The following content is created by JPMorgan Chase & Co. It does not reflect the work or opinions of NBC South Florida's editorial staff. To learn more about JPMorgan Chase, visit jpmorganchase.com.
United States entrepreneurs and small businesses are thriving with help from Accion East, an affiliate of a national microfinance organization that offers loans, financial education and business advisory services to business owners that need flexible arrangements. Accion East helps bridge the gap for business owners who may not be ready for a traditional banking relationship.
In Miami, with a high population of minority entrepreneurs, organizations like Accion are indispensable. 86 percent of the clients Accion East serves are Hispanic or Latino, 27 percent are African-American and 40 percent are female, and Accion East is equipped to help them in Spanish.
“Our clients face a number of challenges, from credit to educational barriers,” explains Fabiana Estrada, manager of lending for South Florida Accion East. “Our mission in Miami is to provide access to capital and financial education to small business owners who don’t have a lot of other alternatives.” The median investment is $7,000 per business, with lending available from $500 to $50,000.
In addition to lending money to small business owners, Accion helps them build their credit, develop financial statements and manage cash flow. “We grow business revenues and create and sustain employment in communities,” adds Estrada. “We also help our clients grow their take home pay, stabilize their households and keep their businesses open.”
Accion works closely with Chase bankers, who often refer clients that don’t yet qualify for traditional financing. “About one-third of our loans are a result of Chase referrals,” says Estrada. "These bankers stay involved after the referral, which often leads to a relationship down the line once the business gets off the ground."
Kalos Music & Art School is one such business. Referred to Accion by Chase, Kalos received an Accion microloan to build their school with the right technology and equipment to teach musical instruments and voice lessons. With solid credit and business experience in hand, after several months, Accion referred Kalos Music & Art School back to Chase, at which point the small business qualified for a loan to expand their school and accommodate more students, including new rooms for visual arts. Today, Kalos Music & Art School employs nearly 20 people, provides music, art, dance and theatre education to students as young as 4 years old, and serves as an example of how this financing partnership can work.
Recently, the JPMorgan Chase Foundation provided a $75,000 grant to help Accion East expand its reach and support more business owners through their Florida Microlending and Financial Education Program. According to Victoria Richardson, Senior Development Officer, Accion East, the grant supported key investments in staff and capacity, which allowed them to serve over 2,000 small business owners who created and sustained 1,300 jobs in Florida last year alone. Richardson went on to highlight that support from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation has helped Accion East grow lending in Florida over 200% in the last three years, update their online lending portal and become a more sustainable organization.
In addition, Chase banker Peter Salas serves on the Accion board—a role he has been committed to since 2012.
To learn more about Accion East, visit www.accioneast.org.