by John M. Covaleski

Pleasanton, Calif. — Accpac International has gone Spanish in its latest attempt to take low-end accounting software market share from Intuit’s QuickBooks, Best Software’s Peach­­tree line and MYOB.

Accpac’s latest release of its Simply Accounting low-end accounting software includes bi-lingual capabilities that enable users to do their accounting in Spanish or English. All screens, menus, reports, invoices and training documentation can be presented in either language.

Accpac likes the Latino market potential. In announcing the new product, it cited Census Bureau data showing that the nation has about 2.1 million businesses owned by Spanish-speakers, and that the fast-growing Latino-American population is projected to account for 15 percent of the total U.S. population by 2010.

Separately, the Ewing Mar­ion Kauffman Foundation, which tracks entrepreneurship, found that Latinos are 20 percent more likely to start a business than white Americans are. It also found that African-Americans are 50 percent more likely than whites to start a business.

Accpac’s Latino marketing strategy includes a centralized effort at its home office, here, that is reaching out to Spanish-speaking business owners and business associations in key markets across the country, as well as accounting professionals with Spanish-speaking business clients. Approximately 700 accounting professionals in the United States are certified to provide consulting services on Simply Accounting.

“The Spanish-speaking business market possibilities are huge because these companies are growing and no one else is delivering this capability,” said Gretel Serrano-Tortoli, Accpac’s manager of U.S. and Hispanic market development and coordinator of the Simply Accounting consultants channel in the United States. She estimates that 30 percent of those certified consultants have bi-lingual business clients.

Certified consultants help their clients set up and get maximum use from Simply Accounting and work with the product to enhance their accounting services to the client.

Accpac’s new Simply Accounting strategy is by far the software industry’s most aggressive pursuit of the U.S. Latino market. None of the low-end competitors offer Spanish versions, though MYOB offers technical support in Spanish.

A QuickBooks spokesman said that Intuit is “always looking at this” but it doesn’t see strong demand for a Spanish language version because most Hispanic business owners are fluent in English.

Cynthia Mackewicz, general manager of MYOB U.S., said, “Our Hispanic customers tell us that they don’t necessarily need a product in Spanish, but they do want the option of speaking in Spanish for customer serrvice.” MYOB markets to the Hispanic community through the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Serrano-Tortoli countered that even though Hispanic business owners may also be fluent in English, their employees may speak only Spanish, and many of their customers and suppliers may only speak Spanish or may be based in Spanish-speaking countries. The new Simply Accounting’s Spanish capabilities include printing invoices in that language, and support of multiple currencies.

She also said that the new product’s bilingual reporting capabilities could be particularly valuable in helping Latino-owned businesses secure bank financing. “A lot of these people have good businesses, but if they cannot prove it to banks with the proper reports, they cannot get the loan,” Serrano-Tortoli said.

Her initial geographic markets for the Spanish product include New York; Chicago; parts of Texas, Florida and California; and Puerto Rico, which would be a new market for Accpac. Serrano-Tortoli said that she is also working with some 40 urban small business development centers run under the auspices of the U.S. Small Business Administration, and that she hopes to develop a strategic alliance with the Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting.

The newest version of Simply Accounting features more than just the bilingual capabilities. Other added features in the newest version include the ability to handle pre-paid orders; the ability to take payments from several credit cards; support for multiple price lists; direct deposit payroll service; credit check capability; and enhanced reporting.

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