Rudy Gonzalez has been giving back to the community of Pilsen, a traditionally Mexican-American neighbourhood in Chicago, for over 30 years. He grew up in Pilsen and is proud of his Mexican heritage. His strong ties to the Pilsen community and his long history of volunteerism both help him in his role as a relationship manager at CIBC Bank USA, helping startups and new businesses access working capital.
One of the organizations that Rudy volunteers for is the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), a non-profit that provides business training and education programs to young people from underserved communities like Pilsen. “I mentor and guide young entrepreneurs to start up and manage small businesses. The organization has a huge impact. It encourages youth to pursue higher education, while increasing their self-esteem and providing them with a real opportunity to own a revenue-producing small business,” says Rudy.
Through NFTE, Rudy was introduced to two young men who completed the program, graduated university and were pursuing their dream of starting their own company selling soccer shin-guard socks. Rudy mentored and helped them get a micro-term loan to support their business needs. The young men eventually became small business clients of CIBC Bank USA, and Rudy continues to support and encourage them. They say Rudy has served as an invaluable mentor, and they've been thrilled to have him in their corner.
Rudy feels his team at CIBC makes a point of valuing diversity. “We're encouraged to embrace our cultural heritage and I feel empowered to expand upon my passion for helping others.” For instance, Rudy had strong senior management support when he was interested in becoming a board member of the Mexican Art Museum, which features Mexican art and culture.
“I never in my life thought I would be on a board of trustees. This position helps me to give back and build relationships with the community.”
Rudy finds it most rewarding when he makes a positive impact in the lives of his clients. “Many of my clients come from underprivileged backgrounds, and it's very gratifying to see smiles on their faces when I’m able to help them start up a new business.”
His advice for young people interested in entrepreneurship: "Find a mentor or life coach, as this will increase the probability of getting your business on its feet."