ProAmérica Bank’s Maria Contreras-Sweet: Partnerships Are the Key to Success for Hispanic Startups

As chairwoman of ProAmérica Bank—which has lent more than $100 million to Latino enterprises in the past year alone—Maria Contreras-Sweet knows a thing or two about the formula for a fruitful startup.

If you’ve got the necessary talent but none of the necessary capital to become a successful entrepreneur, team up with someone close who’s well qualified for a business loan, she tells Eduardo Quezada, host of Tu Propio Negocio on BlogTalkRadio en Español.

“That can be an uncle, a cousin—someone who’ll say, ‘This person will pay on time and comply with the terms of the loan.’ If you have that, the bank will grant you the loan.

“A lot of young people looking to start businesses don’t realize that another person can sign a loan for them,” says Contreras-Sweet, who was in Washington, D.C., last week to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month (which runs September 15 through October 15) with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

 “What I’m seeing now in the market is people getting together and figuring out who has the best credit to help them obtain a loan. Then the founder of the new business pays a little more to the person who backed the loan, or gives them more equity in the new company.

 “That’s how it’s done—in groups, as partners. Two or three people can help each other out. Instead of bickering with one and other, rather than competing with each other, we must come together and become partners,” adds Contreras-Sweet, who served as Cabinet Secretary of the California Business, Transport and Housing Agency from 1999 to 2003.

 Meanwhile, she cautions young entrepreneurs who do realize their dream of getting a business off the ground to pay close attention to their financial affairs:

 “Always pay your bills on time and maintain good credit. That’ll help you secure loans at lower interest rates, which in turn will help you grow your business further.”

 Looking ahead to 2014 and beyond, Contreras-Sweet sees five sectors that offer aspiring Hispanic entrepreneurs the greatest promise: construction, transportation, energy, health care and technology.

 Sponsored by Amway, Tu Propio Negocio launched in September and runs through October 31 on BlogTalkRadio en Español.

To hear Contreras-Sweet’s full interview, tune in here

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