Hispanic Heritage Month: Pawtucket Latino business owner overcomes loan hurdles

PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WLNE) — There are currently 857 Hispanic owned business in Rhode Island, accounting for 30% of all businesses in the state.

“The crisis — despite COVID-19 and all the problems, the Latino business community hasn’t stopped,” said Oscar Mejias, president of the Rhode Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Cookies, designed differently, are seen freshly out of the oven at Key Treats in Pawtucket. (WLNE)

However, Hispanic business owners face specific challenges, especially when it comes to getting the money to turn ideas into storefronts, they must overcome to be successful.

Glenda Pagan, who’s the owner of Key Treats in Pawtucket, is seen making cookies. (WLNE)

“The Latino community around the country has been finding those barriers, additional to the language, the access to capital has been critical during the last 10-15 years,” he said.

A member of that community is Puerto Rican Pawtucket resident Glenda Pagan, who’s the owner of Key Treats — a shop making cookies and deserts for weddings and other events.

Cookies are seen displayed at Key Treats in Pawtucket. (WLNE)

“I’ve been in Rhode Island for 25 years and I’ve always wanted to open a small shop,” she said.

Pagan’s shop came from humble beginnings. She ran her business from her own home and said she and other Hispanic owners have had trouble getting approved for loans.

Glenda Pagan, who’s the owner of Key Treats in Pawtucket, is seen on a laptop working on a design for her cookies. (WLNE)

“It’s a little more difficult getting that first loan and even getting a loan to expand our business and getting that trust from people to trust us to do the right thing,” said Pagan.

But with the help of a $5,000 microloan from the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Pagan’s business now has its own location and more resources to build her brand.

A cookie is seen under a printer being designed at Key Treats in Pawtucket. (WLNE)

“It allowed me to buy a printer that prints directly to the cookies, it allowed me to expand the business in the direction I’ve always wanted,” she said.

While Hispanic business account for a third of the population, Pagan said there is still room for growth of other Hispanic entrepreneurs like herself.

Glenda Pagan, who’s the owner of Key Treats in Pawtucket, is seen holding freshly made cookies. (WLNE)

“Don’t give up. Don’t give up, and don’t look at it as a competition. We’re all here to together and willing to help which makes us unique,” she said.

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