Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs Inc. (ACE), an organization that helps underserved small-business owners expand through capital, coaching and connections, officially launched its Hispanic Strategy at a celebratory event on Sept. 28 at the Norcross Cultural Arts & Community Center in Norcross. The program, which will help provide Hispanic-owned businesses with better access to capital and other resources to target exponential growth, will initially be focused in Gwinnett County.
(L to R): Bucky Johnson, mayor, City of Norcross; Maria Peck, director of Hispanic Strategies and Lending, ACE;Lynette Howard, Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners, District 2; Grace Fricks, president and CEO, ACE; and Luis Izaguirre, chief programs officer, ACE.
“Our Hispanic Strategy has been modeled after ACE’s recent successes with the African-American community in Atlanta,” stated Luis Izaguirre, ACE’s chief program officer. “We look forward to making a difference in the lives of Hispanic business owners in Gwinnett County, initially, and then throughout Georgia.” Recent statistics from the U.S. Census show there are 17,000 businesses in Gwinnett County with 10 or fewer employees, which accounts for approximately 75 percent of all businesses in the county.
Currently, more than 70 percent of ACE’s loan dollars go to minority business owners working in Metro Atlanta and North Georgia. The story of one ACE client, Alejandro Munoz of All 4 Tires in Marietta, illustrates how ACE works with business owners in the community. When Munoz first came to ACE, he had recently relocated to the Atlanta area after selling a business and all his belongings. Because he had no collateral, he lacked the requirements needed to guarantee a loan to start a new business. A director at ACE advised Munoz to start small with the money he had on hand and establish both cash flow and collateral. He did, and six months later Munoz reapplied for and received a loan from ACE. As a result, his monthly net sales increased 150 percent, and he was able to hire six additional employees and purchase new equipment. Munoz feels the loan and advice from ACE were important factors in growing his business.
Izaguirre will lead the Hispanic Strategy, while Maria “Mayte” Peck, ACE director of Hispanic strategies and lending, will be visible in the Hispanic community by meeting with business owners, giving presentations and collaborating with other organizations. Peck will focus on providing access to commercial loans of $50,000 and greater.
ACE’s Hispanic Strategy will focus its efforts in Gwinnett County by:
- Developing relationships with Hispanic entrepreneurs to assist in business growth by providing capital, coaching and connections
- Utilizing a model in which ACE’s team proactively reaches out to and meets with Hispanic entrepreneurs, versus having entrepreneurs seek out ACE’s services
- Fostering trusted relationships over the long term by working one-on-one in the community with bilingual experts
ACE is supported by grants and other forms of funding from banks, foundations, government entities and corporations to assist in its mission to help underserved business-owners.
About Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs Inc. (ACE)
ACE is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and community development financial institution (CDFI) that provides loans and business consulting services to help borrowers throughout Metro Atlanta and North Georgia create and grow stable, sustainable businesses that generate jobs. Founded in 1999, ACE has loaned more than $45 million to about 765 entrepreneurs, which has created or saved more than 6,700 jobs in Georgia. ACE has offices in downtown Atlanta and Cleveland, Ga., an ACE Women’s Business Center in Norcross, Ga., and a satellite office in the Turner Redevelopment Area of Atlanta. For more information, visit www.aceloans.org.