SONIA ALVELO

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Sonia Alvelo, CEO of Latin Financial Will Appear on deBanked TV

October 6, 2021
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Sonia AlveloSonia Alvelo, CEO of Latin Financial, will join Sean Murray live on deBanked TV on Thursday at approximately 12:15pm EST. Latin Financial is based in Newington, CT and Alvelo has contributed valuable insight to deBanked over the years, particularly on the Puerto Rican small business finance market.

Anyone can tune in to debanked.com/tv/ for free without any registration to watch.

Who is Latin Financial?
A family owned and operated brokerage firm with a variety of backgrounds and expertise. We’re here to help all of our clients with their business’ unique financial needs. No loan is too big or too small for us; our goal is to simply help create a positive future for all of our clients. Here at Latin Financial, we understand that working capital can be difficult to obtain. With banks approving fewer and fewer loans, borrowing for your business’ future can be frightening and uncertain, especially in today’s economy. With Latin Financial you’re in good hands.

Latin Financial has over 10 years of business financial experience between its advisors.

We are at the forefront of this quickly changing economy and we work closely with our clients and investors because we are fully committed to meeting and exceeding expectations. We also believe in keeping our services affordable, working around your budget while never charging fees.

We are proud that so many of our clients have repeatedly turned to us for guidance and assistance with their business capital needs. We work hard to earn their loyalty every day.

Puerto Rican Businesses & People Resilient In Spite of Pandemic and Challenges, Says Alvelo

September 16, 2020
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Puerto Rico flagWhile the US economy slowly opens back up to careful in-person commerce, the territory of Puerto Rico is still facing rising case numbers- So how is business in the “Island of Enchantment?”

“I don’t think there’s anything that will shake the confidence of our small business owners in Puerto Rico,” said Sonia Alvelo, CEO of Latin Financial. “Businesses and the people of Puerto Rico are the most resilient I have ever known: I know that as I am one of them.”

Alvelo, a native to the island, has won awards as a top entrepreneur of the year for her business financing partnerships in the US and Puerto Rico. She said that even as the island faces its hardest challenges, the spirit of entrepreneurship remains unbroken.

Puerto Rico has been hit by irregular misfortune in the past couple of years. Destruction from Hurricane Maria and Irma damaged the 2017 infrastructure of the island immeasurably, and the response of the US government was painfully lacking. Commerce continued with caution, seeming to rebound. Then this year, earthquakes and aftershocks punctuated January and February, foreboding the coming storm.

The pandemic was slow to reach the island; Puerto Rico was the first US state/territory to impose a quarantine, banning business and all travel March 15th. The region is a territory of the United States, so it could not directly enforce control over its borders. Recently, Puerto Rico made the news with an increasing case count.

There’s also been the troublesome search for a new governor. After a mass protest, Governor Ricardo Rosselló stepped down last year. After his successor ‘appointment’ was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme court of Puerto Rico, Wanda Vazquez, the former Secretary of Justice, took office.

In the August primary, thousands of ballots got stuck in delivery trucks that did not move, never reached polling locations. The candidates are now petitioning for a re-vote and the counting of the votes that were cast. The courts are still deciding, so even the election is facing challenges in Puerto Rico.

Besides that, the tourism industry has been devastated. Though the early shut down saved lives, the island saw an unemployment rate of up to 23% in July alone. That could be a low estimate, considering that half of the Puerto Rican workforce hold a job in the “informal economy.” The New York Times reports that the real unemployment rate in the middle of the summer could have reached close to 40%.

Sonia Alvelo Award at the Latinas & Power Symposium
Above: Latin Financial CEO Sonia Alvelo receives the 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year Award from Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill

Even so, Alvelo conveyed the enduring willpower of the Puerto Rican people, that there was still confidence things would turn around. 

Alvelo is partnered with more than 97 pharmacies in Puerto Rico as an MCA provider, as well as with gas stations and other small businesses. She said that she has been receiving calls for business financing options non-stop, on a day-to-day basis. Alvelo shared information she learned from one of her clients.

“They suffered the most at the beginning, but you know only 5-10% of pharmacies in the islands are open,” Alvelo said. “But even still, and we’re talking a hurricane, earthquakes, a pandemic, everything- I still don’t think that anything will change the confidence of business owners in PR.”

