In an article ranking the best cities for Hispanic entrepreneurs, WalletHub asked a panel of minority-business experts about the biggest challenges faced by Hispanic entrepreneurs. Nearly everyone mentioned access to capital and financial education.
“There is a clear issue with lack of access to capital to start and grow their venture,” said Pedro F. Moura, an MBA candidate at the Haas School of Business at University of California. “This is also influenced by cultural aspects in which Latinos would rather rely on family and friends for funding than outside investors. Plus, limited financial education also plays a crucial role in understanding the funding that could be unlocked by entrepreneurs.”
What does this mean for credit unions?
This means Hispanic communities represent a huge opportunity for credit unions to grow their lending business – and become those communities’ preferred financial provider. If there is a known preference for borrowing from family and friends, the question for credit unions becomes, How can we build and nurture a similar relationship with Hispanic members?
Below are a few strategies to consider.
Offer small business-friendly loans. Small-dollar loans or Small Business Administration (SBA) loans up to $5,000 can be a great way to help entrepreneurs get their ideas off the ground. With an SBA 504 loan, for example, a borrower may only need 10 percent of equity, rather than the 20 percent required with a more traditional loan. Also, the loan is normally divided into two parts. One, which tends to be 50 percent of the loan, is held by a lender. The rest is held by nonprofit groups, such as the Certified Development Corporation, with this portion backed by the SBA.
Provide microloans. Microloans are typically very small (under $500) short-term loans with a low interest rate, extended to self-employed individuals, new startups with very low capital requirements or small businesses with only a few employees. Microloans can be a good source of funding for a business to hire its first employee, cover startup costs or purchase initial inventory.
Offer Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) loans. ITIN loans are designed to help people who have a tax ID number but are not eligible for a Social Security number. Credit unions see the possibilities in serving a population that is not being served well by traditional financial institutions and they understand the value of inclusivity.
Provide lines of credit and credit-building loans. During the early stages of developing their companies, entrepreneurs may not have diversified enough to generate a constant positive cash flow. Lines of credit accommodate the seasonal credit demands of businesses along with ups and downs in cash flow. They also enable entrepreneurs to purchase inventory in anticipation of future sales. Credit-building loans, on the other hand, can help entrepreneurs build their credit as they work to grow their business.
Offer small-business financial education. Even the most robust small-business lending program can be ineffective without the right education plan in place to help entrepreneurs understand their options and select the right loans for their businesses. Ensure your marketing and education materials are available in Spanish and are culturally relevant to Hispanic populations.
Build community partnerships. One of the best ways to expand your credit union’s Hispanic entrepreneur outreach efforts is to partner with organizations that offer small business assistance for Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs. Examples include local Hispanic chambers of commerce and small business incubators.
Credit unions desiring to be Hispanic entrepreneur-friendly should work to build the right mix of lending products supported by a strong financial education program. Those that get it right will not only provide a much-needed service to Hispanics in their communities, they will also benefit themselves through lending and membership growth.Leave a comment
Over the next few months, we will write on a series of financial inclusion topics as they relate to the Hispanic culture. This first one focuses on an aversion to debt that exists within many segments of the Hispanic population. It also offers ideas for credit unions on how to provide education and value in this area.
Although there’s no one right answer to this question, it’s important to remember conventional banking as we know it in the U.S. may not be part of the traditional Hispanic upbringing. As Glenn Llopis, founder of the Center for Hispanic Leadership, wrote in a HuffPost blog post, “This has led to a general mistrust of banks and, when coupled with a natural skepticism, would account for the $53 billion attributed to ‘unbanked’ Latino households (according to a research arm of the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business).”
We see the effects of debt aversion in higher education, as well. According to Hilda Hernandez-Gravelle, senior research fellow for the Institute for College Access & Success, several cultural factors contribute to the difficulty Hispanic students often experience when it comes to securing financial aid for college. These include fear of debt, mistrust of lenders and conflict between family obligations and educational aspirations. “While Latinos generally have a strong commitment to education, many believe that if you can’t afford to pay for it up front, you can’t attend,” Hernandez-Gravelle writes.
How can credit unions help?
Avoid a one-size-fits-all approach to financial education.
It’s important to remember different cultures and financial classes have different perspectives on money and financial services providers. For example, as psychologist Miquela Rivera, PH.D., points out, for first-generation, low-income Hispanics, accumulation of money might be, at first, the main goal. Later, they may realize money in itself is not a satisfier, but that satisfaction comes from doing what they want in life, without excessive financial worry.
“Latino students who are financially literate must view money as a means, tool or resource for getting things done, not an end in itself,” Rivera writes. When credit unions help their Hispanic members achieve this mindset, those members begin to see more clearly the importance of establishing credit and that debt, when managed responsibly, can actually be beneficial.
Focus on cultural needs vs. language barriers.
Rather than focusing on literacy and word-for-word translations, Principal’s Hispanic Market Program focuses on context and cultural needs to engage Hispanics in retirement savings. The program promotes a “transcreate vs. translate” ideology, focusing on context in written educational materials rather than the word-for-word translation. Also built in is incorporating simplicity in presentations and correcting misinformation, such as the kind that leads to distrust in financial institutions.
Credit unions should take a similar approach to educating Hispanic members and prospective members about debt and creditworthiness.
Build trust and credibility.
Llopis recommends offering culturally relevant and language-appropriate products and services backed by bilingual staff. He adds it’s also important to show genuine concern for the community – for example, by active involvement in Hispanic issues and sponsorship of local events. The community will be more likely to trust the education a credit union offers if it’s playing an active role in the betterment of their daily lives.Leave a comment