It’s a Sweet Ride to the Top
10 Oct, 2011
The mission of Fortius is to provide California’s small businesses with a quicker response to their capital needs, whether they require early-stage capital, growth equity, or mezzanine financing or capital for real estate development opportunities. Fortius’ stated goal is to partner with these businesses to achieve superior long-term growth and financial stability by drawing on company executives’ vast public and private experience and resources.
As a private equity and venture fund, Fortius has the advantage of being able to adapt quickly to the needs of entrepreneurs and portfolio companies, and it’s committed to driving the success of all small businesses, with special interest in those owned by Hispanics and women.
Promerica Bank, of which Contreras-Sweet is founder and chairwoman of the board, states that its mission is to “provide customized leading edge financial products and services, tailored specifically for small to medium sized business, with a focus on the Hispanic business community.”
The bank was formed to serve the Los Angeles business community, with the goal of becoming the leading financial services provider to Latino entrepreneurs. As the first Latino-formed business bank to debut in downtown Los Angeles in the past 30 years, Promerica Bank states that it is dedicated to building family wealth by empowering entrepreneurs with the requisite financial services and capital infusion for the success of their small to mid-size businesses.
The bank’s Web site announces on its home page that “to better serve Latino clients, Promerica Bank provides bicultural service, not just bilingual service, financial education and empowerment for both clients and future clients, as well as a conservative, yet flexible credit culture. Promerica Bank is not another formulaic institution, but is instead a family-legacy driven organization, building relationships on service and trust.“
The driving force behind these financial services enterprises, Maria Contreras-Sweet, has a background that uniquely qualifies her to help found them. In brief, prior to founding Fortius Holdings, Contreras-Sweet was the first Latina to serve on a governor’s cabinet as the secretary of Business, Transportation, and Housing for the state of California, where she managed 42,000 employees and was responsible for a $14 billion budget. Under her umbrella of responsibility were 14 departments, including the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), the Highway Patrol (CHP) and the banking and real estate departments, to name a few. Part of Contreras-Sweet’s legacy is the creation of the new Department of Managed Health Care, which regulates HMOs and the passage of the largest-ever California housing bond, Proposition 46.