Hispanic Small Business Town Hall: Funding Options in the Pandemic–And Beyond

The pandemic has brought a painful reality into focus: Even before Covid-19 hit, 40 percent of all Hispanic-owned businesses in the U.S. didn’t have the financial runway to survive more than 60 days without revenue.

That’s according to Eli Velazquez, venture development director at the nonprofit VentureWell. “We’ve seen the data,” he says. “Now the pandemic has made it real.” Velazquez’s comments came in Wednesday’s Hispanic Small Business Town Hall, which covered the topics of funding and cash flow. Inc. and Hello Alice are holding a series of streaming events moderated by Hello Alice co-founder Carolyn Rodz, marking Hispanic Heritage Month. The next session, on customer outreach and marketing, is Friday, September 25 at 2 p.m. ET.

Angel investors and other non-institutional sources of funding can be great resources of funding, Velazquez points out. Anyone in the U.S. with an annual income of more than $200,000 or more than $1 million in assets qualifies as an accredited investor, according to U,S, Securities and Exchange Commission guidelines. What’s more, the SEC recently expanded its definition of an accredited investor to include licensed stockbrokers, “knowledgeable” employees of private companies and others. That amounts to more than 16 million people–many of whom don’t know even that they qualify. As a founder, finding those people within your network and appealing to their inner entrepreneur could be a good strategy.

“We’re trying to mobilize those investors–who don’t know that they can go support ventures from people who look like them–to get in the game,” he says.

Another attractive option is funding that doesn’t require you to give up equity, says Juliana Garaizar, lead investor at Portfolia Rising Tide Fund. If you’re creating a consumer product, crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo can be good ways to receive cash in exchange for product instead–even if it doesn’t exist yet.

If your company makes a business-to-business product, Garaizar says, try getting potential clients to agree to pay for a pilot version. “Talk to them, be creative about how they can pay for your services so you can get advance payments,” she says. While many business owners hope to launch with a perfect product, you can go to market with a paid beta version and use those funds to improve your product.

That cash flow, Garaizar points out, can help you increase your credit line, thus providing another useful source of capital.

And what could be better than free money? Grants can be a boon to entrepreneurs, says Lolita Taub, founder and investor at The Community Fund. Taub encourages entrepreneurs to research the kinds of grants that are available for the type of company or business you’re building. She pointed to FounderGrants.com as an example of an online resource that connects founders with grant providers based on their location, company size and industry.

Often founders will try to secure any kind of capital they can find, Taub says. Instead, she says, “step back, and ask yourself what kind of business you want to build, and what funding vehicle fits within that framework.”

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