The pandemic has not been kind to businesses in every demographic and industry category, but a study from the University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs and the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (HHCC) found that it has been especially rough on Hispanic businesses.
The survey revealed that more than half of Hispanic businesses experienced sales losses since the pandemic took hold and over one-third of the respondents said their businesses had furloughed or laid off more than 80% of their workforce at the height of the pandemic.
In the Charlotte, North Carolina area, Guadelupe Barrera and her siblings who own Mestizo Contemporary Mexican cuisine was one example of a business struggling through the pandemic.
“It’s been hard because we had to close for a while and do just to-go’s,” Barrera told WCNC TV in Charlotte.
Charlotte’s Prospera office is a group dedicated to helping Hispanic-owned businesses grow with services like consulting and grants. Carlos Zepeda, a business development consultant with Prospera, is working in partnership with the Latin American Chamber of Commerce of Charlotte. The goal is to ensure that Hispanic and Latin American business owners, like Barrera, continue to have the support they need to keep the doors open.
Zepeda says one of the bigger issues is that many struggling Hispanic businesses just don’t know where to turn for help or what resources are available. That information gap has led to many not taking advantage of funding help.
The North Carolina Department of Revenue’s business recovery grant, which accepted applications through Jan. 31, 2022, was available for any business that suffered at least 20% loss and some saw financial relief up to $500,000. However, many did not because they couldn’t understand the forms in their second language.
Barrera was thankful for the help she received and the ability to have everything laid out in Spanish.