“During this pandemic, I have learned to enjoy life much more.”
Not a common reaction in 2020. Especially for a small-business owner who’s been through so much.
But Mayoli Guerra’s heart is full. Her days are, too, including when her workday ends. She’s a caregiver to her mother – and her community.
All have needed her support – and have offered valuable perspective.
“The greatest challenge has been the unpredictability of the situation,” said Guerra of the rollercoaster presented by COVID-19 right after she and her husband, Homero, launched their Two Maids and a Mop franchise. The business, based in suburban Houston, opened in February and provides residential cleaning.
“Some of our clients have lost their jobs,” Mayoli shared, somberly. “Others are working from home and have children studying at home. Many were concerned about having people in their home. We’ve done everything we can to provide the best service and experience possible. Our team has been very good at adapting.”
That adaptability – combined with discovering PeopleFund, a community development financial institution (CDFI) helping small businesses like theirs – has been a game changer for the Guerras. While researching financial options, they came across PeopleFund’s work in providing low-interest loans, online education and technical resources.
“We had limited experience and resources in just starting our business,” Mayoli Guerra recalled. “We learned there are so many great resources available. We needed to keep our employees, and PeopleFund helped us do that.”
It’s important to Regions Bank to collaborate with CDFIs on programs that result in stronger small businesses, and, in turn, stronger communities. Earlier this year, the Regions Foundation, a nonprofit initiative of the bank, presented a $100,000 grant to PeopleFund in support of financial relief for entrepreneurs amid the pandemic.
“Small-business owners like the Guerras pour everything they have into achieving their dreams,” said Marta Self, executive director of the Regions Foundation. “By supporting PeopleFund, we can help entrepreneurs access capital that is greatly needed, along with other resources. That’s always important, but it’s especially so right now with the challenges resulting from COVID-19.”
And it’s especially important for the Regions Foundation to work with organizations like PeopleFund, which specifically reaches companies that are often underserved.
The support we received from the Regions Foundation has been key in our response to help small businesses.
Gustavo Lasalo, president and chief executive officer of PeopleFund
“The negative impacts of this crisis have been particularly pervasive among minorities and low- and moderate-income communities,” said Gustavo Lasalo, president and chief executive officer of PeopleFund. “The support we received from the Regions Foundation has been key in our response to help small businesses stay afloat, create jobs and position their operations in the best possible way for the recovery ahead.”
Thanks to PeopleFund, Mayoli Guerra and her husband are doing just that. They recently added a fifth employee and are focused on expanding their client base.
“We have been blessed with a great manager and a team that works tirelessly,” Guerra said. “They are very enthusiastic and positive. We are surrounded by great teamwork in our business.”
Grateful for what her community has given her, Guerra gives back. When she isn’t running Two Maids and a Mop, she volunteers for two churches, helping in the food pantry at one and teaching English as a Second Language courses at another. Serving helps her maintain perspective.
“During this time, I find joy in knowing that I can help people who are going through very difficult times,” she said. “It’s important to have connections, a routine and a goal in mind where I can see progress and keep motivated. In teaching classes to people from other countries who just arrived in our community, I have noticed our students are very eager to learn.”
This year has been full of learning opportunities for Guerra herself related to Two Maids and a Mop.
“Closing was something that was not on the table for us,” she said. “We needed to adjust fairly quickly, and we did. Our advice to other small businesses at this time is to look for all the help they can get from organizations like PeopleFund.”
Cindy Urrutia, a loan officer with PeopleFund who works with the Guerras, believes their adaptability, tenacity and commitment to service are what make them successful.
“Creating a legacy and being involved in the community are the Guerras’ goals,” she said. “The business structure is well designed, with responsibilities divided according to their strengths. And the fact that they keep pushing forward, pivoting their business model to address COVID restrictions and make their clients feel safe has been key.”
Mayoli Guerra applies that same forward momentum to everything she does.
“We have to keep a positive attitude – especially at this time,” she said. “Life goes on, and we have to keep moving. COVID-19 has affected everyone in one way or another, but we have a choice to learn from this and persevere or get discouraged and give up.”
It’s the mindset that’s helping her enjoy life more, one day at a time.
About Regions Foundation
The Alabama-based Regions Foundation supports community investments that positively impact communities served by Regions Bank. The Foundation engages in a grantmaking program focused on priorities including economic and community development; education and workforce readiness; and financial wellness. The Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation funded primarily through contributions from Regions Bank.
About Regions Financial Corporation
Regions Financial Corporation (NYSE:RF), with $144 billion in assets, is a member of the S&P 500 Index and is one of the nation’s largest full-service providers of consumer and commercial banking, wealth management, and mortgage products and services. Regions serves customers across the South, Midwest and Texas, and through its subsidiary, Regions Bank, operates approximately 1,400 banking offices and 2,000 ATMs. Regions Bank is an Equal Housing Lender and Member FDIC. Additional information about Regions and its full line of products and services can be found at www.regions.com.