Student and entrepreneur Margarita Gonzalez rarely follows the traditional path.
Already the chief financial officer of AccuBANKER, the company she and her husband founded in Miami in 1981, Gonzalez decided to pursue her Bachelor of Business Administration degree at Florida International University—at the same time her own children were heading off to college.
Now she is going one step further with her commitment to the university: creating the AccuBANKER Scholarship Endowment to support students in the College of Business Administration who are taking classes offered in partnership with the Eugenio Pino and Family Global Entrepreneurship Center.
“My goal is to help a young person with an entrepreneurial spirit get the right education right from the start,” said Gonzalez, who is slated to receive her own BBA this December.
The AccuBANKER Scholarship Endowment totals $71,000, including a $50,000 endowment to be paid out over the next seven years, plus $21,000 in direct annual scholarship funding.
“We are tremendously appreciative of Gonzalez’s generosity and philanthropic support,” said Annabelle Rojas (MBA ’98, BBA ’87), director of external relations and resource development. “She represents such an important part of the non-traditional student community, and her story is an energizing inspiration for all of us.”
A personal business philosophy gets put into practice.
When described as a “successful businesswoman,” Gonzalez quickly and modestly objects to that phrase.
“The truth is, it takes a community to build a business,” she said. “The success we have achieved at AccuBANKER belongs to many. My husband’s mother and my mother were there when we were first starting out, helping to take care of our children when we had to put in long hours at work. Credit for our success also goes to our employees, who share our vision, as well as to the bankers who always have had faith in our business plan, and, of course, to our loyal customers.”
Today, AccuBANKER is recognized as a leading provider of cost-effective cash-handling equipment designed to reduce human error, boost productivity, and avoid losses due to counterfeiting. The company serves customers in the United States and forty-two other countries around the world.
“I believe strongly in sharing resources with others who might benefit from them—and in giving back to the greater community,” Gonzalez said. “That’s what motivated my decision to create this endowment and scholarship fund for the university. I know that my husband and I could have benefited from the business school experience. Now I can help tomorrow’s entrepreneurs get the quality education needed to help start them on their way.”
Making room for the classroom in a hectic business and travel schedule.
Going back to school has required some juggling on Gonzalez’s part.
“Our business demands much of my time and attention,” she said. “I also travel quite frequently. And, I’m a goal-oriented person—and I am proud to say that getting this degree is a goal I have achieved.”
On the subject of travel, Gonzalez said she journeys frequently to China and has, in fact, been doing business there since 1989—long before the current awakening to China’s expanding role as a player in the global marketplace.
“I remember that, when I first started going to China, no one wanted to do business with a woman,” she said. “I was neither a man nor did I speak their language, so they were reluctant to negotiate with me. I told a prospect, ‘If you don’t want to deal with me, there will be no business. All purchase orders are approved by me.’ Of course, he immediately changed his attitude and, with his new perspective, we were able negotiate. Today, the commercial climate has changed. Many more business associates in China now speak English and are getting used to women in business like me—and that’s a good thing.”
And what has it been like for Gonzalez to be back in classroom?
“I wanted the classroom experience,” Gonzalez said. “I really enjoy being with the younger students. They are smart and full of new ideas.”
No doubt, the students also are benefiting from her global business experience and insight.
Generous gift helps take college one step closer to its goals.
“The AccuBANKER Scholarship Endowment supports two of the three initiatives under the Building for Business Campaign in important ways,” Rojas said. “It supports the Securing our Future initiative in that it establishes a scholarship endowment; it supports the Growth and Excellence initiative in that it will provide $3,000 annually for a scholarship during the seven years the endowment is being built. Growth and Excellence is all about raising annual funds for the many projects that the college undertakes.”
The first AccuBANKER Scholarship is scheduled to be awarded for the 2007-2008 academic year.
To learn more about the AccuBANKER Scholarship, other scholarships in the college, and ways to give to the Building for Business Campaign, visit: http://business.fiu.edu/Spotlights/support_our_school.cfm