In this day and age, technology is an essential tool for organizations to operate successfully and efficiently. Over the past decade, Latino-owned businesses have grown by 34%, and technology has played a critical role in how they have scaled that growth. Here we explore la fuerza Latina behind four Latino-led entities that have leveraged technology to drive their business forward and make an impact in their communities: First Onsite, a leading restoration and property reconstruction company growing in productivity; Algramo, a Chilean startup helping consumers save money and the planet via sustainable smart packaging; ClearSale, a Brazilian consumer fraud protection company; and Centro Legal de la Raza, a legal services agency protecting and advancing the rights of low-income, immigrant, Latino, and Black communities. No matter the industry, these are prime examples of how technology enables innovation at every level, improves a company’s capacity and capabilities, drives productivity and efficiency, and ultimately makes a positive impact in the community.
First Onsite: Responding to the community efficiently and rapidly
A Miami native with Cuban roots, Rene Vargas is a proud Latino who has steered First Onsite’s Southeast Florida division through the challenging waters of 2020. The cleanup and restoration firm believes one can never be too comfortable, as that is precisely when the unexpected strikes – and last year was a true testament of that. As a company serving businesses, homeowners and communities during times of emergency, the pandemic highlighted their need to enhance the breadth of their customer support and responsiveness, while also sparking an eagerness to identify and implement solutions to help expand the business and its reach.
As First Onsite employees turned to a remote work model, client requests continued, and business was uninterrupted thanks to technology. Vargas states, “the pandemic brought its own challenges to our company, but our staff remained very dedicated, steady and strong.” Through the use of Microsoft Teams, employees were able to connect with one another and continue servicing the community. “Technology has enhanced our capabilities and our responsiveness without disrupting the typical rhythm of our day-to-day lives, pre-pandemic.” Productivity has also increased as meetings that were once held in person can now happen with a click of a button, and people are more accessible than before. “I don’t remember the old days of working, it’s interesting how easily we have been able to adapt to remote work because of the technology,” added Vargas.
The implementation of technology has also been valuable in streamlining workflows and facilitating project management. Documents that once were transacted in person are now shared on Microsoft Teams, and the platform has enabled greater overall communication and cross-collaboration. These improvements yield a greater output from staff and stronger outcomes for clients, as well as fostering a more fluid and robust work environment. “We use Microsoft Teams to collaborate not only with leadership and project management teams, but with everyone across our organization,” expressed Vargas. From the chat function to video conferences to Scheduling Assistant that facilitates meeting coordination, Microsoft Teams is being utilized to maximize productivity and better serve the community all around.
To learn more about First Onsite, click here.
Algramo: Servicing communities by facilitating cost-saving, sustainable solutions
Motivated to provide consumers with the lowest prices possible as well as sustainable and smart packaging, Chilean startup Algramo, which means “by the gram” in Spanish, seeks to revolutionize the way we consume every day. In partnership with major brands and small business owners, Algramo offers a cost-effective, smart dispensing system, which provides consumers with a more efficient way to refill and restock a range of household cleaning products and other non-perishable items. Users can order what they need and pay via an app, refilling their containers either from an electric tricycle at their door or at an in-store contactless vending machine. At the core of Algramo is its ethos about giving back to the community, which they achieve by providing an invaluable solution to make people’s lives’ easier, help reduce waste, and save money in the process – people pay for the product, not the packaging.
With operations in Santiago, New York and Jakarta, Algramo’s multi-country footprint and expansion model required a platform that would help the various elements of their business model. From a need to increase their data processing capabilities and a reliable tool for transaction management and overall performance, the challenges they faced were complex. They turned to Microsoft technology to migrate its entire digital infrastructure to Microsoft Azure, and now its website, app, platforms, customer interaction processes and inventory control are all based on the cloud.
“We entrust all our digital infrastructure, organization of dispensers and platforms with Microsoft technology, which allows us to reach our customers more effectively and efficiently,” said José Manuel Moller, CEO of Algramo. Technology is at the core of Algramo’s business, improving its operations and how it responds to clients’ needs, allowing it to drive its business forward and expand to new markets.
To learn more about Algram, click here.
