Latina Community Builder Marcela Shine Talks Capital

Marcela Shine is the Head of Community with Ureeka, where small businesses can gain unprecedented access to the expertise needed to grow their business. Marcela was born in Colombia is a builder of products, communities, and companies. The Latina community builder more has more than twenty-five years of experience in helping companies optimize operations, transform marketing processes, and improve company culture. We, at BoldLatina are incredibly excited to catch up with Marcela, a leading Latina in the entrepreneurship space.

We will learn more about Marcela’s passion for catapulting Latinx entrepreneurship – and in particular how Ureeka partnered with the HIP Power Up Fund $5K Grant opportunity – available to 500 eligible Latino small businesses in New York, California, and Texas.

How did you get your start with entrepreneurship, becoming a Latina community builder wanting to build ecosystems for small businesses/startups? What fires you up about this space?

I have been working with startups for over fifteen years; my interest in start-ups started when I worked with the mergers and acquisitions team in corporate. I loved how fast ideas moved from inception to launch so I jumped into a marketing technology company as employee number 3. I’ve been a co-founder twice now, and am an angel investor and advisor to other start-ups. The entire time I worked primarily with men that had private equity experience. When I was fundraising I found it extremely difficult to watch as those around me with a deep network (of connected peers) got funded faster.

As women started to point out the inequalities and difficulties in getting funded, I started to pay more attention to how this was affecting underrepresented communities. As a Latina, I wanted to share my experience with others. As I set out to do that, I met the Ureeka team. It was then that I deeply understood how difficult access can be for underrepresented entrepreneurs. It also expanded my thinking outside of traditional equity-backed start-ups and into the small business sector. This was all right before the pandemic hit. And then… Well, the rest is history. An important job turned into a critical service, and if my kids didn’t pull me off the computer daily, I think I’d be working 24/7 to drive Ureeka’s mission.


This has been a tough year for ALL businesses hitting the Latinx community possibly the hardest. What are some ways that Latinx small businesses can anticipate and possibly hedge themselves for the future?

According to a JP Morgan Chase Institute , in all majority Black or Hispanic communities, most small businesses had fewer than twenty-one cash buffer days – and that was before COVID. Twenty-one. Let that settle in for a second. It was such a blow to my gut when I read that. That’s just NOT enough for a small business to make it during a downturn. But for so many in our community, this is the only reality they know.

So, if there is only one lesson as a Latina community builder, I would like our community to learn from – it’s all about cash position. Melissa Bradley (our co-founder) talks about “3 C’s”: cash, contracts, compensation. Maximizing the first two (cash, contracts) allows small businesses to protect their most valuable asset – their people (compensation). Keeping them on payroll is what will keep our workforce moving forward when things get tough.

What challenges historically have Latinx small businesses often faced when it comes to access to business training as well as financing for their businesses?

The 2017 Stanford University report, “State of Latino Entrepreneurship”, found that only 12% of Latino-owned businesses access bank loans. Latinx small businesses owners often rely on non-traditional sources of credit such as predatory, high-interest payday loans. Once the business owners do get access to the capital, then the relationships aren’t there to potentially help them manage through the decisions they need to make to stretch those dollars in the right way. We need the entire ecosystem to work together – access to the right capital and the right resources (coaching/networks).

For a small business owner/founder to have a successful business, what three factors should they possess?

Financial planning: a sound cash plan is most important. If your projections are asking for a certain amount of investment for the first 6 months of business, double it. It always takes longer than people think to get product-market fit or get consistency in the revenue model. (2) Put your relationships to work for you!! Look for ways to get creative with sponsorships, partnerships, and organic marketing before spending. (3) Build your network. As you are planning for your business, surround yourself with a strong community. Advisors, mentors, coaches – whatever you want to call them – but invest time into those relationships. Experience matters and those are the people that might be able to pull you out of a “stuck” moment emotionally or when decisions don’t seem to be driving the right outcomes.

Tell us more about HIP’s Power Up Fund. What are the criteria for our Latinx small business
owners? Why does this matter in today’s environment? What more can potential recipients expect besides the grant?

The PowerUp Fund from Hispanics in Philanthropy looks to leverage philanthropic dollars and private capital to build power and wealth, restore opportunity and spur economic growth for Latinx communities across the U.S. Ureeka’s Community Impact Lead, Nancy Santiago, is co-founder of the fund, and is tirelessly connecting opportunities to support Latino businesses. She is a Latina community builder for for profit and non profit organizations. 

Criteria for the grants for the fund vary depending on the different programs released by the different partnerships. For example, the recent Google.org collaboration with the PowerUp Fund has specific states that were eligible for the grant program (New York, California, Texas). But what is most important about the grant opportunity is that the eligibility requirements are simple, and the grants included mentoring/coaching as a part of the program.

 

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Latinx businesses contribute over 700 billion dollars to the economy annually, yet founders in the community historically receive negligible investment and barriers so access result in a lack of the tools and mentorship that helps other businesses thrive. Its time to flip the script. The folks at Google.org have made a $3M grant to @behipgive ‘s PowerUp Fund. Together, the PowerUp Fund and Ureeka will aim to do more than simply help Latinx founders grow their business, but build the skills to continue that growth in the future. Applications for this 5,000 grant and intensive mentoring program are open 09/15 – 10/14 to businesses in California, Texas and New York. Apply at the link in our bio! #poweruplatinx #powerupfund #grantprogram #hispnicheritagemonth #juntosganamos #supportlatinxbusiness #supportlatinobusiness #latinx #latinoentrepreneur #latinofounder #closethegap #latinastartup

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Tell us about Ureeka’s unique approach to supporting small businesses to become sustainable. What makes Ureeka stand out compared to other communities?

Ureeka is about capacity building. We are here to leverage our resources to help underrepresented entrepreneurs improve professional skills, expand reach, and increase access to opportunity. We know that money alone can not help entrepreneurs in this unprecedented time, and that’s why our platform empowers entrepreneurs with coaching and mentoring throughout their entrepreneurial journey.

When you join, there are real people with similar experiences there to support our members. That’s what I love the most and find most rewarding – the diverse group of people working together to solve this problem.

Any advice for today’s BoldLatinas out there who might have a small business they would like to grow and scale?

I talk to a lot of entrepreneurs that have been trying to get their business to grow without a business or marketing plan in place to test against. While some of us have great intuition, a written plan is critical. Otherwise, you are flying blind. That’s a key starting point for any of us.

What are you personally and professionally looking forward to in 2021?

Personally, I pray that my kids can go back to social environments where they can thrive. While we’ve handled the quarantine really well as a family, kids need time to mature away from their parents and I really hope that can happen soon. I also look forward to restarting my philanthropic efforts in Colombia, where I was supporting rural schools near Medellin with funding.

Professionally, my goal is to create a community full of real connections that drive success. Creating real-world connections in this digital world has been challenging but full of rewarding new relationships. I want Ureeka to feel like a digital home away from home for entrepreneurs. This involves not just the business lessons but the personal support our community really needs to thrive post-COVID.

What is your opinion, makes someone a BoldLatina?

Being bold to me means being selfless. Not being afraid to show the world who you are, and what you’ve done for the benefit of others takes courage. Sometimes it may seem like what we’ve done is minimal in comparison to others, but every example matters. Putting ourselves out in the world to support each other is a bold expression of love and support.

That’s the bold version of me that I want my boys to be proud of.

Learn More On How You Can Qualify For The PowerUp Fund.

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