Providence City Council President Sabina Matos (Ward 15) today, in partnership with the Providence Revolving Fund, announced the creation of the Providence Commercial Corridor Micro-Business Loan fund. The commercial corridors in the pilot phase of this program are Broad Street, Cranston Street, Elmwood Avenue, Broadway (West of I-95), and Westminster Street (West of I-95) in the City of Providence.
The Providence Commercial Corridor Micro-Business Loan Fund was created to provide financing to micro-businesses to help address safety measures needed for reopening due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program, funded in collaboration with the City Council, will be managed and administered by the Providence Revolving Fund, who capitalized the micro-loan fund pilot program to provide small loans to micro-businesses with an initial $100,000.00, and the City Council has matched this amount.
Council President Sabina Matos stated, “The City is facing extraordinary circumstances. Our small business community has been especially susceptible to the economic harm this pandemic has caused. Many micro-businesses, especially Minority-Owned Businesses, could not obtain or did not qualify for the PPP loan program or the SBA Emergency Loan Fund due to federal restrictions. These micro-loans will help these businesses reopen and give them access to much-needed capital to address their unique business needs. On behalf of my colleagues Deputy Majority Leader Mary Kay Harris (Ward 11), Councilwoman Carmen Castillo (Ward 9), Councilor Rachel Miller (Ward 13), Councilman James Taylor (Ward 8), and Councilman Pedro Espinal (Ward 10), we extend our gratitude to the Providence Revolving Fund, the Center for Women in Enterprise, Customer’s Bank, and the Center for Southeast Asians for their support of this important pilot program.”
Eligible businesses include service, retail, and manufacturing companies that employ fewer than ten full-time employees, earn less than $250,000.00 annually, and are located on or near the pilot commercial corridors. Additionally, 30-percent of the Fund will be set aside for Women/Minority-owned businesses.
Businesses in these corridors can apply for loans ranging from $500-$5,000.00. Loans are available for any physical alterations needed to be compliant with the Rhode Island Department of Health and Commerce RI guidelines for reopening. Additionally, up to 25% of loan funds can be used for PPE for staff. Credit history will not affect the ability to obtain a loan, and collateral will not be required.
“Providence Revolving Fund and the Providence City Council have capitalized a revolving loan fund to provide small loans to micro-businesses located on or near commercial corridors in Providence,” stated Carrie Zaslow, Executive Director of the Providence Revolving Fund. “We believe that this program is essential for the preservation of the small businesses that make up our communities. The Providence Revolving Fund is committed to providing equitable access to financing and services to promote economic opportunity. We are pleased to be able to roll out this program at a time when so many small businesses are struggling.”
The loan term is for 2-years, and there will be two repayment options. The first is a 0% interest rate if the borrower begins repayment as soon as the loan is issued, and the second comes with a 6-month grace period with a 2% interest rate. In addition to these terms, the Center for Women & Enterprise (CWE) will provide required technical assistance in small business management to borrowers.
Director Veronica Martinez from the CWE stated, “The Center for Women and Enterprise is honored to collaborate with The Providence Revolving Fund. This new loan initiative will provide much-needed relief to our small business community. We look forward to providing our services to program applicants. We are committed to providing all necessary supports to uphold client success.”
Since it opened in 2000, the Center for Women & Enterprise-Rhode Island office (located in Providence, RI) has helped thousands of women and men gain the tools they need to thrive in business and entrepreneurship. The mission of CWE is to provide opportunities for women entrepreneurs and women in industry to increase professional success, personal growth, and financial independence. They achieve this mission by providing education, training, technical assistance, and access to markets to entrepreneurs at every stage of business development. Recipients of The Commercial Corridor Micro-Business Loan Fund will be required to participate in financial coaching and training.
Customer’s Bank has provided the Micro-Loan Fund with a donation of $5,000.00, and Steve Issa, EVP-Chief Lending Officer & President New England, Customer’s Bank shared, “Customer’s Bank is committed to helping in the communities we serve. Being able to support our micro-business community is especially important during these trying times. As businesses around the State begin to reopen, ensuring that our smaller size businesses have access to capital to purchase the PPE and other items they need to work safely is paramount. We are very happy to make this donation to the Providence Revolving Fund so that they may continue the wonderful work they do for the city of Providence.”
In addition to the technical support being provided by the Center for Women & Enterprise, the Center for Southeast Asians has graciously offered to help potential Khmer speaking business owners with the loan application and other translations services.
“During this very challenging time in our economy, our state of the nation and the COVID-19 pandemic, our small business which are the backbone of our economy faces grave danger of closing its door. Through the Providence City Council President Sabina Matos and the Providence Revolving Fund’s micro-loan pilot program, this effort will save our small businesses from current suffocation and breathe air into the life of these needed entities. I am proud to be part of this effort,” stated Channavy Chhay, Executive Director at the Center for Southeast Asians.
The Providence Revolving Fund Project Management team is made up of general contractors with a specialty in historic preservation. All borrowers will have the opportunity to request a consultation with the team regarding their projects, budgets, reviewing contractor bids, and other needs they may have. Applications to the Micro-Loan Fund will go before a review committee set up by the Providence Revolving Fund which will be comprised of community members and industry professionals, including Carmen Díaz-Jusino, Vice President and Community Development Officer at BankNewport.
Ms. Díaz-Jusino stated, “As Community Development Officer for BankNewport, volunteering in the community is essential to the bank’s mission, and being able to share my expertise is an important way for me to give back to our community. The smaller businesses that this loan fund will service don’t always have easy access to capital, so this program will give them an opportunity to reopen and grow their business at a time when it’s needed most.”
It’s the goal of the Providence Revolving Fund and the City Council that other financial and philanthropic institutions will help recapitalize the Fund so the program can be expanded to other corridors throughout the City of Providence. Materials will be available in English, Spanish, and Khmer (please not the loan application will only be available in English and Spanish) on the City Council Website and on the Providence Revolving Fund Website. For businesses needing help with Khmer, they can contact the Center for Southeast Asians to facilitate the application process.
FAQ’s and Applications found here: Micro-Loan Fund