LARGO, Fla. — Entrepreneur Daisy Bedoya is facing tough times. Like many other small business owners both Hispanic and otherwise across the country, she’s been slammed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, she’s determined to keep fighting and not give up.
Bedoya, 66, says she can barely pay her bills and keep open GraphX Designs & Concepts, the business she started 16 years ago in Largo, on Florida’s west coast. The company sells promotional products for businesses and events, and sales of such items have been in a slump due to pandemic-related restrictions.
“I have survived so far, but it is challenging. There are no sales, but one has to pay bills, rent, electricity and supplies,” said the Panamanian businesswoman, who runs the business by herself, or sometimes with the help of her son.
The pandemic has turned into a double whammy for Latino small businesses, which already faced “systemic barriers” to access resources and financing, according to a new study by Small Business Majority.
Despite federal and state efforts to provide emergency funding, small businesses continue to suffer heavy losses. As a result, many have been forced to make tough decisions to stay afloat, according to the organization’s report.
Bedoya insists she won’t close.
“I’ve lived from it, and I wouldn’t want to close it because if I do, life will be even more difficult,” said Bedoya, who was one of the 300 entrepreneurs participating in Small Business Majority’s study.
The businesswoman said that last summer, she applied for federal aid and was approved for a Paycheck Protection Program loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration, but not for the amount she needed to face several months of crisis.
“I wish the money had lasted longer, but it didn’t,” said Bedoya.
Now that the federal government has made more emergency resources available, she is planning to apply for another PPP loan but says more needs to be done. The maximum amount that a company can borrow is 2.5 times its average monthly payroll costs.
“We need a long-term plan from Congress that helps vulnerable businesses. Another PPP loan is a bandage to keep us from sinking, but what will happen when the funds run out?”
Despite all the challenges, the entrepreneur sees the future in a positive light.
“I feel quite healthy, despite being 66 years old. I am a woman who likes to work, and I know that as long as I am healthy, I will keep going.”
Daisy Bedoya, una empresaria que no se da por vencida en estos tiempos de pandemia was first published in Negocios Now.
(Translated and edited by Gabriela Olmos. Edited by Melanie Slone and Matthew B. Hall))