“THAT WAS THE BEST EXPERIENCE, WHEN THEY GOT THE PPP FUNDS”

Alvelo is standing right next to Puerto Rican business owners, talking to them through their increasing needs during this time, she said. Latin Financial facilitated almost $2 million in PPP loans and $2 million in EIDL loans in the US and PR. 

“That was the best experience- when they got the PPP funds,” Alvelo said. “They were crying over the phone; it was incredible.”

Brendan Lynch, Alvelo’s fiancé and business partner, said that the program had a rough rollout. It was unclear how long the Fed money would last, but PPP ended up working well for Puerto Rican businesses. He even saw BlueVine begin funding Loans in PR for the first time.

“One of our finders here in the US was approved for the program, and we were able to use their online platform,” Lynch said. “And normally they don’t really fund in Puerto Rico, but they did allow Puerto Rican businesses to apply for funding; which is great because they had the technology to make it so simple and quick.”

Lynch said Latin Financial was sure to share links to a PPP loan application with every client to make sure aid funds were as accessible as possible.

“Businesses are probably still down-scaled somewhere between 60 to 70% of their total revenue,” Lynch said. “they’re still working shorthanded with less people in the office, and regulations on how many people you can have in your business are making it harder.”

Alvelo and Lynch are no strangers to environmental forces affecting their plans- the pair were planning on getting married in PR in 2017 before the hurricanes hit. 

Puerto Rico“We started actually looking [for a venue] again, and then COVID happened,” Alvelo said. “Clients were going to be invited and are always asking how they can help, just like when everything happened with COVID, the pharmacies all got together, and said if you need this let us know. Businesses are really working together because they know that they need each other.”

Maria Barzana, the owner of Farmacia Asturias, has been a longtime client of Latin Financial, one of the first dating back to 2015. Barzana went to Alvelo for help. She said the island did not feel an economic impact until this August. Businesses, including most medical offices in the country, have been closed for the past five months. Pharmacies are finally feeling it.

“At the beginning of COVID-19, we were able to manage the economic factor by invoicing refills of prescriptions and the sale of basic necessities related to COVID,” Barzana said. “Due to social distancing, the flow of clients/patients has decreased, concentrating on items necessary to combat COVID-19 and maintenance medications.”

Latin Financial is almost back to regular funding after rushing to help complete PPP and EIDL stimulus loans. Sonia Alvelo will be a panelist speaker this Sept. 24, for the annual Latinas & Power Symposium.

TikTok for Lead Generation? It’s Different

September 28, 2023
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tiktokToday, TikTok is no longer just a platform for dance challenges, but a marketing tool rivaling social media giants like LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook. But does it hold the same weight for this industry looking to attract clients?

“You have to have fun with it and tell [your target customer] the truth about how we work and what we can do for them, no exceptions, and they will understand and trust you,” said Sonia Alvelo, CEO at Latin Financial. “Get creative and have fun with it at the same time. This is a different beast.”

Alvelo signed her company up on TikTok this past year and said, “It’s attracting good business.” Managing the account herself, their content is educational while also highlighting the environment and work ethic of the company. Their TikToks feature playful moments like office lunch breaks turned into music videos, fun clips showcasing employee food preferences, and footage from panels Alvelo has participated in. And she makes sure to have some content available in both English and her native Spanish.

“It is more educational content, that way it will attract new clients and give us the advantage of teaching them about the industry,” said Alvelo. “We also highlight our work ethic, how we treat our employees and the environment in which we work at Latin Financial.”

Initially skeptical, Alvelo learned that many small businesses on TikTok are seeking funding but hesitate to approach traditional banks. She’s studied where those businesses are online and the potential opportunity to connect with them where they are, including LinkedIn, which she actually found less conducive to this type of dealmaking despite its business atmosphere. She gives a thumbs-up to Facebook, explaining that its personalized environment allows those potential customers to really see you and feel like they know you.

“…You can make a lot of money advertising your company and what you do,” she said of Facebook.

“Instagram is good but it’s a networking platform and if you invest the right way you get a lot of leads and turn that into funded deals,” said Alvelo. “TikTok is the new approach to get all the new businesses less than two years old. And why not? Maybe to others it’s not the way to go, but for me and Latin Financial we are here to educate and for businesses to have all the knowledge to continue to be in business for a long time.”

