promotional events including the Latina SmallBiz Expo and Pitch Competition and the Entrepreneur Empowerment Lunch. A Cuban immigrant at a young age, Antonia was a cancer survivor and active advocate for the Latino community and for all causes related to benefiting women and children. She is missed by family, colleagues, and her clients at the West New York and Union City Branches.

Edna Rios, Houry Karaguezian, Antonia Martinez. Valley National Bank held its 10th Annual Breast Cancer Walk in Wayne. 10/13/2018 RICHARD FORMICOLA/SPECIAL TO NORTHJERSEY.COM

Supporting small businesses through Valley Bank relief programs 

Valley Bank is a preferred SBA Lender, and its bankers have been working with small businesses ‘round the clock to help them during these challenging times. Two Covid-19 Valley Bank relief programs under “Business Lending Resources” that have been introduced since the pandemic began are the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and SBA Loan Deferment. 

Valley Bank, Latina SmallBiz Expo

Valley National Bank, sponsor at the 2019 Latina SmallBiz Expo.

With the EIDL, businesses that have been adversely affected by Covid-19 can apply for low-interest, long-term disaster loans up to $2 million. These loans can provide vital economic support to small businesses that have experienced a loss of revenue due to Covid-19. 

Additionally for borrowers with existing Valley SBA 7(a) Loans, the SBA Loan Deferment will allow temporary deferments to struggling businesses during this time.  

Valley Bank’s Paycheck Protection Program is another resource that has been helping clients affected financially by Covid-19. The Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) authorized up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses to pay their employees during the COVID-19 crisis. Through this program, all loan terms will be the same for everyone.

You Might Be Interested: Best use of PPP and other financing strategies for Latina business owners

Valley Bank is here to support you too. Whether you are a small business or looking for personal support, be sure to check out their various Covid-19 relief programs and lending options.


loans for Latina entrepreneurs

How to find small business loans for Latina entrepreneurs

 How to find loans for Latina entrepreneurs who need access to affordable financing when the time comes, just like any other small businesses? There are several government resources and non-profit organizations providing lending specifically to Hispanic business owners. 

By Guest Contributor Dave Rathmanner 

loans for Latina entrepreneurs


Most small businesses face a need for financing at some point or another throughout the business cycle, whether it is for working capital, expansion, or equipment purchasing. When funding is necessary to keep operations moving forward, a small business loan is the goldstandard in business lending.

That is because small business loans offer a set amount of financing, predictable repayment over time, and relatively low interestrates for well-qualified businesses. But first, business owners must know what it takes to be eligible for a small business loan.

Small Business Loan Eligibility Requirements

Each small business loan lender has different requirements for companies in need of a loan, but generally speaking, businesses must meet the following qualification criteria:

  • Strong credit history and score, either on the businessor personal side of the line
  • Good repayment history on other debts, including loans, lines of credit, credit cards, and alternativefinancing arrangements
  • Strong cash flow from sales
  • Adequate business assets which may be usedascollateral
  • At least one year in business
  • Certain amount of annual revenue for the past year or two
  • Strong financial statements of the company, including balance sheet, income and loss statements, and cash flow statements

In some cases, small business lendersmay also requireaudited financial records, a business plan, or a detailed description of what the loan proceeds will be used to cover. Business owners can improve their chances of getting approval for a business loan by having documentation organized and accurate.

Small business loans for Latina entrepreneurs specifically

LatinX business owners make up nearly 2.3 millionof the 27 million businesses in the United States, and that number continues to grow each year. Just like other small businesses, LatinX business owners need access to affordable financing when the time comes. There are several government resources and non-profit organizations providing lending specifically to Hispanic business owners, with the most prominent including:

  • Minority Business Development Agency: local centers staff business specialists who are trained to assist Hispanic business owners in securing loans through a network of qualified lenders.
  • S Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC): through local CoC organizations, Hispanic business owners can be connected to lenders willing and able to help fund operations through small business loans.
  • ACCION: as a microfinance organization, ACCION providers Hispanic small business owners with loans up to $50,000, with a simplifiedapplication and approval process online.

loans for Latina entrepreneurs

Where to Find Small Business Loans in General

Small business loans are available from a variety of lenders, including traditional banks and credit unions, financing companies, and alternative lenders online. Also, the Small Business Administration, while not a direct provider of funding, guarantees loans from qualified lenders. Using this tool online, small business owners can find an SBA-partner lender, along with qualification requirements and application information.

You might be interested: Microfunding makes access to capital a reality for minority businesses

Visiting a local small business development center through the SBA may also connect business owners with lenders able to help with financing needs. A list of local SBDCs can be found on the SBA website, along with other resources for finding the right small business loan.