Carmen Sanchez is a typical WVF client—a minority woman determined to grow her business in order to support her family and provide an income for retirement. She is also an immigrant, joining the legions of foreign-born that come to the U.S. with the dream of becoming small business owners. (Did you know that immigrants are more likely to be self-employed than native-born citizens?) Carmen and her husband, a retiree, have two children—a daughter at medical school and a son who works for the business. She came to the U.S. from Columbia 15 years ago and like many immigrants initially took on jobs as a domestic, janitorial worker and factory worker to make ends meet.
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.
Sanchez attributes the success of her business to WVF advisory services
With an increase in rent looming in 2013, Carmen was compelled to find more affordable space in the area. She turned to the WVF for business planning advice and working capital. After confirming that Carmen was making the right move to a space on the corner of a busy intersection, a WVF business advisor helped her resolve a legal issue with her former landlord who was making it very difficult for her to terminate her lease as planned.
“I would not have been able to take this next step in growing my business without funding from WVF and the guidance of its staff.—Carmen Sanchez
The WVF advisor provided guidance on how best to secure bids for the floor plans of the new location; and with a WVF loan, Carmen renovated the new space to be more attractive and functional than her prior location and was able to implement her expansion plans and become a multi-service business. Universal Frontiers, moved into its new location in January, 2013; and is on track to exceed its annual revenue projections. Carmen credits WVF for her firm’s success. “The WVF is an organization that I trust, and feel comfortable reaching out to for assistance.”