ALLIS DE L’OUEST – Despite nearly 100,000 small businesses never open their doors again because of the pandemic, a woman from West Allis defies the odds.

“I love to decorate cakes”, Ana González, owner of Piece of Love Cake and Gift Shop mentionned. “The opportunity in that place presented itself and I was like, now is where I wait. The pandemic is here but I come back to my passion and my vision of where I want to see this in. next year or two or three years from now, even though it’s pandemic time, I need to open up. I want to open. I see something beyond that. “

For González, the secret to starting his business and making a quality baked product is the same. She needs the dough to be successful. While his hands can work with the ingredients to make delicious, sweet treats, the need for capital is essential.

Ana González

Ana González, owner of Piece of Love Cakes and Gifts in West Allis

“I saved money and my mom provided me with money,” González said.

Often, minority business owners are more dependent on their own cash reserves, family and friends than their white counterparts. González also benefited from a KIVA loan, a kind of crowdfunding loan program that can fill the gaps of traditional financial institutions.

These gaps are widening for certain groups of people. For González, she came from Mexico to this country through the law on the development, aid and education of foreign minors, known as the DREAM law. She was very young at the time, but her parents brought her family here to make the American dream come true.

Something González pursues through Piece of Love. She creatively bakes and decorates cakes, but also provides a number of other services, from floral arrangements with chocolate covered strawberries to cake pops and more.

“She brought us here because she saw possibilities for us,” González said. “The fact that she sees us achieving the goals that she had for us, I think she’s really, really proud.”

The struggle for people like González, in pursuit of this dream, is doing it from square one. With little equity, obtaining a traditional bank loan is almost impossible to acquire.

“In order for me to get a business loan, I’m told that I have to have a business and a business history for at least two years to get a loan,” González said. “How do you get a business loan when you don’t have it yet?” “

Add to that the disparities in homeownership, one of the main drivers of bank lending. The latest data from The Greater Milwaukee Foundation shows that 38.2% of Hispanic residents in Milwaukee own their homes. White residents have a homeownership rate in Milwaukee of 69.2%.

“There are cultural barriers, financial literacy,” Nelson Soler, President and CEO of Latino Chamber of Commerce mentionned. “Our communities are at least a generation behind when it comes to financial literacy and awareness and much the same when it comes to wealth accumulation.”

Latino Chamber of Commerce

The Latino Chamber of Commerce

Latino Chamber of Commerce provides training and education to help aspiring entrepreneurs turn their ideas into reality

Soler says that because many Latinos in the United States are first or second generation, they lack the formal training in areas like finance. He says that in Hispanic and Latin American regions, banking is also very different.

“The bank is not the same there as it is here,” Soler said. “People get credit based on their job, their last name, or whether people know who they are. They will give you credit. Here, it’s more rigid and more structured. It creates a barrier for people.

Soler, a former banker himself, says he would often get into trouble spending more time with certain clients, explaining and understanding the intricacies of what the person was signing up for.

“They assume you’re all here and understand what a financial statement is, what a cash flow is,” Soler said. “They speak their language, which is the language of the university college. It is not that we are not educated, but that we have to overcome the barriers to education in terms of financial sense and understand how they translate this simple concept of profit and loss for a person who has never heard talk about this concept. It’s unheard of to have to explain this sort of thing.

Through the Latino Chamber of Commerce, they offer technical training and finance education to help fill these gaps. This way, entrepreneurs like González don’t have to be alone in their quest to own a business. Additionally, Soler says they are working on becoming an alternative lender to provide more options for Latino entrepreneurs.

“We don’t have a lot of Latino lenders, especially on the business side,” Soler said. “It’s harder to bridge the gap between our culture and our business. “

Closing this gap will allow business owners to focus more on their passion. For González, she is constantly learning. If it’s not about new techniques for decorating and baking sweet treats, she’s taking a crash course in how to better TikTok a newly iced cake. Or, she updates a Square Space website even though she has little experience in it. All the while, she is learning the fundamentals of what a successful business is.

Ana González decorating cakes

González

González hopes to inspire other Latinas to pursue their dreams of opening their own businesses.

It’s an exhausting process, but she has never been happier. It is her passion and she is determined to succeed.

“When you have a passion it’s like, wow, it took me five or six hours and I still have three but I can do it,” González said. “I can finish it. When people get the cake or the arrangement, the smile I see, the way what I do makes them feel, it makes my spark shine throughout the day.”

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