America’s economic future rests on the backs of small businesses, and three out of every four new businesses are started by Latinos, said Javier Palomarez, president and CEO of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
As they grow, they are vulnerable to credit card fraud.
Palomarez, whose organization represents 3.2 million Latino-owned businesses, will visit Sacramento Thursday to explain new technology from credit card giant Visa that’s designed to cut down on fraud. He will be the keynote speaker at the Small Business Symposium hosted by the chamber’s Sacramento chapter at Holiday Inn Capitol Plaza from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Partnering with the Hispanic chamber, Visa has embarked on a 20-city tour to familiarize small businesses with the company’s new chip technology, which has been used in Europe for years and substantially reduces the risk of fraud.
“We’ve heard of huge disasters of cybersecurity breaches with Target, Home Depot and others,” Palomarez said. “That doesn’t put huge companies out of business, but small businesses can be crippled by a single cybersecurity infraction.”
Businesses will have to buy or lease Visa’s new credit card readers by Oct. 1, or assume liability for fraudulent transactions, Palomarez said. The new readers won’t cost more than the old ones, he said. Fifty-two percent of Latino-owned businesses take Visa, which guarantees 100 percent fraud coverage with no liability to the card holder, Palomarez said.
“Using your standard card with a magnetic strip, the information can be lifted or copied, but the new card with the chip makes it nearly impossible to copy,” he said.
Palomarez, the youngest of 10 children from a south Texas family, said his relatives now own accounting firms, construction companies and a trucking business. They are part of an exploding roster of Latino-owned businesses with annual sales estimated at $468 billion in 2013, according to the Hispanic chamber.
That’s not surprising because Latinos are known for their entrepreneurial spirit, said Sacramento Hispanic Chamber President Cathy Rodriguez. “We often began as immigrants starting a new life, and left everything we have known, including our language and culture, and we’re not afraid to take the risk of starting a new business because we often have nowhere to go but up,” she said. “It might be risky but it’s something you have control over, and now it’s part of the Latino legacy. If your mom or dad had a small business, that can be your pathway to opportunity.”
Visa has already held workshops in Texas and Orlando, and considers Sacramento – which now has the 11th largest Latino population in America – a key market, said Rodriguez, whose chamber includes 650 members, 73 percent of them businesses with 20 or fewer employees. Three-quarters of the businesses offer services in Spanish, said membership director Veronica Delgado.
There are now about 330,000 Latinos living in Sacramento County, about 22 percent of the population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The symposium will also help connect small businesses with potential big customers, including California State University Sacramento, SMUD and other public agencies that need printing, construction, janitorial, catering and IT services.
For more information or to register on line, go to http://www.sachcc.org/2015/05/04/shcc-small-business-symposium/ Tickets are $45 for members, $60 for nonmembers. Luncheon is included.