Meet Maria Cruz from Long Island. Her passion and area of expertise is flowers. With the cash she saved while working at her sister’s shop, she succeeded in opening her own flower shop in 2009. Her business grew and she was able to open up a second shop in 2015. Things were going well until some equipment began to fail during an uncharacteristically slow summer season. She needed more money, however, banks turned her down flat.
(Pictured, Maria at her shop “Heavenly Flowers“)
“I couldn’t understand why no one would loan to me. I just kept running into a dead end,” says Cruz. Both shops were profitable and her credit was good, but the only loan options available to her came through the large pool of largely unregulated, high-cost lenders that are accessed online. With her business in distress, she took the loans.
Maria now had a $11,000 obligation that she paid monthly to cover debts to three different online lenders. After several months of paying $550 per day to the online lenders, someone pointed Cruz to the community lender Excelsior Growth Fund.
Excelsior Growth Fund is one of the hundreds of CDFIs (Community Development Financial Institutions) that are certified by the Treasury Department and on a mission to serve talented and driven entrepreneurs like Maria. CDFIs like Excelsior meet the needs of business owners who seek the speed of an online lending process and provide an option to businesses that cannot currently qualify with their traditional banks.
“My first thought about the loan process was, ‘What’s the catch?’ But there isn’t one,” Cruz says. “You call them, they call you right back. You email them, they email you right back. They’re always there, no matter what you need. I’m their biggest fan.”
Maria’s story is one out of hundreds of Americans who are struggling to secure capital from traditional banks. CNote and CDFIs are dedicated to making dreams come true. Together we create the world we wish to see – one with opportunity and a path to success for everyone regardless of their ethnicity, background or financial history.