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WVF Entrepreneur Stories

Carmen Sanchez, Universal Frontiers

Carmen Sanchez is like many WVF clients—a minority woman determined to grow her business to support her household, further the ambitions of her children and provide herself an income for retirement. She came to the U.S. from Columbia 18 years ago and like many immigrants initially took on jobs as a domestic, janitorial worker and factory worker to make ends meet. Carmen and her husband, now a retiree, have two children—a daughter who is a doctor and a son who works for the business.

Back in 2001, knowing how difficult it was for her and other immigrants to stay in touch with their families in Columbia, she purchased phone minutes in bulk and resold portions to her co-workers who couldn’t afford to buy the calling cards on their meager wages. From this humble beginning, she established a thriving calling center business in an area heavily populated by immigrants with a need to communicate with family and friends back home. Carmen further diversified, becoming the exclusive agent for Western Union in the neighborhood. This proved to be a lucrative revenue stream bringing in approximately one-third of her gross income.

Today Universal Frontier is thriving in its financial services business. WVF funded Carmen’s relocation to a more attractive space at a busy intersection in Far Rockaway.
Legal advisors helped her resolve issues with the previous landlord to facilitate the move; and provided guidance on securing bids for the floor plans for her new location.
Carmen attributes the success of her relocation and expansion of services to cover
travel arrangements, bill payments, money transfers. Carmen went on to secure a license as a broker for life, health, property and casualty insurance. Currently, she is working with WVF to identify insurance companies willing to partner with her business through an equitable partnership.

“I would not have been able to take this next step in growing my company without funding from WVF and the guidance of its staff,” she says.