Maria Martinez at her business in Panorama City, Pura Agua Lupita, a purified water retail store
The North Valley BusinessSource Center (BSC) helped entrepreneurs Francisco Romero and wife Maria Martinez refinance predatory loans, gain a better understanding of sales tax regulations and improve their overall business plan and strategy.

Francisco and Maria own Pura Agua Lupita, a Panorama City retail corner store whose primary product is purified water. Maria runs and manages the store, which has been open since 2004.

They came to the North Valley BusinessSource Center office asking for assistance to get a loan because they had multiple predatory loans that were resulting in serious cash flow issues for their business, due to high interest rates and an aggressive repayment schedule.

In an initial needs assessment the business coach identified several areas that the BusinessSource Center could provide assistance: sales tax regulations, business operations, refinancing of the predatory loans and overall business planning and strategy.

In her first meeting, Maria learned that she was overpaying on sales taxes due to the mis-categorization of several revenue streams. After learning about the different tax rates applied to different product types, she worked with her husband to refine their bookkeeping methods to document the different revenue streams and report sales taxes accurately, thus minimizing their sales tax liability and resulting in cash flow savings.

Maria then participated in the BSC’s Business Plan Workshop series conducted in Spanish to focus on refining her pricing strategy. The North Valley BSC also worked with the clients to identify an appropriate lender and to package their financial documents.

The couple was approved for a $7,500 loan from Opportunity Fund that allowed them to refinance a number of their high interest rate debts that varied between 34 percent to 112 percent APR. Maria confirmed that the new loan was able to save them over 41 percent on their monthly payments and a reduction potential of about 75 percent on the interest.

Through the cash flow savings of refinancing the loan as well as the sales tax modifications, the company was able to save one job.

EWDD’s BusinessSource and WorkSource Centers offer a variety of Business Services, including several Financial and Development Incentive Programs and a Small Business Loan Program. Learn how EWDD can help.

This story is part of the EWDD UPDATES from the week of March 18, 2019. Read this issue and more.