Miriam Torres Baltys gets great satisfaction from helping people achieve their dreams of business ownership and success.
As a senior small business loan officer with CDC Small Business Finance, she works to close the racial wealth gap by providing aspiring and existing business owners from underserved communities SBA Community Advantage loans, a federal program for advancing racial and financial equity.
On May 9, Torres Baltys was honored by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) San Diego District Office in its 2023 National Small Business Week Awards. She received the “Financial Services Champion of the Year” award, which recognizes individuals who support small businesses through advocacy efforts to increase usefulness and availability of accounting or financial services.
“This job is truly about helping people, and it feels great to be recognized for the impact I am having on small business owners,” Torres Baltys said. “Every time I talk to a client, I try to think of them as if they were family – how would I want them to be treated, and how can I help them reach their goal? And if I can’t help them right now, how can I help them be knowledgeable and set a plan for the future so that they can still achieve their goals and dreams?”
In the 2022 fiscal year, Torres Baltys helped fund 51 small businesses with a total of more than $7.2 million in Community Advantage loans, which serve startup businesses owners who cannot get traditional lending with financing in the range to $20,000 to $350,000.
One client Torres Baltys pointed to as an example of how Community Advantage loans help was a new father who worked at Target but wanted to create a legacy for his family by opening a martial arts studio in Poway. After a year and a half of guidance on how to meet the loan requirements, Torres Baltys was able to secure him a state guaranteed program loan for $50,000.
“It just made all the difference to him and allowed him to hire some employees, get some tenant improvements going and buy some inventory he needed,” she said.
“The most important aspect of Miriam’s success is how much she cares about her clients,” said Susan Lamping, vice president of sales at CDC Small Business Finance. “Miriam goes out of her way to apply creativity to the lending process to make deals work.”
Torres Baltys’ passion for making deals work for her clients comes from her own experience growing up in a disadvantaged community. She was born in Tecate, Mexico and grew up in a “low-income area in Escondido” where “gangs were rampant,” she said.
“I very much relate to the people we serve,” she said. “I know what it’s like to start at the bottom, to work hard and attain what you set your eyes on. I want them to know that it’s possible.”
Despite the current uncertain economic climate, getting an SBA loan is still possible, Torres Baltys said, adding that CDC Small Business Finance is “busier than ever,” except for the early months of the COVID pandemic when loan volumes went upwards of 400%.
“I’ve never seen anything like that, anything that exaggerated,” she said.
Torres Baltys credits the current high volume of loans to SBA making the Community Advantage loan program a permanent program.
“I think SBA sees the need that we have for these types of loans,” she said. “Our loans are not going anywhere. Whenever the economy gets a little rough, we have a growth in applications because that means that traditional lenders are tightening up.”
CDC Small Business Finance
CEO: Ellis Carr
Headquarters: San Diego
Business: Nonprofit lender
Revenue: $33,162,134 (FY2022)
Notable: CDC Small Business Finance is the nation’s top SBA lender.