My name is Anahi Rojas, I am a Fellow with Prospera and Founder of Professional Eco Cleaning (PEC). I have been looking forward to writing this blog and planting a seed of hope in the midst of this pandemic. My frustration is no different from what a multitude of entrepreneurs are experiencing.
2020 arrived, and we were filled with enthusiasm at PEC, it was our year. We had grown by 70% in 2019 and we thought of nothing else except that this is “the year of growth.” In January we acquired a loan so that we could employ more people and be able to “advance to the next level.” In February we moved out of my home office into a professional space and launched a new operations position. By the first week of March, we were training a new member of the cleaning team with the prospect of ending the year with four new employees and bonuses for everyone. The second week of March arrived and with it the shelter in place order — our services abruptly stopped.
We had no idea what to do. Some of our clients kept paying us even though we weren’t providing services, what a relief! We started looking for options. I was the first to receive a loan from Kiva in response to COVID-19, which helped pay my employees for a month.
I have continued to apply nonstop for private grants and government assistance. However, there are too few resources for so many who have been impacted. Unfortunately, we have received many rejections, and we don’t know if we can survive for long. I have committed myself to my employees to support them during this time, however, I am sometimes afraid of going into too much debt and not be able to financially sustain PEC or myself.
Many applications for assistance do not address the real needs of Latina entrepreneurs such as providing forms in Spanish, taking into consideration immigration status, and prioritizing businesses that have not historically had access to capital. Prospera addresses our real needs in the short term, and in the long term they are committed to leveling the playing field.
For now, I count on the privilege of being a Prospera Fellow and receive monthly support, which definitely brings me peace of mind. I realize that there are many small entrepreneurs like me who do not have this privilege and they are struggling with all their might to make it through this pandemic. This is why I invite you to support the Latina Entrepreneur Resiliency Fund and give some light to immigrant Latinas who have already surpassed many barriers, and now this pandemic threatens to destroy their dreams.