ClearSale: Protecting the consumer community during times of heightened risk
In this technological era, security is paramount, and consumers want to know their information is protected and safe. Originally from Brazil, ClearSale is a fraud protection organization with headquarters in Miami, Florida. Rafael Lourenco, Executive Vice President and Partner of ClearSale, is determined to ensure business continuity and safety assurance to its customers, and with 83 percent of consumers expressing that they would be more likely to shop online if reassured they had fraud protection, this topic has never been timelier. “Security and transparency have never been more vital to providing good customer experiences online, and ClearSale is dedicated to helping businesses offer payment options and transactions that are safe, seamless, and prioritize the customer’s satisfaction,” express Lourenco.
Nowadays it’s possible to purchase just about anything on the internet – groceries, clothing, gadgets, household goods. With more and more people spending time online, there is a heightened risk and potential for exposure to credit card and identity fraud. A ClearSale survey conducted by Sapio Research in March of 2020, shows that two thirds of online shoppers say their online spending had increased within the last 6 months. In response to the need, ClearSale developed a new data infrastructure leveraging Microsoft Azure. With the migration and use of AI, the company managed to reduce the time it takes to run a credit score analysis by 96%. Because the new infrastructure is based on the cloud, the categorization of information became easier and also enabled greater synergy and integration in the use of data from different databases. “Microsoft Azure has helped drive our proprietary technology to new heights and ensure that we can implement the fastest, most efficient methods to constantly exceed our clients’ expectations,” asserted Lourenco. In addition, ClearSale is also improving the overall online retail experience. With the tight integration of Power BI with Azure Synapse, the Business Intelligence team is able to manage a centralized dashboard for monitoring, reporting and querying.
ClearSale has maintained its footing as a leader in protecting online customers because the company has made innovative solutions a pillar of their business model. The implementation of new technology and the commitment to achieve greater results for its clients has allowed them to not only prevent identify fraud but also stay ahead of the curve in order to take preventative measures for added protection and security. Rather than turning to technology as a short-term solution, ClearSale looks to technology as a long-term partner to address the needs of the consumer community today while anticipating the needs of tomorrow.
To learn more about ClearSale, click here.
Centro Legal de la Raza: Establishing a more efficient data-processing mechanism to provide improved legal services
The past 50 years, Centro Legal de la Raza has helped vulnerable families, youth, refugees, and immigrants with legal services. Based in Oakland, California, the organization works tirelessly to help those detained in immigration detention centers, providing them with legal counsel and other critical resources. Historically, the case intake model in place has been solely manual, which limits the capacity to process cases and puts an additional strain on staff. As a result, they turned to Microsoft through the AI for Humanitarian Action program to build a case management platform to facilitate the process and increase efficiencies.
With the implementation of a customized Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology and case management platform, designed to scan paper intake forms and sort standardized fields of data into databases remotely for legal service providers, the organization was able to formally activate a pilot program at the Golden State Annex, an immigration detention center.
In addition to processing client intake forms more efficiently, by digitizing 90% more of the information gathered in the process, Centro Legal has been able to analyze cases in greater detail and identify trends not previously observable. The results of the pilot program demonstrate the potential of the technology and the additional benefits that it can garner, from an operational standpoint but most importantly, from a humanitarian perspective. As noted by Mario Martinez, Post-Release Accompaniment Program (PRAP) Coordinator for Centro Legal, “one of the greatest benefits of the technology is that it allows us to work more collaboratively with our internal and external partners to have an even greater impact on the community.” The goal is to be able to roll out this effort to other facilities in California and beyond, and ultimately help the 14,000 that remain detained and in need of legal assistance.
Technology is an indispensable tool for companies seeking ways to navigate change and accelerate their growth. Latino-led companies have demonstrated how technology solutions have empowered them to achieve success and help their communities in ways that were once inconceivable and now made possible. The first-hand accounts and success stories of First Onsite, Algramo, ClearSale and Centro Legal de la Raza are great examples of companies that have leveraged technology to generate impact for the communities they serve, resulting in a greater impact to their customers, increasing the capabilities of their service, and demonstrating the potential of innovation.
To learn more about Centro Legal de la Raza, click here.
Tags: Algramo, Centro Legal de la Raza, ClearSale, First Onsite, Microsoft Latino