GLOBAL ECONOMY

Maria Contreras Sweet: 'The SBA stands up as your tío' if banks turn their back on you

Since she took office at the SBA a year ago, Maria Contreras-Sweet has been committed to identifying and solving the issues that hinder Hispanic household growth.

 

White households in the United States are worth 10 times more than the average Hispanic household: $140,000 versus $14,000, and the gap has only been getting wider since 2007.

Maria Contreras Sweet, head of the Small Business Administration (SBA), says one way to reverse this trend is providing the Latino community with an easier pathway to establishing their own businesses. Since she took office a year ago, she has been committed to identifying and solving the issues that hinder Hispanic households growth in terms of wealth.

“We have had 16 months of consecutive job growth, and two-thirds of job growth is coming from small businesses – that’s the opportunity to change the arc of your life,” she said. “If you don’t have a job or can’t get the job you want, the cure is to start your own business.”

With more than 3 million Latino-owned businesses today, Contreras Sweet said she has taken steps to further promote entrepreneurship among Latinos. The number one obstacle to get started, she said, is capital.

“I’ve gone to the banks to say: I want it to be easier for you to make these loans, so that your clients can access these loans. So I have zeroed out fees for loans under $150,000 on SBA loans,” she told FNL.

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She explained that the SBA is committed to guarantee 75 percent of the loan: “The SBA stands up as your uncle, your tío,” she said, in the cases the banker is reluctant to loan.

“I want the community to trust this is a place they can come to,” she said.

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