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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