Asked what they see as the biggest obstacle to Hispanic-owned business growth today, most Influentials (61.9 percent) see lack of access to capital. "It's always a challenge getting some capital for the little guys," says Victor Lopez, senior vice-president of field operations for Hyatt Hotels Corp. in Coral Gables, Florida. "But I think the little guys have a better chance of raising some capital to start a business [in Miami] than they may have in maybe Milwaukee, as an example, or Indianapolis."
Amador Bustos, CEO of Bustos Media in Sacramento, California, says he did not have a hard time raising money for his two major business ventures. Mr. Bustos borrowed $3 million in 1992 to build three Spanish-language radio stations in Northern California. That company eventually owned 32 stations before Mr. Bustos sold it. He later raised $100 million in private equity to fund Bustos Media, which owns 23 radio stations and provides programming to 46 affiliates.
Mr. Bustos advises that, in order to raise capital, Hispanic professionals must be willing to give up a portion of ownership, something he says many Hispanics have a hard time doing because they think that means they don't own the company. "It is your business because you manage it, you control it," he says. "One has to be prepared to give up equity in order to have your business funded – and in many cases substantial equity."
When the Influentials were asked which type of funding they believe Hispanic companies most commonly use, a near majority (47.6 percent) named family and friends while only 19 percent listed equity funding. An equal 19 percent listed federal funding, 9.5 percent listed home equity, and another 7.1 percent named credit cards. And as the quest for capital becomes more important, the percentage of Influentials citing a lack of management/financial education as an obstacle to business growth zoomed from just 2.5 percent of responses in 2004 to 52.4 percent in 2005.
Politics and Parties
The percentage of Influentials identifying with the two major political parties declined this year, despite the obvious progress of Hispanics in government. For example, in Southern California, Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa, Los Angeles County Board Chair Gloria Molina, and California Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez form a triumvirate of Hispanic Influentials. In New York, 23-year-old City Councilman Joel Rivera points toward the city's Hispanic future.
In response to the question "Which party best represents the interests of Hispanic Americans?" 45.2 percent of the responding Influentials chose the Democratic Party, up insignificantly from 42.5 percent in 2004. Votes for the Republican Party dropped from 30.0 percent to 9.5 percent – while votes for "none" more than tripled, from 7.5 percent in 2004 to 23.8 percent, and votes for "other" increased from 2.5 percent to 9.5 percent. Overall, affiliation with the two major parties dropped sharply from 72.5 percent of respondents in 2004 to 54.8 percent in 2005.
"The only thing I can think of is a trust issue, that no one is really watching out for the Latino community," says Ms. Nieves-Powell, CEO of Latino Flavored Productions, an English-language multimedia entertainment company in New York. She admits she doesn't have much interest in politics, and "I guess what would make me more interested in knowing more about politics is if I heard, or if I felt, someone was speaking to me, to my needs," she says. "And I never, ever, ever hear that."
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