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One of the fastest-growing demographic among entrepreneurs in the U.S., Hispanic founders made up 6.5% of all entrepreneurs in 2001 and now make up 15% of that group as of 2019. — Getty Images/Drazen_

The number of U.S. Hispanic-owned businesses with employees has boomed to more than 350,000 in recent years. In fact, Hispanic founders made up 6.5% of all entrepreneurs in 2001 and now make up 15% of that group as of 2019.

Despite being the fastest-growing demographic among entrepreneurs in the U.S., however, Hispanic-owned businesses have problems with accessing capital and stay smaller in part because of that. Research from Stanford indicates Hispanic businesses receive fewer funding opportunities compared to entrepreneurs from other ethnic groups, meaning many of these businesses can’t scale as well.

In response to this lack of funding access, multiple organizations and government agencies have been set up to help Hispanic and minority business owners with loans, grants and other financing options. Here are nine that can help.

Accion

Nonprofit financial institution Accion serves small businesses across the U.S. by offering low-cost lending opportunities. Accion’s U.S. operations are made up of three locations that work with businesses across 41 states, including California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana and New York. Loans from Accion range from $300 to $100,000, with repayment terms personalized for each small business. Accion offers services in both English and Spanish, as well, in order to better help Hispanic business owners.

Community Development Financial Institutions Fund

The Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund, part of the U.S. Treasury, has historically played an important role in making sure minority-owned businesses receive financial and lending support. Various firms and organizations whose roles are to aid “underserved people and communities” have been awarded money from the CDFI Fund since 1994. Hispanic-owned business owners can connect with local banks and organizations that have received CDFI funds, in order to discuss low-cost loans and tax credit opportunities.

Digtalundivided

The New Jersey-based nonprofit firm Digitalundivided has a mission to “develop innovative programs and initiatives that catalyze economic growth in Black and Latinx communities.” The organization has focused its efforts specifically on supporting Black and Hispanic women entrepreneurs over the past few years, and it even launched funding opportunities to aid women of color whose businesses have struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Grants.gov

The aptly named U.S. government website Grants.gov offers the largest and most diverse database of thousands of federal grant opportunities. While most grants aren’t specifically targeted at Hispanic-owned businesses, the award opportunities are wide-ranging and encourage businesses of all stripes to apply. More than $500 million in grants are awarded annually, with help requested of businesses that can aid with U.S. healthcare, defense, environmental protection and more.

Another notable SBA initiative is the 8(a) Business Development program, which can connect Hispanic business owners with set-aside and sole-source federal contracting opportunities.

Camino Financial

Camino Financial, a Los Angeles-based financial firm, has a mission to help small businesses obtain simple, low-cost loans. Co-founders Sean Salas and Kenny Salas said they founded Camino to provide aid to people like their mother, who lost her Mexican restaurant business when they were children. Camino offers all of its services in both English and Spanish languages to help business owners, no matter their background.

National Association for the Self-Employed

While not specifically targeting Hispanic-owned businesses, the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) works to provide resources for all self-employed businesses, including many Hispanic-owned companies. One way the NASE helps its members is with Growth Grants worth $4,000 each. The NASE has given away more than $1 million in grants to date, which were used for “computers, farm equipment, to hire part-time help, marketing materials, website creation, and more.”

Opportunity Fund

Opportunity Fund, a nonprofit small business lender that has existed since 1994, offers small loans to “underserved small businesses, particularly those owned by low- and moderate-income immigrants, people of color, and women.” Hispanic business owners can get loans from $2,600 to $250,000 through Opportunity Fund, and the nonprofit also offers access to loan services through a Spanish-language portal as well.

Small Business Administration (SBA)

The Small Business Administration (SBA) provides a host of services and programs that can help Hispanic- and other minority-owned businesses get funds. One of the biggest ways is the ability to obtain microloans and Community Advantage loans, which can be applied for through SBA Lender Match. Another notable SBA initiative is the 8(a) Business Development program, which can connect Hispanic business owners with set-aside and sole-source federal contracting opportunities.

USDA Rural Business Development Grants

For Hispanic-owned businesses located in rural parts of the U.S., USDA Rural Business Development Grants may be a good option to explore. These grants, which vary in size, help small businesses that have less than 50 workers in eligible locations. Approved grants can be used for things such as training, technical assistance, acquisition or development of land, building construction or renovations, equipment purchases, pollution control, community economic development and more.

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Published September 17, 2020