Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month: Cesar Alvarez’s Story about Building and Owning a Business
September 15 through October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month, a time to celebrate the vibrant culture of Americans whose families came earlier from Spain, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
The achievements of Hispanic business owners, teachers, healthcare professionals, engineers, tradespeople and others is recognized throughout the month in events, exhibitions and more in communities across the country.
In honor of this celebration, we’re shining a light on the tremendous contributions that people of Hispanic and Latino descent have made to our country’s business community and economy, and why they should serve as an inspiration to small business owners of all backgrounds.
Enormous economic impact as business owners and consumers
As the largest immigrant group in the United States, people of Hispanic heritage are a driving force in small business, with more than four million small businesses in every corner of the country. According to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the number of Hispanic-owned companies has nearly tripled since 2002, with revenues estimated to exceed $661 billion (as of 2016).
New York State is no exception. With the fourth-largest Hispanic and Latino population in the country, New York’s Hispanic communities have grown through the passion, determination and creativity of Hispanic and Latino family members, friends and neighbors. According to the American Immigration Council, more than one-in-five New York residents is of Hispanic or Latino descent (foreign-born and native-born).
Cesar Alvarez’s Story about Building and Owning a Business
Cesar Alvarez, owner of and project manager at Bravo General Contractor, Inc., which serves areas around New York City, Long Island and Westchester County, is a success story that brings to life the contributions that Hispanics have made to the small business community.
A native of Ecuador, Cesar had worked in graphic design and advertising prior to opening his general contracting business. Following Hurricane Sandy’s devastation, he recognized an increased need for new construction and renovation services. Cesar had worked in construction since high school, learning electrical work to help his family, and he knew he could put his design background and construction experience to work in a new business venture.
Bravo opened for business in 2013, and today, Cesar’s general contracting company oversees construction on dozens of residential and commercial projects each year. He encourages people of Hispanic and Latino backgrounds to work with him in all aspects of the building trades, bringing steady work and great pay to many more people in the communities Bravo serves.
Cesar also participated in the Minority Business Development Institute and obtained Minority-Owned Business Enterprise (MBE) certification for Bravo in 2016. This program provides certified participating business owners with an array of funding and educational opportunities and helps these businesses to be more competitive when bidding on government and corporate contracts.
How Cesar found the support he needed to grow his business
With MBE certification in hand, Bravo was ready to grow, but Cesar needed funds to purchase equipment and market the business’s services.
Cesar actively participates in MWBE events offered by New York City for small businesses, and when he attended one hosted by Bronx Small Business Development Center (Bronx SBDC), he met a business advisor from EGF. As a community development financial institution (CDFI), EGF is committed to helping emerging entrepreneurs, including minority- and women business owners, gain access to funds and educational tools that support success.
The EGF team gave Cesar guidance on small business financing options and helped him prepare a loan application. It wasn’t long before Bravo was awarded a Small Business Administration-backed microloan.
As Cesar says, “EGF showed me ways to grow the business and helped me apply for the loan. In less than seven days, I had the money I needed to expand our geographic area.”
The working capital from EGF helped Cesar get the tools he needed to expand his business and cover a larger market. By doing so, Cesar’s not only growing his business, but he’s also generating work across a larger client base and creating even more positive impact on local economies through good jobs and the purchase of materials.
Guidance and tools to help business owners thrive
Cesar offers this insight, “Business owners should always look for new opportunities to grow their businesses, and working with community lenders like EGF takes time but it’s worth it. They give good advice and help you prepare for the loan process. It makes the right kind of difference.”
In addition to helping small business owners gain greater access to working capital and other loan assistance, EGF uses its networks and resources to provide mentoring and other services to help businesses succeed. In Cesar’s case, EGF is helping Bravo improve financial management practices through QuickBooks® consulting and optimizing its digital presence through SEO consulting.
EGF is honored to work with Cesar and many other Hispanic and Latino small business owners who are achieving their entrepreneurial dreams and strengthening communities across New York State.
About Excelsior Growth Fund
Excelsior Growth Fund (EGF) helps small businesses in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania grow by providing streamlined access to business loans and advisory services. EGF’s signature product, the EGF SmartLoan™, provides up to $100,000 in fast, transparent, and affordable financing through a secure online platform. Larger loans up to $500,000 are also available. EGF is a nonprofit organization and is certified by U.S. Department of Treasury as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). Learn more at www.excelsiorgrowthfund.org.
As an affiliate of New York Business Development Corporation (www.nybdc.com) and The 504 Company (www.the504company.com), EGF can also facilitate access to a full suite of alternative financing products.