This month is Hispanic Heritage Month, which was created more than 50 years ago to celebrate the many contributions Latinos have made to American society and culture. This includes the contributions of Latino-owned businesses, which employ more than 3 million people in the U.S. and contribute about $500 billion to the economy in annual sales.
In fact, Latino-owned small businesses are growing faster than any other group in the country. But, these businesses are being hit especially hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
During the pandemic, Latino business owners fell by 32% and a recent survey from the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative found that nearly 90% of Latino small business owners reported that COVID-19 had a significant negative impact on their businesses.
And despite the federal government rolling out the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) this spring in an effort to help small businesses stay afloat, too many Latino-owned businesses were left behind.
According to a survey by the Global Strategy Group, just 12% of Black and Latino business owners who applied for PPP say they received the relief they asked for and half said they fear they’ll be forced to permanently close.
To help correct this gap, Robert F. Smith leveraged his leadership position and worked with Congress and the White House to push for legislative changes that make sure relief loans better reach Black and Brown communities.
“I’ve gotten to know quite a few people in my lifetime and have been able to build some long-lasting relationships,” Smith said. “I believed now was the time to utilize those relationships if I could.
Read more about Smith’s efforts to support Black and Brown businesses in accessing PPP loans on CBS This Morning.