In 1997, Brenda Marrero left her job as Human Resources Administrator for the Business Administration Unit of a multinational pharmaceutical corporation to start her own business, focused on providing her potential customers with superior external recruitment services.
“I knew there was opportunity to do something different, and provide the quality services I looked for in my role as a Human Resources professional,” Brenda says. “My former employer became my first client. One day I put together a service proposal, presented it to my boss, and here I am today.”
On her own, working from home or in small offices she borrowed from friends, Brenda built a staffing business that has since evolved to become a leader in its industry, not only in Puerto Rico, but in more than eight countries. Brenda Marrero & Associates (BMA) was born from its founder’s desire to place high-caliber professionals in the right job, while at the same time helping meet clients’ needs, and ensure motivational and behavioral fit.
Within the first six months of operations Brenda had achieved 50 placements, and was able to hire one employee, this time working for her. After the first year in business, Brenda had landed several clients, including locally-owned pharmaceutical companies, and law and accounting firms. In 2000, she became more than a head-hunter by integrating other executive staffing components, such as Employee Leasing and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) units to meet customer needs for experienced professionals during specific or indefinite periods, respectively.
“We became a more sophisticated company as we realized our customers’ needs to fill highly technical positions, such as those requiring a doctorate degree, for example,” Brenda says.
Branching out to other areas of recruitment allowed BMA in 2002 to establish headquarters at Centro Internacional de Mercadeo in Guaynabo, PR, where she now occupies space on two different floors. The woman entrepreneur also developed a Vendor Program --a hybrid so-to-speak of BPO and Employee Leasing—to hire temporary professional personnel by administering all contact, administration of benefits, and handling of risks.
“We allow companies to think about their growth while we develop ideas,” says the woman entrepreneur. “We also handle the strategic planning and evaluations of employees, and manage the payroll and fringe benefits.”
In 2011, Brenda saw an opportunity for BMA to expand to other markets. The Dominican Republic came first and Perú was next, followed by Costa Rica, Panamá, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago and Canada. Between 2012 and 2103, the company grew 40 percent. Such an expansion led Brenda to look into export financing, and she visited Banco Popular de Puerto Rico, where she obtained a line of credit with an Export Express guaranty from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
“This assistance has been like a lifeline,” Brenda says. "We have continued growing at a steady pace,” Brenda says. “Our main focus is to strengthen operations and continue growing, not only locally, but in Latin America as well. Banco Popular and SBA have been incredible in that sense; they take the time to understand the business owner and explain what your options are.”
The Export Express is one of various products under the SBA's 7(a) Loan Guaranty program, offering flexibility and ease of use for both borrowers and lenders. It is the simplest export loan product offered by the SBA and allows participating lenders to use their own forms, procedures and analysis. The SBA provides the lender with a response within 36 hours.
Borrowers may use proceeds from the Export Express to fund participation in a foreign trade show, finance standby letters of credit, translate product literature for use in foreign markets, finance specific export orders, as well as to finance expansions, equipment purchases, and inventory or real estate acquisitions, among other uses.
“Brenda Marrero is a solutions-focused entrepreneur,” said SBA District Director Yvette T. Collazo. “She has applied that invaluable trait, not only to satisfying her customers’ demands, but also as she manages a fast-growing company locally and across the globe. The SBA’s export programs are all about supporting those business needs.”
As she considers all that she has accomplished in little over a decade, Brenda doesn’t hesitate to provide sound business advice to younger and potential business owners.
“The global economy is ever-changing,” the woman entrepreneur says. “People have to read and they have to stay informed. They can develop their dream into a business model where to plot their ideas if they have discipline and structure.”
For more information on SBA’s programs and services for exporters, visit http://www.sba.gov/exporting.