Meanwhile, Alex Cespedes, Business Development Specialist at Financial Lynx, mentioned that their active engagement on TikTok only started in March despite being on the app for a year. They showcase a range of content, from funding successes, to visiting offices, to their sponsorships of different events. Still trying to figure out how to maximize the effectiveness of it all, Cespedes stated that LinkedIn and Instagram have been their bread and butter so far. The content they create on Instagram later gets reposted on TikTok and he’s found that it’s been hit-or-miss.

“…TikTok has been a little lesson but I think it’s because no one’s kind of figured it out yet,” said Cespedes. “Even on Instagram I see other brokers and other financing companies that do well and their stuff gets views and you see engagement on their posts, but then even when you go over to their TikTok, if they have one at all, it’s much less.”

The reigning demographic for users on TikTok is ages 18-24, whereas their business owner clientele is predominantly in their 40s-50s. Cespedes explained that Instagram resonates more with their target demographic for now.

“…I think that’s what it is now, it’s just a little bit of a lack of alignment, the TikTok age range is still a little too young for our industry, at least not right in the center of it.”

Mental Health in The Funding Game

April 6, 2023
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stress reliefTechnology, finance, healthcare, sales, and marketing have all been reported to have the highest levels of employee stress and mental health issues. Eager, driven executives of this industry work around the clock to close deals, finance equipment, and conjur fresh new ideas. While alternative finance can be deemed the industry that never sleeps, the people pushing it forward should remember not to push themselves too hard. Prioritizing one’s mental health can often be found at the bottom of one’s checklist but should be the first thing assessed before starting the day.

“It is critical that we start really focusing in on understanding that mental health is part of every everything we do, every part of who we are, how we see ourselves, how we interact with others, how willing we are to take risks, how willing we are to be ambitious, and how forgiving we are of ourselves when we make mistakes,” said Nancy Robles, President at Eastern Funding LLC.

Success is an adrenaline rush and can be addicting if not managed properly. Jessica Garcia, CEO at Simplified Funding Solutions, at one point struggled to find a balance between her work and home life, leaving her feeling burnt out more days than some. She believed the more hours put in working on a deal the faster results she’d attain in return. Finding ways to regroup and reassess, she created her own methods within the workplace to cater to her mental health.

“I started doing like a lot of self-care within the workplace,” said Garcia. “So what I mean by that, as opposed to sitting at my desk and being glued to a hard phone on a conference call for an hour, I would just put it on my cell phone through my air pods, walk around, grab a stress ball, sightseeing, have meditation music in the background at a very low volume to help stimulate. I would turn on some candles to help with the aromatherapy and I noticed once I started doing those things, I was able to pace myself more and I was also happier…”

Meanwhile, For Nancy Robles, she’s not just the president of a company but also a full-time mother of five. The pressure of performing as a woman of color in this industry while juggling motherhood are constantly clashing and finding themselves at odds with one another. But as of late, Robles has learned to emphasize mental health into her daily routine.

“Over the past several years, I’ve prioritized my mental health and as I have prioritized my mental health that comes with a lot of self-care, a lot of healing,” said Robles. “I’m a big advocate for therapy, everybody should go to therapy. I’ve been going to therapy for seven years.”

work stressUnlike Robles and Garcia, finding a work/home life balance has its own unique twist for Sonia Alvelo whose fiancée is also her partner at work. And after 15 long years together they’ve managed to find stability between the two.

“Communication is big for us in everything that we do, in order to be better,” said Alvelo, CEO at Latin Financial. Administering daily mental health exercises in one’s routine can make all the difference but having the support of one’s employer can make an even bigger one.

Incorporating necessary steps and open communication in the workforce can help a team or staff to not feel as if they are being hammered by their 9 to 5. On this, Jessica Garcia has noticed companies moving in the right direction, implementing more group activities and break spaces for women especially as they are growing in number in the finance sector.

“We’re getting that softer, feminine touch, in regard to ‘it’s okay to take a day off if you’re over it, it’s okay to go home early if you’re just burnt out,’” said Garcia. “’It’s okay to ask for help if you’re overwhelmed and need assistance from the team to complete a task. It’s okay to be vulnerable, it’s okay to be human,’ we’re not robots, we’re not machines. And I think in the past two years, especially after the pandemic, we’re starting to see that synergy of being there for each other.”

Alvelo recognizes the significance mental health has within a company as a CEO. Weekly discussions with her team throughout the years has helped for a happy community life in her office.

“I have a responsibility as a CEO and I have a big one on top of that because I’m a Latina CEO. I have to bring things to the table that other companies may not talk about it or may not talk about enough.”

