To celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will host a live webinar panel discussion on October 6 with Gabriel Esparza, associate administrator, SBA’s Office of International Trade; and small business owners Eduardo Ortiz of Coforma, LLC, in Washington, D.C. and Alejandro Ramirez of Universal Spartan, LLC, in Vine Grove, Kentucky.
The discussion will focus on financial wellness and the importance of equity and opportunity to help uplift and support Hispanic-owned small businesses across the country. The panel will also discuss SBA initiatives and resources that support startups seeking to launch and existing small businesses as they pivot and grow in a changing environment.
- Thursday, October 6, 2022
- 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. (EDT)
- Registration is required – Click here to register
- The event will be recorded
Eduardo Ortiz is CEO and a founding owner at Coforma, LLC, which designs innovative data systems and user-centered technology products for a diverse clientele. Since its formation in 2017, the company has grown from three to more than 60 employees. Ortiz reinvested during the pandemic to overcome challenges around staffing, finances, workplace dynamics and finding new contracts. An SBA 8(a) firm since December 2020, Conforma’s revenues have skyrocketed from $184,000 in 2018 to $8.4 million in 2021.
A military veteran, Ortiz is an active member of the Afghanistan and Iraq Veterans of America. He also co-founded BKUX, one of the fastest-growing design communities in New York, and a local leader for the Interaction Design Association (IxDA). He has over two decades of experience as a software engineer, UX designer, and information architect, including service as the design director at Ralph Lauren, where he oversaw the re-platforming effort for their ecommerce properties and led the team that made the platform accessible to all. He cherishes working as an advocate and helping to bring a sense of normalcy to those in need. He was named the SBA’s District of Columbia Small Business Person of the Year for 2022.
Alejandro Ramirez, the owner of Universal Spartan, LLC, launched his business in 2013, after retiring from the United States Army. Starting with just one employee, the online company initially generating a few thousand dollars in sales each year. Alejandro took full advantage of the resources provided by the federal government and the state of Kentucky. Through the assistance of the SBA, Alejandro changed his business model by becoming 8(a) certified, certified as a Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB), and receiving a State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) grant to assist in doing business globally. Universal Spartan has been awarded contracts with the federal government and has expanded its business internationally through exporting. Ramirez received assistance from the SBA’s Small Business Development Centers, Procurement Technical Assistance Center, U.S. Export Assistance Center, SBA’s Boots to Business, and the SBA’s Emerging Leaders program.
Ramirez now has more than 600 contracts with the federal government, including contractors in the U.S. and internationally in Colombia, Egypt, Peru, Spain and Israel. Universal Spartan has a General Services Administration (GSA) schedule and has signed numerous contractual teaming agreements with large and small companies and is a part-owner of a GSA 8a Stars III IT company called Universal Wisdom Solutions, LLC with two other veterans. Ramirez founded the Kentucky Veterans Business Alliance in 2017 to provide education and empowerment to all veterans with the resources and assistance to prepare them for their move beyond the military.
Today, Universal Spartan employs 12 independent contractors and has transformed into a defense contractor that provides tactical, IT, medical and electrical equipment and supplies, and the company’s revenue has exceeded $1.8 million. The company is a Veteran 100 company and is known as one of the fastest growing veteran companies in the nation. Universal Spartan, LLC is ranked on the 2021 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America. Ramirez was named the SBA’s Kentucky Small Business Person of the Year for 2022.
Gabriel “Gabe” Esparza is the associate administrator for the Office of International Trade at the U.S. Small Business Administration. He leads SBA’s efforts to expand U.S. exports by providing expertise and technical assistance to small business exporters, advancing favorable trade policy that ensures access to foreign markets, and by offering grants and other trade financing solutions. With a wealth of global understanding and perspective gained through professional and personal experience, Esparza is highly sought after for his leadership in both business and community affairs.
He is a seasoned executive with over 25 years of experience leading private sector businesses spanning both large corporations and nimble start-ups. Prior to joining the SBA, he was an investor, advisor and operator in a variety of entrepreneurial ventures. Earlier in his career, Esparza spent 13 years at American Express, including as VP of global business development. He is a frequent guest lecturer at various business schools and currently serves as a Trustee of the Central Piedmont Community College of North Carolina. From 2009 to 2018, he served as a public official in the City of Los Angeles having been appointed by the Mayor to the Board of Civil Service Commissioners. He holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA in International Relations from Stanford University.