To conclude Women’s History Month we would like to feature the story of Helen Saavadra, an amazing entrepreneur who exemplifies the power of perseverance.
Helen Saavedra moved to New York from Peru over 20 years ago. Like many immigrants, she came to the United States with a dream. Helen’s dream was to study and earn her certification in Ultrasound Technology. However, she immediately faced challenges, many of them related to language. Despite those challenges, Helen finished her certification and began working as an Ultrasound Technology Specialist.
In 2012, after years of working for other companies, Helen decided it was time to start her own business—a business unlike her competitors. Unique Ultrasounds Imaging Corp. is a mobile ultrasound company that travels to doctors and patients in both clinics and their homes throughout the city. Helen’s primary concern is the patient. She offers a low-cost alternative to MRI’s and more invasive medical exams, saving her patients and doctors money, and contributing to preventative care in communities that have struggled to put health first. Moreover, for those clients who are unable to pay, she offers her service free of charge. “I love my job because I am contributing to keeping people healthy,” Helen explains.
Soon after launching her business, Helen found herself with limited financial resources and realized she would have to look into getting a bank loan. But similar to many other small business owners and immigrants, she encountered problems with her credit history and was unable to acquire support from the bank. In June 2012, her bank referred her to Accion East and Online, who recognized her strong determination and provided her with a loan for $10,000. With these funds, Helen was able to purchase new supplies, as well as launch an advertising campaign that directly targeted the Hispanic medical market.
When asked about her loan, Helen explains, “The loan from Accion came at the right time in the right moment. It only took a couple of days for them to process everything. They gave me a loan and I couldn’t believe it.”
Recently, Unique Ultrasounds Imaging Corp. was nominated along with 17 other clients to pioneer Accion East and Online’s Client Ambassador Program. Through this program, Accion will provide Ambassadors with increased visibility, selling opportunities, and intensive business consulting. In exchange, these clients will represent Accion in the media and community events.
Today, Helen’s business continues to grow; she plans to move into a permanent office and hire additional staff. She continues to give back to her clients, offering free services to those who cannot afford it. She also gives back to her own town in Peru by funding community events and projects.
Helen is a wonderful, hardworking individual who believes in community companionship and was recently featured in a national video series profiling a number of Accion clients around the country. In that series, Helen comments, “I would like to thank Accion for the opportunity and believing in me.”