BBIF Florida helps growing small business stay afloat with PPP loan

BBIF Florida Client Spotlight: CCI Group

For the past eight years, Indy Vega and her Orlando-based company, CCI Group, have become a trusted source of linguistic solutions for local, state and federal agencies in Florida. 

What started out as a lifestyle business for Vega, allowing her to pursue her passion for languages while becoming her own boss, blossomed into a growing minority-owned company with eight full-time employees providing translation and interpretation services of more than 70 languages, including American Sign Language.

“Our main goal is to enable our clients to succeed in a global economy through knowledge and understanding of language and culture,” according to Vega. 

Her client-focused mission helped CCI Group thrive.  In fact, after experiencing a 35% growth in business in 2019, CCI Group had aggressive goals for 2020. This all changed with the coronavirus pandemic which forced governments to issue stay-at-home orders to help flatten the curve and reduce the load of patients in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. As a result, businesses were forced to close as Americans self-quarantined.

“The future of CCI Group looked uncertain,” states Vega. “Our biggest clients closed unexpectedly without any signs of reopening. Since our employees provide in-person interpreting, there was absolutely nothing we could do to change this situation.” 

The pandemic forced a record number of small businesses to close, if only temporarily. According to research from the University of California at Santa Cruz, between February to April 2020, the number of active business owners in the United States plummeted by 3.3 million or 22%, which is the largest drop in business owners on record. During the two-month period, 41% of Black business owners had to close their doors, while 32% of Latino business owners and 25% female-owned businesses shuttered. In comparison, only 17% of white business owners closed during this period.

While there are several factors that explain why minority businesses are closing at a higher rate, the most noteworthy cause is limited access or lack of capital, which makes it difficult to survive financial emergencies and economic downturn.

Vega reached out to a national funder to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a loan created under the CARES Act and administered by the Small Business Administration. Despite her existing relationship with her bank, Vega was unable to gain access to the emergency funds.

With no recovery strategy, Vega continued to search for a way to access the PPP loan and sought assistance from BBIF Florida, a non- traditional lender and non-profit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). BBIF Florida’s mission is to provide capital and training to black, minority, and underserved small businesses.  As of May 31, 2020, BBIF Florida had provided $5.4 Million in PPP loans to underserved businesses.

BBIF Florida secured a PPP loan for CCI Group, allowing Vega to save four full-time positions.

“BBIF gave us hope and made this a reality. Thanks to the PPP loan, we are able to focus on adapting effectively to the new normal and even develop our services in other areas that will allow us to bring our staff to work full-time again.” -Indy Vega, CEO of CCI Group

 

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BBIF Florida helps hispanic-owned, interior design firm in Miami obtain much needed PPP loan.

BBIF PPP Client Spotlight: Sanchez Coleman Studio LLC

From bridal collections to interior design renovations, Angel Sanchez has become internationally recognized as a high-end architect and fashion designer. As CEO of Sanchez Coleman Studio, LLC, Angel and his team work around the clock to offer quality lifestyle, fashion, and interior design services to celebrities like Beyoncé, but also to their beloved South Florida community. Sanchez, a Venezuelan-American business owner, aims to spread awareness of valuable Latin talent. With over 20 years of experience, he dedicates his talent to his Latin American roots. Unfortunately, this mission was threatened when the COVID-19 pandemic escalated. 

Due to reduced hours of operation and depletion of cash reserves, Sanchez was devastated to learn he might have to lay off his talented team. “During this pandemic, our main concern was how we could bring back the great group of people we found in Miami and rebuild our company. We want to succeed in our objective to celebrate Latin talent.”

Minority-owned small businesses, particularly Black and Latino have been the hardest hit during the pandemic. Fueling concerns for minority owned businesses is the wealth gap and the fact that 58% of black and Latino households do not have enough to cover a minimum of three months of expenses without income compared to 29% of white households, according to the NAACP.

While the CARES Act passed by Congress aimed to provide coronavirus relief to small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), only 38% of small business owners reported receiving what they requested while just 12% of black and Latino business owners reported getting the aid they so desperately needed. 

Sanchez was relieved to hear about the PPP loan and reached out to his bank for support only to have his application pushed to the side. Optimism was restored when BBIF Florida, a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that focuses on black, minority, and underserved businesses, was able to secure Sanchez Coleman Studio a PPP loan. According to Sanchez, with the help of BBIF Florida, he was finally able to acquire much-needed payroll finances which helped protect nine jobs, and recover his business. 

“My experience with BBIF was so smooth and professional, but at the same time personal. I will never forget what BBIF made for us. They assisted us in this complicated application process and gave us fast answers in a time of uncertainty. I will always be thankful for that!” – Angel Sanchez, CEO of Sanchez Coleman Studio, LLC

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