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Hector Barreto Wants Hispanic Entrepreneurs to Tap More Loans

Hector V. Barreto testifies before the Senate on April 6, 2006, in Washington, D.C.
Hector V. Barreto testifies before the Senate on April 6, 2006, in Washington, D.C.Photograph by Lawrence Jackson/AP Photo

Since 2002 the number of Hispanic-owned businesses in the U.S. has doubled, to 3.2 million, according to Geoscape, and research from Nielsen shows Hispanic purchasing power is approaching $1.5 trillion (PDF). Despite that growth, Hector Barreto, former Small Business Administration chief and chairman of the research and policy nonprofit Latino Coalition, says Hispanic entrepreneurs face hurdles accessing financing. “Capital is oxygen,” he says. “It’s the air that small businesses breathe when they’re starting and growing.”

Later today, Barreto and Paul Quintero, executive director of microlender Accion East, will be talking about business funding for Hispanics during a webinar hosted by lending matchmaker Biz2Credit. That session begins at 3 p.m. Eastern time. I spoke recently to Barreto about the lending landscape. An edited transcript of that conversation follows.