Success starts within oneself to achieve it anywhere else. In order to put your best foot forward in this industry take time, check in, and evaluate your mental health.

“One of the critical pillars of having any success in any type of career,” said Robles, “if you own your own company, if you want any successes, you want to have your relationships in your family, your relationship with yourself, which is the most important one, you really have to address mental health first.”

Monday through Fund-day

September 8, 2022
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business teamNothing screams excitement like a brand-new week filled with endless funding opportunities. Regardless of the type of funding, the ultimate goal is to find clients in need of capital and spring to action quickly.

“I would say Tuesday is like, a day that things get done,” said Michael Krepak, CEO of FlexCap Solutions. “People always talk about Friday’s a closing day. I’ve had a lot of success on Fridays as just like a funding day, like when the deals actually get done afterwards in all the underwriting and the back and forth and stipulations. So, Tuesdays and Fridays…”

Fridays may be hectic for some professionals in the business who are trying to close out a deal before the weekend is over. The pressure to close a deal can create competition within oneself to finish the week off strong or to make sure that nothing ruins it over the weekend.

“There’s always a push to get everyone funded right before the weekend, you don’t want deals rolling over,” said Brendan P. Lynch, CEO at Sharpe Capital. “Too many things can happen: negative days, they can go negative, and then the login, they have to redo it. And you know, the deal can die on Monday. So, you always want to get everything done before the weekend. That’s for sure.”

For equipment finance consultant Cheryl Tibbs, if she is able to finish funding by Thursday, she uses Fridays to either spend quality time with loved ones or to promote her business.

“I’m a bit different than most. I start off strong on Mondays and relax on Friday,” said Tibbs. “When I’m done Thursday, late Thursday evening, Friday is reserved for deals that will fund that day. If I don’t have anything booked for a Friday funding, I usually chill on Fridays and use that for marketing or family time.”

Sonia Alvelo of Latin Financial was non-committal to a day. “What gets us excited is the satisfaction of a job well done…” Alvelo said.

Krepak meanwhile, explained that if you’re working on commission, then there is an incentive to keep going strong every day. “Like every day, you want to do something every day,” he said. “It’s just a competitive face to begin with.”

Grand Opening of Latin Financial’s New Office Joined by Public Officials, Family, and Friends

June 4, 2022
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Connecticut Farm Bureau BuildingJust a few miles outside of Hartford, cars exited the highway and advanced towards a quieter part of Connecticut. The aptly named “Beaver Road” is home to Wethersfield’s US Postal Service building on one side and the Connecticut Farm Bureau building on the other. Drivers veered towards the latter and pulled into a parking lot situated behind a literal babbling brook. There are other tenants besides the Farm Bureau in the expansive brown-bricked commercial-use building as indicated by a sign outside, but the business that people had come to celebrate hadn’t even been added to it yet.

Nevertheless, the blue and white balloons waving in the wind outside the back entrance were a clue that this was the right place. Inside, on the first floor, a line of people found the large plated logo of Latin Financial, a small business that helps other small businesses obtain working capital.

Already personally acquainted with the firm led by Sonia Alvelo, she led myself and others on a tour of the company’s new space. Latin Financial employees were easily identifiable by their blue company shirts, but others wore green to signal that they were part of a sister company named Sharpe Capital. Sharpe is spearheaded by Brendan P. Lynch.

Both brands previously operated in nearby Newington but outgrew what they had. When the ceremony officially kicked off with some impromptu speeches, the prominence of those assembled became evident. It included, among others, the Better Business Bureau, the local Chamber of Commerce, and the Connecticut Children’s Hospital.

Wethersfield’s mayor, Michael Rell, was also there. Rell welcomed Latin Financial to the neighborhood, echoing the note sang by other government officials.

Connecticut State Senator Matthew Lesser shared his appreciation for Alvelo and her company’s mission to provide capital to underserved small businesses both in the state and across the nation. Lesser explained that the state legislature had recently decided to delay a proposed commercial financing bill (Senate Bill 272) so that it could further assess the input from companies like Latin Financial and the potential impact it would have before moving forward. A version of the bill will be reintroduced next year.

Meanwhile, Joseph Rodriguez, Deputy State Director for US Senator Richard Blumenthal’s office, said that he was impressed by the company’s accomplishiments and contributions to the community. He presented Alvelo with a Certificate of Special Recognition signed by Blumenthal in honor of her new office and for her service to Connecticut Small Businesses.

Latin Financial Grand Opening

Werner Oyanadel, Latino and Puerto Rican Policy Director at the Connecticut General Assembly’s Commission on Women, Children, Seniors, Equity & Opportunity, said that Alvelo had “been a good partner of [their] work at the Capitol” and that “Latin Financial is filling a big void assisting new businesses and Latino entrepreneurs’ access to needed reources.”

Employees of both Latin Financial and Sharpe appeared excited by all the fanfare while friends and family members were proud to share in the moment. Alvelo ceremoniously cut a blue ribbon for the cameras and in conversations that followed it became known that they were hiring.

Alvelo has previously spoken at Broker Fair in New York and deBanked CONNECT Miami. She has been a primary source of information for deBanked since 2016 on matters regarding small business financing in Puerto Rico.

The SBA’s 2022 Women’s Business Summit is Fast Approaching

March 7, 2022
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SBA LoansIn honor of Women’s History Month, the US Small Business Administration (SBA) will host it’s 2022 Women’s Business Summit on March 28-30. It will include virtual panels, “Ask an Expert” workshops and fireside chats. In-person salon/listening sessions will be held by local and regional hosts. The goal is to help women-owned small businesses grow and thrive.

The event will be held by the SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership (OWBO) in co-sponsorship with the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center. Established in 1979 in response to an executive order, the Office of Women’s Business Ownership has encouraged women entrepreneurs to be active participants in the economy. It is specifically aimed at those who have been historically under-served or excluded.

Women have made great progress in growing businesses and jobs throughout the past few decades but challenges still remain. The SBA recognizes the significance of creating opportunities for women. In October of 2010 the SBA launched a summit series focused on women entrepreneurs that started with a kickoff event at the White House.

Isabella Casillas Guzman, Administrator of the SBA, will be presenting the Summit. Guzman previously served as Director of the California Office of the Small Business Advocate. In this role she served as the voice of small business and innovative startups in the 5th largest economy in the world. Guzman and her team connected entrepreneurs in every community with the necessary resources.

Natalie Madeira Cofield, Assistant Administrator of the Office of Women’s Business Ownership, SBA, will be speaking as well, along with a representative from the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center and other notable speakers and business leaders that have not yet been confirmed.

Previous speakers have included Rola E. Chami, Diane Winston, Sonia Alvelo, Kasey Corsello and others.

The 2022 Women’s Business Summit will present women entrepreneurs with the tools necessary to be successful within their businesses.

Latin Financial Launches First Lending Podcast in ‘Spanglish’

February 4, 2022
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Sonia AlveloIn an inaugural move for small business financing this week, Latin Financial launched the first ‘Spanglish’ podcast for funders, lenders, merchants, and brokers titled the Latin Financial Podcast. Hosted by the company’s CEO Sonia Alvelo and co-hosted by Underwriter Ruth Alustiza, Latin Financial hopes to create an open forum of discussion and education about how Latino-owned businesses can get access to different types of financial products; all in two different languages.

“It was so much fun, but so scary,” said Alvelo, when asked about her experience recording on her first episode. “[I’m doing this] to make sure the merchants and clients have and will have the right information, I know I’m breaking barriers of languages, it’s the right thing to do.”

While still in its infancy, Alvelo is expecting the show to take off. Her target audience among merchants is a growing group of Latino-owned small businesses who have been historically underbanked. Offering episodes in both English and Spanish, the podcast hopes to not only educate the show’s listeners on how small business lending works, but also hopes to serve as a crash course in either Spanish or English for those who are already members of the non-bank finance world.

The show will have funders, lenders, merchants, and staff of Latin Financial on as guests, according to Alvelo. The show has begun a stream of content that will be released on a regular basis that is being uploaded on platforms like Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify.

“We are doing one episode per week, said Alvelo. “We’re going to add guests, they are already asking me to attend, and lenders. I’ll be doing back and forth, Spanish and English for sure.”

Alvelo seems confident that the show can separate itself from the countless other finance podcasts that exist. With a dynamic of two languages, two cultures, complex financial products, and revolving guests, it seems as if Latin Financial has discovered a niche in the business media space. “The audience can listen in Spanglish about what we do to help business owners in the United States and Puerto Rico. It’s a new way to stay informed, get educated on updated programs in the financing Industry, all in two languages,” Alvelo said. “It’s Spanish and English, equals Spanglish!”

A weblink to the show can be found here.